Four young Highlanders – Connor, Ian, Alex and Duncan – hurry home from France after hearing news of the disastrous Battle of Flodden against Henry VIII’s forces. With his father among the dead, Connor must take his place as chieftain. Before he can lead his clan through the perilous times ahead, however, he must first dislodge the usurper who has taken his family’s castle and claimed leadership of the clan.
Connor’s cousins and best friend, Ian, Alex and Duncan, will stand shoulder to shoulder with him in every fight. They are willing to give their lives for their clan and their new chieftain. But taking wives to serve the clan’s interests is a different matter altogether…
This is a new series about four related young men in medieval Scotland. While they are also best friends, they will each have their own particular story to relate in the subsequent books. The prologue of this first book sets the basis for the series and begins the reader’s involvement with these four individuals.
Now we meet Ian and Sileas, best friends in their youth and two young people who were deeply in love–possibly for the first time in their lives. But Ms Mallory has given us a brilliant book that clearly outlines the historical and political realities of that time. Both these people got caught in the political machinations of people they hardly knew, and adding in the tensions that existed for generations in ancient Scotland, the reader can’t help but get a clear view of the stresses encountered by Sileas as she is sent to Ian with every expectation that they will marry. Sileas still wants Ian because she still loves him . . . at least she loves the young man she remembers was kind, generous, passionate, warm and winsome. The man she meets years later is harsh, hard, all about clan business and the wars that may come in order the set the clan’s inherited leadership. Is this her old flame? Can they ever have any hope of finding each other again?
This is a story full of passion and color, war and peace, political manipulation and the creativity women of that time were forced to exercise if they were to have any hope of establishing a sense of place and of self in a world which viewed women as baby machines, property, or, at the very least, chattal. Sileas had no intention of allowing much of that to be her reality. The sparks that fly between these two people light up the literary skies and make this a book that is awesome in its scope and deep in its probing into the life that was norm in that day. Sileas’ struggle to find the man she loved and remembered is perhaps the foundation of this tale. But all around are the secondary characters as well as Ian’s “friends” who make this novel come alive, jumping right off the pages and engaging the imagination and response of the reader.
Lovers of historical fiction will find this book wonderfully satisfying while also engaging the love of romance for those who melt at the thought of those handsome and sexy Highlanders. Life in Scotland was a no-holds-barred kind of existence, and the people who lived then were strong and vibrant. These characters will live long in your remembrance and hopefully you, like me, will put this on your “favorites” list and among the books you hope to re-read in the near future.
I give it a rating of 4.5 out of 5
You can read more from Judith at Dr J’s Book Place.