Highlander’s Bride by Deborah Gafford paints 16th century Scotland in memorable colors even as it draws readers into Lady Katherine Gordon’s quest for love in a time when marriages were arranged, women were often just chattel, and men trained daily for battle and served their king and their clan with honor and without question.
One of the men to whom honor is everything is Alexander MacGregor, destined to follow in his father’s footsteps and become laird of the MacGregors. Alexander, like many of the rough-hewn men who protect their lands and kin from invasion, enjoys battle, romantic conquests, and his freedom--so being ordered home to wed the daughter of a family friend strikes him as unfair and certainly unwelcome.
Worse, the mandated marriage offends his sense of propriety since in a drunken stupor he spent the night with Fiona, a young woman he considered almost a sister, and he feels that if he must marry, he should marry her. Torn between knowledge of his own error and obedience and honor to his father and lord, Alexander wants nothing more than to find an avenue of escape until he can deal with the demands of his conscience and act appropriately.
Alexander is unaware that Lady Katherine is as opposed to the wedding as he himself is. Katherine grew up with the complete love and devotion of her parents, parents who did not see her as a prize to be married off for gain, but as the completion of their own enduring union. Unlike most noble women of the period, Katherine received an education in languages, in healing--in finding a sense of accomplishment in herself, rather than as the extension of a man.
When her parents demand that she marry Alexander, Katherine feels betrayed and abandoned, but convinces herself to follow the dictates of her time--women obey first their parents, then their husbands. She does so with dignity, but not without challenging Alexander and his feelings for Fiona. Regardless of the constraints of society, she is unwilling to settle for less than the kind of enduring love her parents have always shown each other.
Highlander’s Bride is intricately woven, allowing the true character of Alexander and Lady Katherine to develop much as their love grows--imperfectly but infallibly. As evil forces surrounding the pair conspire to tear them apart, both find the strength to overcome their own failings and fight back.
Readers will enjoy the Scottish dialect, the atmosphere created by Gafford's knowledge of the period, and the glossary to help with sometimes unknown vocabulary. The story itself provides twists and turns that leave one fearful for the couple until the very end. Gafford has done a remarkable job depicting a world very different than ours, a dangerous world, but one in which humor, courage and love were still the foundation for survival.
Not a bad lesson to be learned from a great read!
(The Highlander's Bride is available at
http://www.amazon.com/Highlanders-Bride-ebook/dp/B005FTQERO/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1316967478&sr=1-3 and other e-retailers.)