Monday, February 6, 2012

New Review: Judith McNaught’s A KINGDOM OF DREAMS: A Medieval Scottish Love Story that will tear at your heart!

This is effectively a prequel to WHITNEY MY LOVE and UNTIL YOU, the other two in the Westmoreland Dynasty trilogy, as it tells the story of the first Duke of Claymore.

Set in 15th Century Scotland and England, it tells of two Scottish sisters of noble blood who are abducted by an English warrior earl (the Wolf) in service to King Henry after battles at Cornwall. The sisters are abducted by the Wolf's brother from the abbey they were sent to by their father, the Scottish laird of Clan Merrick, who has only pragmatic uses for daughters (marrying them off to enhance clan relationships). The heroine (one of the sisters), Jennifer Merrick ("Jenny"), is also a countess and instantly attracts the Wolf. 

As a girl of 17, Jenny was betrayed by her clan, based on lies told about her by a jealous half sibling. She feels (correctly) that the clan doesn't want her, but even so, she still tries to do right by them. She has a creative and rebellious yet humble spirit, and yes, a strong will and a courageous heart. What's not to like about that? The Wolf, having captured the girl, is drawn to her spirit, which is evidenced by her successful attempt to escape and draw a blade on him, feats no one else has accomplished. Having taken her virtue, he is willing to marry her but never gets around to telling her before her clan rescues her. When Jenny and the Wolf are forced to marry to assure peace between Scotland and England, the Wolf is bitter, believing Jenny duped him.

Judith McNaught writes exceptionally well. She serves up witty dialog, humor, sexual tension, great character development and a great plot. I initially rated it 4 stars because of some issues I have with the hero, Royce Westmoreland, the Earl of Claymore (the "Wolf"). However, upon a second reading, I gave it 5 stars. 

Royce appeared at times to be such a cad that it was difficult to finally see him in a good light when the great turnaround came. First, when he realizes he wants Jenny, he shames her in front of his men by making his lust and dishonorable intentions apparent. Then, he takes her virginity without so much as a care for robbing her of her honor. Although he eventually decides he'll marry her, it's only after he assumes she'll be his mistress. Perhaps that is the way men thought about women then, but looking through our 21st century eyes it is maddening. Royce shames Jenny in the eyes of two countries when it is not only clear he's ruined her but then disavows any interest in her. He fails to see that he owes her an apology or any reparation. In fact, he failed to see her side of the whole affair until the end. For many, many pages, I just hated him. And when his own people, reflecting his sentiments, call Jenny "the Merrick slut," I just wanted him to suffer.

His turnaround from lust to love just didn't ring true, but upon my second reading I decided that perhaps he did love her from the beginning and was not consciously aware of his own feelings (the author suggests this late in the book with reference to he scene in the glade. Still, it's hard to justify his treatment of her.

In any event, whether you agree with the negatives or not, it's a wonderful romance and Judith McNaught's writing is superb. It will definitely tear at your heart!

Here's the whole Westmoreland Dynasty Saga:

* A Kingdom of Dreams (1989)
* Whitney, My Love (1985)
* Until You (1994)
* "Miracles" in A Holiday of Love (1995/Oct) and in Simple Gifts (1997)
* Someone Like You (formerly entitled: Can't Take My Eyes Off of You) (upcoming 2014)


  1. Hi Regan,

    Thanks for all your hard work on McNaught. My wife and I have all of her novels. I'm reading Paradise as of this writing. It is the best.


    1. Bob,
      I'm so glad you like PARADISE. I have re-read it several times and even knowing the plot and the ending, it gets me every time!

  2. Hi Regan:
    Thanks for another great blog.
    Virginia Henley

  3. Thanks, Virginia, for stopping by. I can't wait for my "Virginia Henley" week on my blog this month and your guest appearance!

  4. Whitney, My Love was the book that first introduced me to historical romance and so, despite the controversy over the 'rape', it still has a place in my heart and on my keeper shelf. I went onto read Until You and A Kingdon of Dreams and the series has remained one of my all time favourites.

    1. When I first read Whitney, My Love, I had major issues with both the hero's and heroine's actions toward each other. I just couldn't see him raping her and then walking away from her. Egads! She was totally ruined. I could see him forcing a marriage but not walking away. Despite that improbable element (a pet peeve of mine, improbable elements), I came back for more McNaught and have read all her historicals. She is one of the few authors whose contemporary romances I will read, too.


  5. Once again another winner from JUDITH MCNAUGHT. I love all the feelings her book makes me feel. I bought every one she ever wrote. I wish they would make them movies.