Yesterday was not a particularly good day for Montgomery Alexander Fairfax, the newly titled 11th Lord Fairfax of Doncaster, Scotland.
He'd had the best intentions when he'd endeavored to learn how he could return what appeared to be a valuable gold and diamond encrusted antique mirror to its rightful owner. Having only been in London a short time, when his new solicitor recommended he take it to the Society of the Mercaii to determine its origin, it had seemed like a good idea, though everything had gone wrong from there.
Once there, Montgomery had no idea he'd be required to play the gallant knight and rescue a beautiful, though foolish woman from a dangerous situation, but that's exactly what he was called upon to do.
Still, he didn't think his day could possibly get any worse, until he insisted on doing the right thing again by personally returning her unharmed, though nearly naked and shoeless, back to the safety of her home. However, he was wrong about that too.
Though how was he to know Veronica Moira Macleod's family was of the British nobility or that her uncle would be so outraged by her reckless, improper behavior that he would immediately banish her from his home, leaving her to fend for herself in the dead of night?
Montgomery knew darn well he was going to have to rescue the imprudent woman once again; his conscience wouldn't allow him to just leave a naïve young woman to walk the streets alone and unprotected. He'd have to bring her home with him and place her in the care of his housekeeper, there was really nothing else he could do.
But when the Earl of Conley suddenly shows up on his doorstep at the crack of dawn to demand Montgomery do his part to avert a dreadful public scandal by marrying his niece, well, Montgomery was very sure things were about to go from bad to worse.
He'd had no plans for marriage when he'd come to England, but fate, it seemed, had other plans for him. Though Veronica had made a foolish mistake, she didn't deserve to be completely ostracized by society and ruined, so he would do the honorable thing and marry her.
They say the road to Hell was paved by good intentions, but Montgomery has no idea his marriage to Veronica just may be his path to Heaven.
A Borrowed Scot, the final book in her Tulloch Sgàthán trilogy, is probably my favorite story to date by USA Today Best Selling Author Karen Ranney, and that's saying a lot since I love her thoroughly eloquent style of writing and the heartwarming, emotional tales she tells. But there was just something uplifting about this story that tugged at my heartstrings and left me feeling wonderfully gratified. I know it included several of my favorite subject themes: a marriage of convenience combining culturally diverse people with different backgrounds and traditions, a heroine that's a little bit unusual, the poor relation and the reluctant hero, that the author neatly blended together to make for a terrific storyline.
My favorite type of hero is the reluctant hero. I find them simply irresistible, especially when they're the type of guy who's willing to step up to the plate and "do the right thing" whether they want to or not--because the core of their being is bound by firm moral principles, honor and integrity. They're perfect husband material. Montgomery Fairfax was a good, solid and honorable guy and a great reluctant hero. He was a fine southern gentleman that came from a well respected Virginia plantation family, but who had suffered through unforgettable life-changing events and terrible personal loss as a direct result of the American Civil War that had finally ended after 4 years of turmoil and devastation.
Yet now, after the ink has scarcely dried on his claim to the title of Lord Fairfax and through no fault of his own, marriage to a total stranger was suddenly being thrust upon him; and because he is an honorable man, he reluctantly accepts the responsibility of saving a woman from social ruin or worse. He never planned on the marriage so he's not happy about it, and in the beginning he's a little cranky and resentful about his sacrifice and not above voicing his irritation to Veronica.
At the start of A Borrowed Scot, Montgomery and Veronica have some trouble settling into their unexpected marriage, but as the story progresses we witness the characters slowly starting to grow closer. The author shows us how they're first drawn together by physical attraction, with a healthy dose of lust, but the blazing heat of passion and desire gradually melds into something more, and we see it give rise to deeper feelings of tenderness, devotion, and love.
Veronica learns the secrets of the marriage bed under Montgomery's passionate, but gentle tutelage, and finds them to be exciting and wickedly delightful, unlike anything her aunt had told her to expect. Montgomery learns he's married to a woman of surprisingly fiery passions and also finds solace in Veronica's warm, welcoming embrace.
Ms. Ranney writes her character's physical intimacies and love scenes, or as Veronica calls them "relations", in a way that is completely and superbly romantic, refreshingly honest and tasteful, and yet, substantially detailed to satisfy the more sensualistic of readers. I can tell you Montgomery and Veronica weren't thinking of England or the Queen while they were making love, and neither was I. :)
With each other's help Montgomery and Veronica face their personal demons and begin to heal old wounds. Soon their sense of anguish, guilt and sorrow starts to fade, and as hearts begin to mend, hopefulness gently tiptoes into edge of their consciousness allowing them to see a light at the end of the tunnel...the flicker of optimism and the twinkle of a brighter future together as man and wife. We readers are there for that too, and we revel in their happiness.
Thank you, Ms. Ranney for a lovely story.
Also recommended: Karen Ranney's Sold to a Laird and A Highland Duchess and Karen Ranney writing as Katherine Storm Murder by Mortgage (Murder Pride Murders)