The Royal Mile

Written by Mary Daheim
Review by Beth Turza

The death of Dallas Cameron’s father comes the very night that Queen Mary of Scotland returns to Edinburgh in 1561. Dallas rushes back to tell him of the triumphant event, only to be waylaid by ruffians and then saved by a passing stranger. Just before dying, her father surprises them all by pulling the young man, Iain Fraser, close and revealing to him who his real father was.

Dallas and her sisters struggle to survive on the Royal Mile, while Iain seems to have an unlimited income. She stumbles upon the secret to his success and blackmails him into a marriage of convenience in exchange for keeping quiet. The court is a vicious place, with Iain in favor with the Queen at the same time his life is being constantly threatened. His six years serving the crown find him often away on missions. Despite his absence, Dallas finds herself falling in love with him, and he with her in the only way in which he is capable. The secret of his birth father remains one that he keeps until, at last, it is revealed by others.

Mary Daheim first wrote this historical romance in 1983 under the title Love’s Pirate. I had a difficult time with Iain’s treatment of Dallas; from the wedding night forward, she suffers humiliations and abuse. She stays with him, raises his children, and accepts her life while staying supportive and loving her husband. I would like to think that after the closing chapters of this novel, they resolve their marital issues, and they and their children live out the rest of their lives in peace away from Edinburgh’s intrigues.