on 9 July 2012
After Karen's last book - a borrowed Scot, which I can't say I enjoyed that much - I was hoping that her latest offering would be a return to form for one of my favourite historical writers and I'm pleased to say, despite a few quibbles here and there, that it is!
The location is Ballindair, country home of Morgan MacCraig, Earl of Denbleigh who has returned to lick his wounds following the scandal of his previous wife whom he has divorced. Within hours of his arrival he bumps into, literally, Jean MacDonald, a maid working in the castle and so the begins the relationship between them. He is bitter from his previous marriage and she is not whom she appears to be. A series of unorthodox meetings occur between them which unsettle her and intrigue him and which put in place the foundation for the rest of the book.
The continuing conversation between the two principal characters is bright and funny (one of Karen Ranney's strong points is that she can write witty dialogue easily) and so it's always enjoyable when Morgan and Jean run into each other, in fact, you're almost treading water until they do. Female characters are always well written, although in this case, I did get slightly exasperated with the continued reference to this dark secret which Jean carried around with her and her trepidation on revealing it to Morgan - was always going to be an anti-climax.
Would a maid and Earl ever have had a relationship at this time? It's doubtful however it didn't really detract from my overall enjoyment of the story and I couldn't stop reading the book until I'd finished it. Welcome back Karen Ranney!