Julian MacTavish’s honor made him guard a friend’s secret. But his lies to keep that vow make it difficult to prove his faithfulness as a husband. When a terrible inferno scars Patience’s body and mind, she becomes a recluse. She hides not only from her friends in the Marlborough Set, but her husband as well, thus further widening the divide between them. But it’s her lack of trust, not her disfigurement, which sends Julian home alone to the highlands of Scotland convinced he’s lost her forever.
Forgiveness in the face of death comes easily to Patience MacTavish, but the thought of being a burden to her husband does not. When a twist of fate takes Julian’s sight from him, Patience returns home hoping to make amends for not having faith in him. Pity is the last thing Julian wants from anyone, especially his wife, and it’s his turn to question her sincerity. Now, Patience must convince her husband that she’s come home to the highlands for no other reason than love, even if it means arranging her highlander’s seduction.
Publisher and Release Date: Maroli SP Imprints, September 2015
Time and Setting: London and Scotland 1897/98
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 4 stars
Review by Wendy
The Highlander’s Woman is the third in The Reckless Rockwoods series but can be read as a standalone. I was looking forward to reading this novel having previously read and reviewed Ms Burns’ Mirage, which I loved. While it was no hardship to read The Highlander’s Woman and I enjoyed it, Mirage proved a hard act to follow. I admit to being a little disappointed, but I suspect that is more because my expectations were so high. This book does have some darkness and angst (which I really look for in a novel) but lacks the meatiness and intensity which initially attracted me to Monica Burns’ writing .
The story begins with the two protagonists already married and deeply in love, which is fairly unusual. But external factors start to sow the seeds of discord, and although they do not fall out of love, they begin to doubt each other as a result of the events that follow.
Patience Rockwood and Julian MacTavish meet, fall in love at first sight and after a whirlwind courtship, they marry. They enjoy a very sensual and sexually satisfying relationship but despite this, Patience fails to conceive in the first year of marriage and it becomes a matter of great concern to her although Julian isn’t half so hung up about it as she is. Among other things, her failure to conceive causes problems with Julian’s father. The Laird of Crianlarich is an autocratic and dictatorial man who took a dislike to Patience before he had even met her because he had already picked out a wife for his son, the young and beautiful daughter of a friend and neighbour. Although Patience is half Scottish and of good birth, she would never have been good enough for the Laird. After a visit to Julian’s home where the Crianlarich makes his dislike obvious and where she is introduced to the beautiful (and manipulative) young woman who was Julian’s father’s choice, Patience is demoralised and returns to London. Julian is then obliged to return to Scotland alone to carry out his duties as heir, and so their marital problems begin.
There follows a series of events which drives the lovers further and further apart. Patience is possessed of ‘the gift’ or in Gaelic ‘an dara sealladh’, the second sight, which all of the Rockwoods possess to varying degrees and which sets them slightly apart in society. It is one of the reasons that Patience is considered eccentric and why she believed she would never attract a suitor until Julian swept her off of her feet. ‘The gift’ rarely fails her, yet she has snatches of worrying images over a period of time which she cannot interpret, and for which, when the terrifyingly horrific details become reality, she blames herself. This sets in motion a chain of events that will alter all of their lives for ever.
I won’t go into further detail, but suffice to say that Patience and Julian have to learn to live with the fall-out of these events and also to learn to love and trust each other again. In fact, the book is really all about that journey of finding and getting to know each again other in a way they did not at the beginning of their love story. There is a point at which they are almost there, although Patience has yet to reveal her ‘dark secret’ I and admit to feeling ever so slightly let down by its revelation.
I liked both characters very much; each is well developed and likeable although Patience is slightly annoying in her initial lack of self confidence, because she had no real reason to be. I mean she had the love of this gorgeous hunk who quite obviously admired and adored her.
Monica Burns uses lots of beautiful Gaelic words and phrases which I loved, although her attempt at a Scottish dialect did not work for me. The smattering of Americanisms, …sass – American term for cheekiness … bobolink – North American songbird – is also jarring, and I can’t understand why, when the author has gone to so much trouble to carefully research the liltingly beautiful Gaelic, she hasn’t paid as much attention to other aspects of the language. How difficult can it be to research birds native to Scotland? On the whole though, The Highlander’s Woman is a well-written story, albeit with a few too many misunderstandings for my taste. The protagonists do, however, get there in the end, and I will read more of Monica Burns’ work, as on the whole I like her writing style.