2007, Stuart Era Romance (1600s Scotland)
Warner, $6.99, 336 pages, Amazon ASIN 0446619124 Part of a series
Iím definitely for new spins on the old romance formula, something to shake up the genre. But I canít help but feel all warm and fuzzy inside when an author comes along with an old fashioned love story. Add a great plot, just enough historical detail, and a lovable cast of characters...well (sigh), you just donít get much better than this.
We meet Kate Campbell in the opening scene wielding a sword and battle ax against a dummy while she trains alongside her clansman. Her Evil Uncle interrupts her training, suitably establishing exactly why heís the evil uncle, all the while Callum MacGregor and his men look on preparing for a fight. They are pulled up short when another band of men come to battle with the Campbells. Callum goes in and saves Kate, under the guise of using her as bait to catch her Evil Uncle. But really, Kate has struck a cord with Callum and he is drawn to her.
It isnít enough to say I was surprised by the characterizations of Kate and Callum. I had Kate had pegged for a feisty Amazon who would bite, kick and scream her way into Callumís heart. With Callum, I expected a plethora of lustful thoughts and not much emotional connection. I was wrong. Callum is that overgrown marshmallow of a hero that has an outer Alpha coating. He blusters and tries to posture about being the big bad chieftain, yet little Kate can bring him to his knees. He is intelligent and funny without being overly dour - a model for aspiring tortured heroes. While his childhood should have taken away any semblance of humanity, Callum still manages to be a companionable man. He does have tendency to be a little too proud, but what man is perfect?
Kate also wowed me with her unique personality. Her intelligence and common sense - something not seen in many parts of Romanceland - won me over. Her treatment of Callumís family, how she keeps her head up while being scowled at, and her loyalty to her brother made me love her just about as much as one would a sister.
There is strong dose of conflict, as any good romance should have. Not only are the MacGregors and Campbells mortal enemies, Callum suffered greatly during his youth at the hands of the Campbells. His name also proves a difficulty, being part of the outlawed MacGregors, a clan that has been banished for centuries. He is one of the few that kept his name in defiance of the Crown and hopes to one day have that name restored. He lives in a remote part of Scotland with his group of motley clansmen and women. This is where he takes Kate, and where Kate not only falls in love with him, but with his home and his extended family.
The only thing that gave me pause is the occasional purple sentence thrown into the otherwise wonderful love scenes. It is lines like "thrust his silken lance" and "scalding bounty of his seed" that take the grade down to an A-. And made me giggle.
Once upon a time, I read a little story called The Bride by Julie Garwood and fell in love with her vision of Medieval Scotland, historical inaccuracies and all. The Scotland of Laird of the Mist reminded me a great deal of Garwoodís Scotland - complete with castles and knights - with the added benefit of being more grounded in the actual history of the oft-overlooked Stuart time period.
The bottom line is that I will be keeping an eye on Paula Quinn and will be not-so-patiently awaiting a sequel that I feel is next in line. Laird of the Mist is a keeper.
-- Lisa Gardineer
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