Lady Francine Walsingham cannot believe this warrior is to be her escort into Scotland. It is whispered that Lachlan MacRath has magical powers…how else do you explain his success as a pirate? But trust him she must, for a treacherous plot is about to reveal all her secrets…and Francine has no choice but to act as his lover to keep her enemies at bay.
When Lachlan first sees Francine, the blonde beauty stirs his blood like no woman ever before. As luck would have it, they must now play the besotted couple so he can protect her…and Lachlan is determined to use all his seductive prowess to properly woo her into his bed.
Lachlin MacRath and his brothers, Rory and Keir, are known in 15th century England as the Hellhounds of Scotland and his sense of presence, the aura of authority he exudes, puts him clearly head and shoulders above the peers of England that surround the throne of King Henry the VII. Lady Francine is in her early 20’s, is already widowed and a single mother, and is greatly cherished by the widowed king. Some even claim he is in love with her. But he cannot marry her nor would she accept any kind of illicit arrangement with him. She knows that there are pressures upon him to approve of a marriage to a man she truly hates and fears. She isn’t really upset at being sent to Scotland in the retinue that is to accompany Princess Margaret to her wedding to Scotland’s King James. It is having to be in the company of this Scottish warrior and his clansmen that is unsettling. Yet she is to later realize that it is this stalwart clan laird who saves her life and that of her daughter many times over.
This is a fine historical novel that is set in one of England’s most colorful and politically turbulent times. Set in the time just after the War of the Roses and highlighting the marriage of Princess Margaret, it is a story filled with romance and court conniving,with political machinations and terrible plotting to kidnap and kill. This same Princess Margaret was Henry VIII’s sister, aunt to Queen Elizabeth I, and mother to Mary, Queen of Scots. Her grandson becomes James I of England, the first king to truly unite England and Scotland under one ruler. In spite of all that, at the core of this story is Lady Francine’s misinformed belief in sorcerers, in the rumors about Laird Lachlin as a man who is causing her to attracted to him by means of a love spell, and whose superstition almost robs her of the person who she really comes to love. Lachlin is the kind of man all of us would like to meet: one whose confidence in himself, whose comfort quotient about being who he is allows him to be kind and gentle with those who need it and tough and lethal with those who threaten people he values. Within him beats the heart of a good man, but make no mistake–he is a man of his times and he has as many flaws as the next person.
I don’t think I have read any of this author’s work before but I can guarantee that I will be looking for future books. It is a novel that is well-researched and put together with skill and careful consideration for balancing historical fact with literary license. And because it is so well written the reader can keep the story straight, appreciate the tensions of family and politics as well as the strand of sexual tension that runs throughout the story. It’s a novel that begs to be read and appreciated and I enjoyed it a lot.
I give it a rating of 4 out of 5.
You can read more from Judith at Dr J’s Book Place.