Friday, October 7, 2011

New Review: Bertrice Small's BOND OF PASSION, Rich Scottish Historical and a Sweet Love Story

This is the latest in Small's Border Chronicles (see full list below). I have posted reviews for all of them on Amazon and find this one amazingly different from the others. But still, it's delightful.

If this is your first by Small, you should realize that she has a very different style and tells very complex stories. But if you can adjust your expectations from the typical romance to embrace her unique style, you will reap a rich reward as she plunges into an historical setting with well developed characters whose life experiences are realistic for the time, the 16th century, and the place (the border between Scotland and England). Small uses long narratives, repeated scenes told through different characters' eyes, "head hopping" from one character's perspective to another in rapid succession and a well woven tapestry of lives for a captivating story. One has to love the "historical" part of historical romance as Small provides details of what was going on at the time, including descriptions of food they ate (I got hungry with one passage!). But it all contributes to a rich background. The stories are absorbing. This one is also quite different from the others and can be read as a stand alone.

In this story, set in Scotland beginning in 1565, we meet Annabella Baird, the oldest daughter of an insignificant border laird from the eastern border, who is wed to Angus Ferguson, the Earl of Duin. Angus lives in a castle on the sea in the west and was rumored to be a sorcerer. Though Annabella is plain (a theme repeated overmuch in the book), Angus wants a piece of her father's land, and having had a bad experience with a beautiful woman when he was 23, he is happy to have plain Annabella, believing she will be faithful.

Actually for Small, this story is tame. There are no strange twists as some of hers include, no heroes dying, no heroines forced to live with another man. Still, the love story is a sweet one. There are some setbacks and some tragedies but no "black moment." It is rich in the history of Mary, Queen of Scots and the tensions between England and Scotland, Mary and her cousin Queen Elizabeth, and the Catholics and the Protestants. One could have done without all the references (and direct insults) to Angus' "plain bride." Much of the story was about plain vs. beautiful women with a strong bias against the latter, which seemed unfair to me. In the end, the plain bride triumphed, of course. I can recommend this one.

The Border Chronicles:


No comments:

Post a Comment