JoAnn Ross's first book of her Stewart sister trilogy is a unique blend of Scottish-American culture with historical facts and fantasy centered on the Brooch of Lorn, a historic jewel which has gone back and forth between the feuding Stewarts and the MacDougalls ever since it was ripped from Robert the Bruce's tartan in 1306.
The main characters, Lily Stewart and Ian MacDougall MacKenzie, aren't looking for romance or commitment, but the attraction that sparks when Ian appears at the Stewart castle resort in the midst of a terrible storm will not be ignored. The castle, affectionately called Stewart's Folly, straddles the North Carolina-Tennessee border of the Smoky Mountains and is home for the eclectic Stewart clan.
In order to maintain the sprawling manor, the family sponsors the Highland Games on the castle grounds. Ian, under the guise of filming a documentary about the games, has really come to steal the brooch for the MacKenzie clan. Lily is the coordinator of the games. Lively sensual dialogue snaps back and forth between the two as each attends to his/her personal agenda. The twists and turns in their romance provide a fun read.
The transitions between character history, brooch history, and storyline are a little awkward at times, but Ms Ross's superb and evocative word pictures paint the Scottish Highland games firmly in the reader's mind.
The engaging personalities of her secondary characters add yet another level of charm to the book. Duncan MacDougall, the ornery Scotsman who sent his grandson to America to reclaim the brooch; Lily's father John Angus Stewart and his very young fiancée Jenny; zany, mystic Aunt Zelda; divorced Aunt Melanie and her bag piping daughter, Missy, and Lily's grandmother Annie are all quirky, captivating characters who draw you into the story.
OUT OF THE MIST is a terrific combination of Ms Ross's distinct contemporary writing style and her story weaving gift. Her subtle, witty humor interspersed with all that Scottish history, firefly science and even the geological review of plate tectonics keeps you turning the pages. The snippets and hints of the coming stories of Lily's two sisters, Lark and Laurel, will have you eagerly awaiting the sister's stories.