Sunday, May 5, 2013

New Review: Rebecca Brandewyne’s FOREVER MY LOVE - Captivating Scottish Love Story, A Bodice Ripper at Times Disturbing

I read Rebecca Brandewyne's historical romance for her ability to sweep me away to another time and place and to create a world I feel a part of...and for her wonderful stories of a love that overcomes great obstacles to endure. FOREVER MY LOVE does all that, but there are some disturbing elements with this one that I feel constrained to point out to fellow readers. Notwithstanding those, I can recommend this as a captivating Scottish historical romance with a sweet ending.
An old woman's curse upon two families is lived out in this story of Scotland in the 15th century. The ancient tale was told of three castles on Loch Ness (we are given a map) and of bonnie Anne MacBeth of Glenkirk who was taken captive by the Carmichaels of Bailekair (and Dundereen) and never returned. The MacBeths stormed the castle of Bailekair to get her back, but they were defeated and left in shame. The old woman had raised the girl and her curse predicted the coming of the Devil's own spawn (a MacBeth, our hero) and the daughter of the lion, a "golden tigress" (a Carmichael, our heroine), the latter who would bring much suffering and death. The old woman essentially foretells that what the Carmichaels wrought will be brought down on their own heads. All this in the first 20 pages! Sooooo, we begin with the prediction of a lot of bad stuff. I suppose we should not be surprised then when all the bad stuff happens. And, it does--for 500+ pages. (She gives you your money's worth!)

Hunter MacBeth is a handsome rogue and warrior who had a gypsy mother who disappeared at his birth causing his father to take his own life. For some reason we are not told, Hunter has the "accursed" Carmichael eyes (purple). When he comes upon the beautiful Mary Carmichael, the only daughter of the Lion of Bailekair, Hunter mistakes her for a whore and tries to buy her favors. Mary, insulted, strikes out with her own insults and then knocks him out with a rock. Realizing she is a Carmichael, Hunter vows to have his revenge and finds it when they both end up at King James' court. At first Hunter's only desire in taking Mary is to ruin and shame her, and he does that (it seems all the Highlanders in this book who take women intend rape; perhaps it was historically the done thing); but once Hunter has her, he realizes he loves the proud, courageous beauty. And she loves him. Ah, but you know it won't be that easy. The story goes on as one tragedy after another happens; they are continually separated; and the blood of both clans flows freely.

Brandewyne does a great job of weaving a complex tale and her characters are so real and the villains so evil, you will find your emotions reeling. There was a point, midway through the story when I found their many trials wearying, and both Hunter and Mary got on my nerves, but the ending was sweet—and worth waiting for. I did find it hard to believe she would think Hunter could leave his monogrammed dirk in the back of someone he supposedly murdered. (He was nae a fool, as they say.) And I found it hard to believe Hunter could be as cruel as he was at one point. But perhaps Brandewyne intended we think badly of them.

This romance takes some endurance, as much happens and the main characters travel to Western and Eastern Europe of the day, but like so many of her stories, the end is worth the patience it takes to get there. It is an intricately woven story of first love, betrayal, heartbreak, unrequited love, loss of innocence and childhood dreams, and finally, enduring love.

Some might be put off by the brutality and rape, but they do seem to fit the tale. I can only say you will not be bored. For those Brandewyne fans who are not dismayed by the issues I have raised, you will find the story well worth the read.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the trip down memory lane! I remember reading this book when it first came out, many years ago, but didn't remember the details. She's a great storyteller.