Friday, May 16, 2008

The Pride of Lions and Blood of Roses, Marsha Canham *****

I finished Marsha Canham's The Pride of Lions yesterday and immediately started in on the sequel, Blood of Roses. It reminded me of Outlander, and I noted the books were published before Outlander. No, it isn't time travel - but it is about a Jacobite Scot married unwillingly to an Englishwoman referred to as a Sassenach, and it does take place in the time leading up to Culloden. And he does have a price on his head for murder and has been abroad to avoid getting caught or assassinated.

It's obvious Canham has done a fair amount of research about that time period, with all the details she provides, so it does kinda get me that she keeps having the hero strike matches to light his cigars when matches were not invented until the early 19th century, some 80 years after this book starts. I only knew that detail from the Outlander series, where Bree tries to invent matches about 1770... So I wikipediad it to get the details.

Both books are about the same hero (Alexander Cameron) and heroine (Catherine Ashbrooke), following their first meeting, when Catherine comes across Alex taking a bath on her property and threatens to have him arrested as a poacher, to their first social meeting, where she discovers he is a friend of her brother. She flirts with him to make her boyfriend jealous, it goes a little teensy bit further than she anticipated (no, she isn't compromised but I think she gets a hint that maybe she's a little more interested in him than she realized, and he in her) and in a twist of fate so often found in romances, next thing you know, there's a minister and a forced wedding on the spot after the hero bests the boyfriend in a dual.

He's 32 - she's 18 - wow, even for the time, that is a big age difference. And over the course of the next 3 weeks while he sort of kidnaps her and takes her to Scotland, they develop a relationship (but do not consummate the marriage, with the intention of annulment) and she completely changes from spoiled and pampered to feisty and independent. And yet - in spite of how that sounds - I bought the premise and loved it. Actually, she was spoiled and pampered but also feisty and independent all along - so maybe it wasn't so hard for her to realize there was more to life than balls and gowns, once she'd had a taste of it. After all, her parents were indifferent to her, so she doesn't feel much of a compulsion to return to them - and that was another motivation for getting out on her own. Still, at 18, well...

The two of them do realize their attraction, and with not too much haste, consummate after all (quite thoroughly, and more than once) - and in that, decide they are indeed soulmates and cannot live without each other. Well, except for that silly Jacobite rising thing, and the fact that she's not a Jacobite and the fact that he has that price on his head for something that happened 15 years ago so he's in constant danger anyway. So he ships her back to England - end of book 1.

What? End of Book? What about their happy ending?? Well, it is a happy ending in that they do fall in love, but of course, there's book 2 - where Bonnie Prince Charlie comes to reclaim the throne for his father, and Alex - brother to Young Locheil - goes to war with his clan. And Catherine discovers her brother is also a Jacobite - and her parents split up - and she manages to join her husband when the Jacobites come to her town. I'm about half way through - this is a keeper although, ok, I'm skimming the war details because, yawn, it isn't as interesting as the love details!!

Really, I'm such a sucker for a well-described love scene where the hero is totally smitten with the heroine...

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