"There will come a moment when you want to smile," she said softly.
"Even despite yourself, you'll begin to live, to want to.
The human heart finds a way through the darkness." ~ Karen Ranney
Margaret Dalrousie--a very talented and well known portrait artist--had lived in Russia for several years as a "darling' of the Imperial Russian Court. She had her art--was completely devoted to it--and knew where she was going in life and exactly what she was meant to do... until... she becomes the victim a terrible assault. And, unfortunately, when she reveals the details of her attack and that the possible culprits were "royals" she then loses the Empress's patronage.
With no chance of getting any new commissions, and the source of her income gone, she goes home to Scotland. However, soon after her return Margaret realizes the psychological strain of her terrible ordeal has not only robbed her of her ability to paint, but also of her sense of self... because up until this point of her life everything she is, thinks or feels has been inexorably intertwined with her art. Now pennilessness and at brink of starvation--with no way to support herself--she is fortuitously given ownership of Blackthorne Cottage, a small house located on the estate of the Earl of Linnet, by an anonymous benefactor.
There, believing her dreams have all slipped through her fingers, Margaret passes her days with long solitary walks and quiet contemplation; desperately trying to recuperate both in body and spirit, and find new meaning for her life.
But she doesn't realize her peaceful refuge is about to be disrupted by the return of a completely exasperating Earl...
Robert McDermott, the Earl of Linnet, has been living in France for the past three years and has now come home to Scotland to fulfill his responsibilities to his title, his home and his people--everything that was left to languish during his extended absence. But this is not a pleasant homecoming for him--he's mourning the loss of his beloved wife and daughter who were killed in a carriage accident that he barely survived. And Robert's still not completely recovered; physically he has pain--though he tries to hide it--and he limps when he's tired or overexerts himself. Mentally, he's still steeped in grief.
But by returning to Glengarrow--his home--his family's home--Robert knows he must now face his emotional heartache... all the anguish of his loss, and all the bittersweet memories of their happy life before the accident. He knows, as well, he must to come to terms with the "ghosts" that linger in his home, in his heart, and in his mind before he can accept that his life has been forever changed, but that his life will go on. Time alone is what he thinks he'll need, and the restful seclusion of the countryside surrounding Glengarrow is the perfect place for that.
But he doesn't know his sanctuary has been invaded by a completely infuriating female...
Both Robert and Margaret will soon find out that falling in love changes everything.
A Scotsman in Love by Karen Ranney is an exceptionally well written story; and one that's beautifully told, deeply touching--so emotionally honest--and realistic that I couldn't help but feel drawn into Robert McDermott and Margaret Dalrousie's fascinating lives. As I read I became completely invested in their HEA--truly wishing their developing love would grow stronger and be everything they needed to mend their battered hearts, restore their "lost" souls, and indeed, be their salvation. I felt almost as if they were good friends and I had a personal interest in their happiness. To me that's the sign of a great book and a very talented writer.
Ms. Ranney, an exceptional wordsmith, deftly and vividly paints their story with such passion and sensitivity that these powerfully compelling, intriguing characters literally came alive on the pages--and in this reader's mind and heart. The combination of a rich, complex storyline with a hero and heroine, who were so finely nuanced, lifelike, and relatable, captured my attention from the first chapter, until the last.
And I was absorbed in the atmosphere the author created; Ms Ranney's eloquent narrative and beautifully descriptive sentences effectively set the scene, situation and action in my mind. It was almost as if I was there--virtually--sharing her characters experiences as they took in all the sights, sounds and scents of the landscape around them. This story's set in 1852; during a stark, cold, desolate and bleak Scottish winter season. And I felt the setting perfectly paralleled the loneliness, melancholy, and hopelessness of Robert and Margaret's lives at that period in time... Then as the season changes, bringing the hopefulness of spring and the promise new beginnings; we see their feelings and outlook slowly start to change as well.
I really loved both the story and the characters, though; it undoubtedly was a bittersweet romance. But I thought the author made it so easy for readers to empathize with Robert and Margaret's plight--to care about them--and understand they both needed to travel on a personal, yet, similar journey through the grieving process. For me they became two normal people; good, decent human beings who'd been touched by heartbreak and tragedy, and who struggled everyday with their painful memories and at times with loneliness, or their unresolved anger, doubts, and fears. All emotions everyone has felt, endured and survived at one time or another in their lives. But now, as their healing cycle begins, they are finally ready to allow themselves to move forward in their lives, to take comfort from each other--in the here and now--and accept the gift of this incredible second chance at love.
This is simply a beautiful story. Bravo Ms. Ranney!