It has been prophesied that four men, raised as brothers, will bring Scotland back to glory. The third one will first endure a lesson in humility—and passion.
Charlotte is as brave as any Highland warrior, but she can’t rescue her father alone. Her sweet face could convince any man to come to her aid, but fate has a funny way of complicating things. For when she is lucky enough to land at the feet of the mighty Bryce MacAlpin, Charlotte is in disguise . . . as Charles.
Bryce can afford no distractions on his vital quest to restore Scotland’s true king to the throne. It is madness to instead give his help to this desperate urchin— especially after Charlotte’s secret comes to light! Now, caught between a growing passion and his dedication to the king, will Bryce turn away from love in order to fulfill his quest? Or will he discover that promising your heart is the bravest mission of all?
Contemporary individuals and populations understand the word “terror” as being rooted in destructive technology and ideologies, but when reading a historical such as this book, one becomes aware that the concept of terror really does go way back. So it was in the lives of these two main characters–Charlotte and Bryce, both lives set in motion by a “mission” that drove their efforts and consumed their lives. For Charlotte, the capture of her father by an unscrupulous and relentless ruler, one whose ambition blinded him to the needs of his people, forced her to take on the persona of a young lad, dressing as a teenage boy, chopping away the lengths of her beautiful hair, dirtying her pretty face–all in the hope of finding the trail that would lead to her father and enable her to reclaim him and his freedom. For Bryce, this young starving lad was, at least at first, a burdensome addition to his trek toward finding information and aide concerning a spy whose allegiance to the true kind of Scotland had landed him in prison, the same hellish prison that was the destination of Charlotte’s father. Now their “mission” was taking them both in the same direction, and as they endured the hardships of travel, inclement weather, the king’s soldiers bent on detaining them, and the ill will of villagers who feared all strangers, Bryce and Charlotte–or Charles, as Bryce initially knew her–found that their acquaintanceship grew into friendship, and when Bryce finally realized that his pal Charles was really Charlotte, attraction bloomed between them.
The real energy in this novel, though, is the deeply held belief within Charlotte herself, that she was capable of finding her own way and figuring out strategies that would enable her to free her father. While she grew to depend on Bryce’s superior physical strength, her great intelligence, wisdom learned at the knee of her father, abilities to use a bow and arrow as a superior marksman, and fighting skills that only a warrior woman would know made her a one-of-a-kind companion. Even when Bryce attempted to treat her as the “little woman” and wanted to confine her within his own castle, Charlotte never wavered in her determination to be involved mentally and physically in her father’s rescue.
Some readers have grown weary of Charlotte’s singular focus, while others have been offended with Bryce’s insistence in keeping Charlotte “safe” with the other women. Suffice it to say that Charlotte was most definitely a rare woman indeed and one that her man found could not be contained by social tradition about females of that day. It was also true that Bryce expressed the social norms in his attitude toward keeping women protected and safely out of harm’s way. Yet both these characters stand out as people of caring and sensitivity, living in the moment and recognizing the transient nature of life. This was most evident in their refusal to make future promises to one another.
Ms Fletcher has given her readers a fine historical that is beautifully written, well researched, with characters and scenarios that “fit” the times and work well throughout the story. There is a sound plot, a story line that works and which keeps moving forward relentlessly and never bogs down. The political tension works well with the sexual and relational tension throughout the story with the reader kept on the edge of the seat in the hope that not only will the father be found and rescued but that these lovers may indeed find their “happily ever after.”
Having not read the two previous novels in this series, I still did not feel that I missed out on the action that began in book one. I am most definitely looking forward to the next book in the series as this one left me wanting to experience the conclusion of the search for the true kind of Scotland. Just one really terrific read!!
I give it a rating of 4.25 out of 5
You can read more from Judith at Dr J’s Book Place.