Monday, April 29, 2013

New Review: Jan Cox Speas’s BRIDE OF THE MACHUGH – A Highland Classic and an Absorbing Love Story from 17th Century Scotland!

My friends on Goodreads recommended this book to me, and I was happy to find it. A bestseller when it was first published in 1954, it has been off the market for some time. The edition I read was published in 1978, available used at the present time. It’s worth obtaining a copy, trust me. If I could give this novel more than 5 stars, I would. It’s a keeper and so well written it would be a good model for authors today. Even though there are no love scenes per se, there is a lot of sexual tension and much romance to satisfy the historical romance lover. The writing is simply beautiful.

Set in the Scottish Highlands in 1614, it tells the story of Elspeth Lamond, a beautiful young woman, the product of a handfast 20 years earlier between her Campbell mother and Lamond father, both Scots. Raised in England, she is a favorite at Queen Anne’s court. Her uncle, the powerful Archibald Campbell, Earl of Argyll, has plans to marry her off to a rich, titled man. But to fulfill a promise to her dying mother, she leaves London for the western coast of Scotland to Inverary, the home of the Campbells, her mother’s clan. On the way, she is abducted by the MacHughs and held at Rathmor castle where she was born, the lair of her father Robert Lamond and his ally, Sir Alexander MacHugh, Chief of Clan MacHugh—the feared “Black MacHugh.”

Alex is attracted to the strong willed Elspeth—a perfect match for him—from the very beginning. He wants her as “his lass,” but does not speak of his love nor offer her marriage. Elspeth is exasperated by the arrogant Scots chieftain who kisses her whenever he likes (though she does not reject those kisses, oh no). Then she discovers she likes the Scots who surround her and the wilds of the Highlands—and she likes the MacHugh. As her father tells her of the qualities that make Alex stand out as a leader, respected by all, he remarks, “…Scotland is a quarrelsome place at times, my dear Elspeth, and a man must look sharp to keep his head intact upon his shoulders.”

Schemes and treacheries abound in this well told tale, not only from Elspeth’s uncle but from Alex’s mistress, the beautiful Kate who would force him to wed her by getting with child. Alex takes a stand with the MacDonalds in their battle for independence in the Isles against the Campbells fighting as King James’s cats paw. The characters are compelling, the action suspenseful and the anxiety as to whether Elspeth will end up with the MacHugh will have you turning pages late into the night.

I liked Alex and Elspeth so much they are going on my Favorite Heroes & Heroines list. 

By the way, if you like the more modern cover, I'm showing 
it here, but I, for one, do not prefer it. I like the fact the 
original cover by Tom Hall shows the MacHugh as a 
rugged guy who is dressed and looking very intensely
into the heroine's eyes. He is much more as I pictured him
from the novel.


  1. I already put it on my TRL. I also agree with you on the cover.I much prefer the older one. Thanks so much for the post. I'm excited to read The Bride of The MacHugh.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

    1. It's a keeper, Carol. I know you'll enjoy it. I think Speas was a master.