The Highland Earl (Lords of the Highlands)
This Scottish romance takes place during the reign of Queen Anne, in 1713. The Highland Earl is John Erskine, Earl of Mar, a real person from the time, and his love interest is Lady Evelyn Pierrepont, his second wife. The book opens on Lady Evelyn spying for the Jacobite cause; I love a heroine with a purpose outside of heir-manufacturing, though her naiveté made me wince. Two months a widow, Lord Mar needs a new wife, and when in London, he finds a girl, and the girl’s father signs a contract. Ah, romance.
Lady Evelyn continues spying, and despite the fact that the whole plot hinges on her misdeeds, it feels inauthentic. Lord Mar is charged with treason, and they abscond to Scotland once discovered. The spousal turmoil feels very genuine, and is a highlight. But the plot interferes again, and the post-Scotland action goes twice as fast as the rest of the novel: lickety-split, we’ve visited several monarchs—some Pretenders, some not—in the space of less than one hundred pages. The best parts take place in Scotland. The problem is, not enough of the plot takes us there. Still a decent read, but not one that will satisfy a Scottish craving.