on 21 September 2007
In the crowded genre of the Scottish historical romance there are a great deal of recurring tropes that can make different books very samey. Although this book is somewhat different than the norm as it apparently has a paranormal aspect it was still ultimately not entirely satisfying.
Jamie Macpherson's nine brothers have all been killed in an accident on a bridge and he is returning home - partly to see his father (from whom he is estranged) but mostly to get married to the woman his father has arranged for him, Aveline Matheson. As he approaches his father's house he spies a beautiful faerie in the moonlight of St Bride's Glade; how convenient that she turns out to be his intended wife.
Their betrothal takes place but Jamie soon realises there is more to the deaths of his brothers than just an accident as they appear to be haunting his father and his fiancée has also seen them. Jamie's distrust of ghosts (Bogles) is such that he looks for a rational explanation, at the same time trying to protect Aveline. The author made rather a lot of the fact that Jamie is a big lad (and we're told multiple times that he's big all over... ahem) and Aveline is a tiny thing and so he's worried he might hurt her when they consummate the marriage. Fortunately the story gets distracted from these thoughts by trying to discover the truth behind the deaths of the other Macpherson brothers, working out who might gain from the deaths and Jamie being all protective of his betrothed.
What was good about this book was that the unmasking of the villain was a real surprise to me although it was effected by some rather unlikely plotting at times. The book gave good descriptions of the life and politics of powerful men in Scotland at that time, interspersed with the less satisfying paranormal aspect. The romance between Jamie and Aveline was fairly low-key as it was a love-at-first-sight story and it actually seemed to get in the way of the plotting at times. I was also distinctly dubious about the happy-ever-after potential; Jamie and Aveline are happy now but knowing his immense size and her tiny stature I expect her to die in her first experience of childbirth. However, that aside, this was a reasonable read and different from many of the books in this genre. It's clearly part of a series, with many other side characters mentioned, but it also worked as a standalone book.
Originally published for Curled Up With A Good Book, curledup.com. © Helen Hancox 2007