Guest Review: Guess What Washed Up On My Shores . . . “The Laird's Choice” by Amanda Scott

Please welcome my mama to Tracy's Place.  Some of you know her as Judith, some as Dr. J, some as a guest reviewer on Book Binge and some not at all.  I just know her as Ma.  However you know her, or don't, just know she writes great reviews and will be hopefully be writing a few more for my blog in the future.  

Duty Bound . . . Lady Andrena MacFarlan has been different since the day she was born. Possessing the power to sense others' most intimate desires, she knows her duty is to marry the man who will take the MacFarlan name as his own and help her father regain the chiefdom of their clan. But her unique gifts don't prepare her for the day when a mighty warrior suddenly enters her life. The attraction between them is undeniable -- and insatiable.

Desire Unleashed . . . Hunted by brutal enemies, the wounded Magnus Galbraith washes up on MacFarlan land where he is rescued by a laird's lovely daughter. Andrena is like no one Magnus has ever known. She has the uncanny ability to both calm and enflame him in ways he never dreamed possible. But she has other unknown-and dangerous-powers. Now, as Magnus seeks to avenge a brother and protect a king, the young beauty could prove his greatest ally-or his ultimate undoing.

Historical novels aren't for everyone.  There are lots of different kinds of history-based novels that are far less intense than those written by Amanda Scott but I, for one, happen to like the heavy nature of her writing.  She is an author that does lots and lots of research and leaves no doubt in the minds of readers that she knows this time period backward and forward.  That being said, this particular novel is set in a time when  Scotland was being torn asunder by political and clan rivalries, when the reign of Scotland's king was on the brink of coming to an end, when the characters in this story were caught in a clan and family battle for power and position within the Clan Farlan (as it was then called).    The Lady Andrena's father, the rightful Laird, was hopeful that with the marriage of his oldest daughter he could secure the kinship and loyalty of a strong son-in-law, hopefully a warrior, and one who would not feel threatened by taking the Clan Farlan's family name as his own. 

Thus the stage is set for the romance of Andrena and Magnus, two very strong people who had learned to survive under very difficult circumstances.  Magnus had been taken as a prisoner of war during a clan conflict that had caused his brother's death—a death for which his father blamed him and had essentially disowned him.   For two years he survived as a galley slave until  he found opportunity to escape during a timely storm.  He was literally “washed” into Andrena's life and when she brought him home—wet, bedraggled, and seeking sanctuary from those who would again imprison him, the clan laird saw his future son-in-law standing before him.  Curiously, Andrena predicted that such would be her father's response to Magnus' appearance in their keep.  And so their relationship begins. 

This is a very involved historical novel and I have to say that if the reader is one who likes a little history mixed in with their romance, this is probably not the novel for you.  This story reeks of history and there were times I felt that the historical content overwhelmed the romance.  Yet thinking back on that reading experience, it was the history that made their relationship possible and which constantly shaped the experiences in which their relationship grew and matured.  Certainly the marriage was consummated.  Arranged marriages and especially those of political necessity never depended on love or romance.  Yet Magnus was a man of his time in many respects and yet he was one who was attracted to Andrena, recognized that there were facets of her personality that were, to say the least, mysterious.   Her willingness to fit in with her father's plans, to see the rightness of what needed to happen and to accept Magnus' presence in her life as husband testify to the way she was raised and to the fact that her father had treated her as a person of worth, not just a female handy for breeding. 

It is a credit to this author that she found a way to feature the relationship between these two very different people in the midst of a historical context that was so convoluted and mired with war and conflict.  The characters in the story are both real and fictional, but all are merged together in a literary tapestry that is seamless so that the reader, especially one not really knowledgeable of this era, cannot distinguish one from the other.  It is a novel that testifies to the fact that even arranged marriages were successful, whether deeply loving or just grandly respectful  didn't matter.  In Andrena and Magnus' case, what began as political reality and burgeoning respect, gradually grew into a passionate love affair that gave both these people an opportunity to be loved and cherished beyond their expectations.

I want to comment also, that I don't think the publisher's blurb is quite as accurate as I would like.  This romance didn't begin, to my way of thinking, with that electric spark or thunderous awareness of deep potential passion.  I think it started with a quiet attraction, a set of possibilities that gave Magnus a new start and Andrena the possible home and hearth she craved, but it was a marriage/romance that grew quietly and steadily into a grand passion for them both.  Now don't get me wrong.  They certainly found ways to light up the sheets almost from the beginning.  But perhaps this story is more about how their arranged union grew from political necessity and physical consummation into a bond that made their marriage a true and loving one.

Ms Scott is a prolific writer and she just keeps on gracing her readers with some beautifully written stories.  I, for one, am deeply grateful.  We all know there are lots of romance fiction writers and there are lots of levels of expertise and ability “out there.”  It is a grand thing to encounter novels that not only tell and really good story but which educate the mind and memory as well as entertain the soul.  This is one of those books.  

I give it a rating of 4 out of 5

Amanda Scott 

If you'd like to read more of Judith's reviews you can check out her blog Dr. J's Book Place

1 comment:

Hilcia said...

Welcome Dr. J. :)

Great review. Like you, I love to read involved historical romances once in a while. I have a few books by Amanda Scott in my TBR and am going to check to see if this one is there.