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Customer Review

on 16 December 2008
Despite the clearly Scottish-themed title, this book wasn't particularly Scottish in feel; instead it was an exploration of how a young woman, married to a man she doesn't know, begins to chip away at her husband's reserve and to try to forge a future with him.

The husband in question is the Earl of Lorne, a Scotsman who had a distinguished career in the foreign service until he was imprisoned by the Chinese and tortured. Since his return to England he has shunned society and lives alone in his castle, finding himself succumbing to visions and fearing the onset of madness. Because of his responsibilities to his title he realises he needs to get an heir and so arranges a marriage with a local woman, Davina McLaren, whose reputation was ruined by an indiscretion and who is likely to remain a spinster.

Davina isn't the shy, retiring type of young lady, however. She finds herself wed to the Earl of Lorne, otherwise known as The Devil, and yet she barely sees him. Davina is something of a bluestocking and rather direct in her speech and she tries to learn about her husband and to forge some kind of a friendship. As she uncovers his secrets she may also uncover love, and she may be called upon to fight for the future of her marriage and even the life of her husband.

I very much enjoyed this book with its central romance, initially not particularly encouraging but gradually becoming something of warmth and understanding. There are occasional nods to the Scottish setting and the Victorian era, with reference to the opium trade with China, but overall this is a romance developing from an arranged marriage. There were some rather unfortunate errors in the text, including likening a character to a chipmunk (an animal not seen in the UK) and various characters speaking American words in the Scottish setting, and the habit, oft-found in American-authored novels, of the heroine retaining her maiden name as a middle name after her marriage - something that almost never takes place in the UK. I was also not entirely convinced by some of the behaviour of the characters, certain plot elements seemed rather too unlikely and the siege of the lunatic asylum at the end felt pretty far-fetched. However this was overall a good read and Davina was a rather unusual heroine and one to whom I warmed.

Originally published for Curled Up With A Good Book © Helen Hancox 2008
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