Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Review: Connie Brockway’s THE PASSIONATE ONE - Superb Scottish Historical Romance!

This is the first in the McClairen's Isle trilogy and it’s wonderful! An enduring Scottish historical for the "keeper" shelf.

The stories in the trilogy tell of a family of two brothers and a sister, Scottish by their mother Janet McClairen, and English by their father, the charming, selfish, ruthless Ronald Merrick, now Earl of Carr. Many years ago, Merrick fled his debtors in London to come to McClairen's Isle in the Highlands with an aim to take it from the McClairen clan. He came to woo the clan but ended up winning the laird's cousin, Janet. She gave him two sons and a daughter and then mysteriously died falling off a cliff. 

Later, through treachery, Merrick gained McClairen's Isle, and the title of Earl of Carr after helping the English at Culloden at the expense of the clan. His wife's relatives wanted revenge and went after him. Instead of taking him, however, they captured his sons. The Scots didn't want to kill the sons (they were half Scottish) so they were sent off to prison in France.

This is the story of one of those sons, Ash, who was freed when his father paid the ransom but his brother, Raine was left in France to rot. Ash lives to free his brother. In 1760, Ash is summoned by his father for an errand: to fetch back to Scotland Carr's ward, Rhiannon Russell, from England where she's been living for the last 10 years. While Ash loathes his father, he is willing to undertake the task for the money it will bring, money that will buy Raine's freedom.

Rhiannon is haunted by nightmares of having been hunted as a young girl by the Butcher of Culloden, Lord Cumberland, and has no desire to leave her place of refuge at Fair Badden. She is betrothed to a handsome Englishman, and while neither is in love, it is a good match for Rhiannon. And then comes Ash...

Brockway writes well, her words, phrases and dialog capturing the time period. She has wonderful analogies and lines that put you in the moment ("It had been waiting for her return for a decade, like a witch's unwanted familiar."). Her language is wonderfully descriptive so that you see each shadow cast by the moonlight and hear each cricket ("The winnowing wind whispered a spurious greeting and the chill mist stretched milky fingers up to brush her legs in mock obeisance.").

It is a well-woven plot, the story is believable and the passion and conflict between the hero and heroine convincing. The hero is one of those darkly handsome men, noble in heart, who has become jaded by life's experiences ("...his eyes were dark, his wrists scarred, and his soul as tattered and patched as a gypsy's cape..."). Ash never looked for nor expected to find love. Rhiannon is hiding from a past that frightens her, nightmares of being chased by Lord Cumberland's dragoons. She wants only peace--like an opiate. But Ash does not bring peace; instead, he brings a passion neither wants to acknowledge.

I just loved this book and didn't want to put it down. I highly recommended it and the rest in the trilogy!

The McClairen's Isle trilogy:

The Passionate One
The Reckless One
The Ravishing One

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