Sunday, April 13, 2014

New Review: Jan Westcott’s THE BORDER LORD – A Classic set in 16th Century Scotland…and a Very Worthy Read

This is a wonderful story, but a bit difficult to review. Though it was published in 1946 (it was Westcott’s first novel), it can hold its own with today’s stories. At times it seemed more historical fiction, as Scotland’s history is very definitely a character, but there is also a romance here, a love story of a bold border lord and his lady. And I found it refreshing that it developed in an unusual way. As historical fiction, it drew me in. The dialog was well done and realistic for the time period. As a romance, the story captured my heart but, alas, they were separated often (as they would have been true in history) and that will disappoint some romance readers.

Set in Scotland in the late 16th century (1591-1593), this is the story of Francis Hepburn Earl of Bothwell (presumably based on Francis Stewart, 5th Earl of Bothwell), a Border lord who fell out of favor with King James VI for his rebellious ways.

In a daring escape from Edinburgh Castle, where he’d been imprisoned on trumped up charges, Bothwell is freed and flaunts his freedom while impressing the daughter of a wealthy Scots nobleman, Anne Galbraith. Anne is a bit of a rebel herself and not above chasing after Bothwell on his latest escapades. Yet there are many other women who love him and one who isn’t above treachery to keep Anne from him. To me, Anne and Bothwell seemed perfect for each other. I loved Bothwell’s devil-may-care attitude and his wit, but he also had a gift with people and a knack for strategy that made him a compelling figure. The sad part was that King James couldn’t recognize the asset he had in Bothwell.

Though this is fiction, Westcott weaves in many historical events and real historical persons, which gave it an authenticity I loved. It was obviously well researched. There is plenty of action and adventure in this story, much of which really took place. And it is very well told. For those of you who like tales from old Scotland with a daring hero and a feisty heroine, and real history on every page, I recommend this one!

The book was included in author Shirlee Busbee’s “short list” when I asked some of my favorite authors to name their 5 favorite historical romances. (You can see the post HERE.)

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