I could not agree more with the Publishers Weekly review listed above. This book never really takes off at all on a number of really glaring levels if this is supposed to be a 'romance.'
It is clear from the start that Elspeth and Patrick are destined to fall in love, so since it is all magic, there is little suspense or romantic tension. I would have loved to see some sizzle!
The only sizzle are the copulating supernatural characters sucking each other's toes, and the eagerly swiving King James fondling every wench in sight when his lairds are all rebelling. Not too thrilling.
Even worse is to come, however! I can see that the author is setting up for the next book in the series by introducing Patrick's sister Bab and her would-be suitor Alex, (no suspense there, eh?) but it kills the romance to have Patrick treating Elspeth the same as his sister, and constantly threatening to spank her like a two-year old.
Likewise his seemingly unrequited passion for his best friend Fin's wife Molly detracts from his romance for Elspeth. Sorry, but it makes it much more gripping to have only one couple in a romance, with some real spark, not three of four with none.
On a practical level, the fact that Elspeth is known as Beth, Bethie, Bessie, and Elizabeth as well makes for confusion. The reams of information on how to train a hawk are interesting but really not romantic at all.
There is no believable affection or heat between Patrick and Elspeth, and his accent shifts from the King's English right the way to Gaelic so often it is a wonder she could ever posibly trust him to get close to him, let alone understand half of what he is going on about.
All of the characters are one-dimensional-the equivalent of the evil step mother and two step sisters, the decent guardian who is completely ineffectual against them. Out of the whole vast cast of characters, no one jumps out at us.
It is a totally unsexy version of Cinderella. Any of the suspenseful bits, for example the supposedly exceedingly nasty Earl of Angus who completely drops out of the picture once Elspeth's mother Nell escapes, and the whole danger of Elspeth being killed, are badly mishandled and thus not effective.
Even the supernatural elements become, not magical or romantic, but silly and absurd.
This author has some very good ideas, but gets so bogged down in details and plot she forgets we are supposed to have some characters that we really want to care about and root for to the happy ever after ending.
As a light read, it could be fine, but tipping the scale at four hundred pages or so, you really need to have stamina, a huge tolerance for boredom and saccharine 'romance', and nothing else to do with your time.