The Woman Outside
Following on from The Witching Woman, Sarah Vern’s debut novel, The Woman Outside, continues the story of Alexander McNair and Mhairi-Anne Graham’s love affair. Although recently married to Victoria and now the father of a young son, Alexander cannot forget Mhairi-Anne. Outwardly content the McNairs live like strangers rather than lovers. Victoria’s hopes are raised when she discovers her pregnancy, but she is hiding a great secret that threatens everything she’s worked for.
Matters come to a head when Mhairi-Anne’s engagement to Alexander’s uncle, James, is announced. Alexander battles jealousy and Mhairi-Anne has more interest in his marriage and his son than Alexander realises.
Although it could be read as a stand alone novel, The Woman Outside does work more completely as part of a series. That aside, second novels are notoriously difficult to write and the author has done well to avoid the trap of repeating vast tracts of its predecessor’s plot.
Once again Sarah Vern delivers more than a romantic saga. Those strongly Victorian values of family loyalty and duty lie at its heart, but it’s her subtle character studies that underpin a story full of emotion and intrigue. A welcome sequel and hopefully the beginning of a follow-up series.