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on 7 June 2003
This follows the story of James, the most handsome of the MacRae brother’s. Haunted by a murder he unwittingly committed James accepts a task given him by his uncle Fergus (from the previous Highland Lord books). He meets the beautiful Rhiona. James is Rhiona’s perfect man but obstacles stand in their way.
The methods of sorting the obstacles are well thought out and don’t leave that sense of frustration that sometimes occurs when you feel like crying “for goodness sakes just …”. The physical descriptions of the love scenes between Rhiona and James are graphically described but with great sensitivity.
James is every woman’s dream hero with a body to sigh over. Rhiona is a worthy partner, funny and brave, willing to sacrifice much for the happiness of her family. The secondary love tale between Susanna and her cantankerous steward Old Ned is also enjoyable.
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I've been reading Karen Ranney's books off and on and I must say that I've found most of her books really enjoyable.

In this third book about the MacRae men, I was really let down. Although we had worthy characters in Riona and in James, the story moved way to slow, plus I had issues with how the minor characters were portrayed as it related to the storyline.

When Riona is compromised by Harold McDougal - who is interested primarily in what her dowry will bring - Susanna, Riona's mother, who was portrayed as an understanding, caring person made decisions that in my opinion didn't stick to how her overall character was drawn. Susanna applied a lot of pressure for Riona to accept marriage to Harold knowing Riona didn't love him. Furthermore, Susanna knew that Riona had been set up by the scoundrel. Susanna's reasoning didn't make much sense to me. She was concerned that if Riona didn't marry Harold, her other daughter's reputation - that would be Maureen - would be sullied and that the man she had on a string - Samuel, who isn't actually in the story except for a couple of paragraphs - would not come through and marry Maureen. So, one might say that Riona's happiness would be sacrificed for Maureen. Pressured by her mother and in effect by Maureen, who by the way walks around all sad eyed thinking her life will be over if Riona doesn't marry Harold "what's his name," Riona finally agrees to marry the jerk.

Enter the big handsome James MacRae after Riona has agreed to marry Harold "who cares what his name is." Harold's entire being was so unnecessary to the story except for his part as the man who "done somebody wrong" that we barely have any interaction with him once he's played his role to set Riona up for ruin. James is all that he should be, but doggonit - James needed a better storyline.

Once the handsome James enters the picture, all of a sudden, Mama decides to tell a big whopping lie so James will stick around the family farm and help figure out who is stealing sheep and cows and what have you. All this to set Riona up with James... By the way, you do recall that Riona is now engaged to Harold mostly because of the pressure applied by Mama. So, is Mama a little nutty or what?

Okay, I could have gone with the story up to this point, but the romance which one would assume would take place between James and Riona takes foorreevveer to get going. I kept thinking I would simply quit reading the book because it became quite dull after awhile. I persevered and finished, but, I can't in all honesty recommend this book as a "good read."

Technically the author is a good writer - but, this story just had too many holes for my satisfaction. However, I will definitely continue to read other books by Ms. Ranney.
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on 12 January 2017
What a terrific story and a wonderful series by a great author.
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