Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Romance in Scotland: A Novel, 4 Novellas, and One More Novella

Last week we had romance in Ireland; this week, we head to Scotland – contemporary, recent historical, and ancient historical Scotland, as well as few places where Scottish immigrants ended up.

First up: A contemporary romance novel that’s also a time-travel story.

In Tavish by Jane Stain, Kelsey Ferguson, Ph.D., is an expert on Celtic history and culture. She’s conducting an investigation at a site on Scotland’s western coast, a 15th century castle built atop a much older structure. One of the construction workers is Tavish MacGregor, an old boyfriend who abruptly walked out on Kelsey seven years before. And he seems to know as much as her subject field as she does, and he doesn’t have a college degree.

She soon understands why. Tavish has been tasked, as his family before him, with finding a specific artifact in the 13thcentury – and he has the ability to travel back to that time. He takes Kelsey with him, and she learns why he knows so much. She also learns that there’s danger in that 13th century world. 

I’m not a big fan of time travel stories, but if you are, Tavish will teach you a lot about Celtic history – while rekindling Kelsey’s romance with Tavish. 

The Highlanders is a Smitten Historical Romance Collection of four fast-reading novellas by four different authors. And all four tell interesting, engaging stories.

In Night Fox by J’Nell Ciesielski, a bandit is plaguing 1717 Scotland. Deven McLendon, home from the wars with England, finds himself a victim, robbed of some precious family heirlooms. At the same time, he finds himself increasingly taken by the beautiful Rooney Corsen, impoverished with her younger sisters by her father’s gambling debts. WE know immediately, but it will be some time before Deven learns that Rooney is also the Night Fox.

In A Tender Siege by Naomi Musch, Lachlan McRae is a British solder fighting in the French & Indian War (1756-1763) near Fort Pittsburg. He’s seriously wounded, with a musket ball embedded in his leg. In his fevered delirium, he keeps seeing his wife, who died in childbirth back in Scotland. And then he sees, and is seen by, an Indian woman, Wenonah, who’s English husband has been murdered by raiders and who’s very close to the time for childbirth. 

The Year Without Summer by Janet Grunst tells the story of the famines and enclosures that afflicted Scotland and Ireland in 1816. Highlander Grant Cummings has the care of his younger brother, and the two are forced by circumstances to seek out an aunt in Ireland. Conditions there are little better, and landowners are enclosing the lands for sheep and evicting tenants. Molly MacGrgor, who lives in Ireland with her own young brother, reluctantly takes in the Cummings brothers as tenants, and gradually sees her prejudice against Highlanders whittled down by Grant’s hard work and manners. Then she receives her eviction notice.

The fourth novella is another Scottish romance set in America, this time in 1915. In The Violinist by Jennifer Lamont Leo, Callan MacTavish works as a logger, and he’s injured when a tree falls the wrong way. He’s already lost two fingers in a previous accident, and he’s fortunate to survive this one. As he recovers in his room, he hears someone playing beautiful violin music, and he gradually learns the violinist is Rose Marchmont, a young woman staying with her sister and brother-in-law.  Despite her sister’s misgivings, Rose is attracted to the injured logger, and the two work out a plan for him to pay her for violin lessons while he simply listens to her play. But Rose will learn that Callan has a secret.

Liz Curtis Higgs, author of A Wreath of Snow, calls her story a novella, but it’s closer to a short novel. Set at Christmas in 1894 Stirling, Scotland, Meg Campbell upends her he plans to spend Christmas with her family to return to Edinburgh, where she teaches school. She changes her plans after yet another run-in with her brother, who’s been an invalid since his spine was damaged in an accident when he was 10. The cause of the accident was Gordon Shaw, who had had too much to drink and threw a curling stone when his and his teammates were in a curling competition. The stone hit Meg’s brother. Gordon, now a newspaper reporter, has lived with the guilt ever since; the family refused to see him or accept his apologies.

Gordon is in Stirling for a story, and he’s leaving on the same train for Edinburgh as Meg. He immediately recognizes her, but she doesn’t appear to know him. But she is definitely attracted to him, although, as a proper lady, she keeps her feelings to herself. They’re in the same train car, and some three miles out of Stirling, when a growing snowstorm stops the train on the tracks. The passengers are forced to walk back to the station, and Meg watches as Gordon helps shovel and then assists an injured woman by carrying her child. 

And then Gordon tells Meg who he is.

A Wreath of Snow is an engrossing story, with more than one person carrying a secret and Meg finding herself falling madly in love with the man who injured her brother. But it’s Christmas in Scotland, and anything can happen.

Top photograph: Isle of Sky in Scotland by K. Brembo via Unsplash. Used with permission.

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