I am slowly discovering Karen Ranney as a source of great romance reading. The first novel I read by Ranney was When the Laird Returns and it was no more than an average book in my opinion. Warily, I eventually picked up a second Ranney book, After the Kiss, and was thrilled with its greatness. As I began reading To Love a Scottish Lord, I knew I was testing the author on the quality of her books and this particular book placed her on my favorite authors list. To Love a Scottish Lord was an original romance with very sexy overtones. Both the hero and heroine are unusual for romantic leads. Both are very likable, truthful sorts, and do not have a class-conscious manner of thinking - which was uniquely welcome!
Hamish MacRae, a man of Scottish descent, was a successful captain of his own ship. In port in India, he and his crew are captured and killed or tortured. Hamish suffered through months and months of extensive torture before escaping into the desert. His brother and crew eventually find him barely alive. Hamish is brought to Scotland, at his request, to live in an abandoned castle. Most of his wounds have healed physically but he no longer has the use of one arm. But the worse wounds are those that cannot be seen and they are very severe. Not only has Hamish been tortured, he has also lost all respect for himself and any sense of decency. He just wants to live the life of a hermit at the deserted castle on the sea. His brother however, does not believe Hamish should be alone. He brings a well-known healer to the castle to begin extensive therapy with him. Hamish doesn't want a healer but soon finds himself almost obsessed with his beautiful healer.
Mary Gilly is a widow and healer. Her deceased husband had been a successful goldsmith and Mary now has a comfortable living from the wealth he has left her. She concentrates on healing the indigent since they cannot afford a doctor's care and she is not a doctor. But she is an intelligent woman who studies constantly to further her knowledge and ability as a healer. It is a true calling of her heart and she is very dedicated to the cause. When she is asked to go into the wilderness of an old castle fortress to treat Hamish, she accepts because she knows his family and believes she can help him. When Mary meets Hamish, she is shocked to find all he has suffered both mentally and physically but hides her shock as she begins his therapy. Hamish doesn't want her treatment but Mary can be quite persistent and, armed with a positive attitude, begins treating him anyway. He attempts to push her away with stubbornness, hostility, refusal, and finally sexual aggressiveness. Mary refuses to give into his games and finds she is actually attracted to the withdrawn and beaten man.
Within a few days of the beginning of Hamish's treatment, both Hamish and Mary acknowledge a huge physical attraction between them. Thus, a new form of treatment is added to Hamish's daily regime. Although Hamish is the typical romance hero in that he will never love, he does realize that he needs Mary in ways he does not understand. He admits his need for her and asks her to stay with him for an unknown period of time. He lets the small staff at the castle go and only Mary and Hamish remain. They indulge in their physical relationship endlessly and love just spending time together as well. This part of the book is very sensual. The sensual scenes are actually integral to the book and rate a solid 4.25 out of 5.0 (see More About Me for rating guidelines).
As Hamish and Mary's relationship grows, a sudden change in location is forced upon them. The book takes a sharp turn but does not lose your interest a bit. The situation that forces the two apart only reinforces their care for each other. This is a romance that continues to build. It does not suffer from one or the other of the leads deciding that they can't love, or won't commit or any number of the overused reasons we see for conflict in romance writing. It is only outside forces that push them apart but their hearts are never pushed apart in the process. Although both suffer some scars from their past, they are mature individuals. They know how to communicate truthfully and it is refreshing to have a book about two people who are grown up and know how to act like it.
To Love a Scottish Lord is the fourth in The Highland Lord series. The order of this series is: One Man's Love; When the Laird Returns; The Irresistible MacRae; and To Love a Scottish Lord. I don't believe Ranney is finished with this series yet because there are still some unattached MacRae brothers out there. It would probably be preferable to read this series in order but I have not. Both of the books I have read in this series could be stand-alone books. It is proving to be a great series so if you only have one of the books - go ahead and dive into it. There will be fun reading regardless. I am now searching out the other two books in this series I have yet to read. I am also looking in general for other Ranney books because her book, After the Kiss (which is not a part of this series) was one of the best romances I have read in some time and I want to see how many more of those great books she has out there.