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Rose MacIain is a beautiful woman with a secret. Desperate and at her wits’ end, she crafts a fake identity for herself, one that Duncan MacIain will be unable to resist. But she doesn’t realize that posing as the widow of the handsome Scotsman’s cousin is more dangerous than she knew. And when a simmering attraction rises up between them, she begins to regret the whole charade.
Duncan is determined to resist the tempting Rose, no matter how much he admires her arresting beauty and headstrong spirit. When he agrees to accompany her on her quest, their desire for each other only burns hotter. The journey tests his resolve as their close quarters fuel the fire that crackles between them.
When the truth comes to light, these two stubborn people must put away their pride and along the way discover that their dreams of love are all they need.
The woman who opened the door was a matronly sort, dressed in a somber blue that nevertheless was a pleasant color for her complexion. Her smile was an easy one, as if she had long practice at being pleasant.
“May I help you?” she asked. “If you’re a friend of the missus, she’s dining with her family now. Like as not it’ll go on for a few hours. Do you need to see her?”
The smell of food wafted out of the house. Rose was so hungry she could define each separate scent: fish stew, freshly baked rolls, roast beef, and something that smelled like fruit cake.
Her stomach growled, as if she needed reminding she hadn’t eaten a real meal in two days.
“Mr. MacIain,” she said, pushing aside both her hunger and her fatigue. “Is he here? I need to see him.”
“You’ve business with Mr. Duncan? Well, he mostly transacts his business at the mill, miss. Wouldn’t it be better to call on him there?”
She didn’t know where the MacIain Mill was. She’d taken his home address from the letters he’d written Bruce.
“I’ve come from America,” she began, and had no more said those words than she was dragged into the house by her sleeve.
“Well, why didn’t you say so from the very first? From America? All that way? And here I let you stand on the doorstep. Is that your valise? And your carriage? We’ll take care of both right away.”
The woman, matronly only a moment ago, had turned into a whirlwind.
Rose found herself being led through the house, following the scent of food until she thought her stomach would cramp. In moments she found herself standing in the doorway of a small dining room.
Dozens of people, it seemed from her first glance, were seated at the table, all of them attractive and well dressed. Some of them were smiling as they looked up.
“Duncan? This lady came all the way from America to see you.”
She couldn’t think for the hunger. She couldn’t even speak.
A man stood, and she thought that hunger must surely have made her hallucinate. Tall, brown-haired, with the most beautiful blue eyes she’d ever seen. He smiled so sweetly at her, so perfectly handsome and kind, that she wondered if he was real.
He was broad-shouldered, with a face that no doubt captured the attention of women on the street. They’d stop to marvel at that strong jaw, that mouth that looked as if it could be curved into a smile or just as easily thinned in derision.
She hadn’t expected him to be so arresting a figure. No doubt that’s why she wavered a little on her feet.
“Yes?” he said, coming around the table toward her.
“Mr. MacIain? Duncan MacIain?”
He regarded her with a direct stare so forceful she felt as if her will were being drawn out of her with that glance.
She reached out one gloved hand toward him. Suddenly everything changed. The air around her grayed. The floor rushed up to greet her instead of him. Yet he somehow caught her when she fell. As he did so, she had the strangest thought, one that troubled her even as darkness enveloped her.
This was why she’d come all this way.
Publisher and Release Date: Avon, March 2016
Time and Setting: Glasgow and South Carolina, 1863
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 3.5 stars
Review by Wendy
This was my first experience of a Karen Ranney novel and to begin with I was pleasantly surprised, especially with the high standard of the writing. An American in Scotland is the third in Ms. Ranney’s MacIainseries and although I have not read either of the first two (In Your Wildest Scottish Dreams and Scotsman of My Dreams), I had no trouble sorting out the characters, the various familial connections or keeping track of the story line.
Rose Sullivan arrives in Glasgow at the home of Duncan MacIain. Dressed in mourning black, exhausted, broke and faint with hunger, she is admitted to the house and promptly collapses. On searching her reticule for evidence of her identity and finding documentation, the MacIains jump to the conclusion – fairly reasonably, given her black clothing and American accent – that she is the widow of their American cousin Bruce MacIain and is then made unconditionally welcome by the warm and friendly family. Although Rose doesn’t actually utter the words, she is guilty of lying by omission and knows it. Her long and dangerous trek across the Atlantic was a desperate, last ditch attempt to save her sister and family from starvation in South Carolina. Arrogant, cruel, Bruce MacIain is away from home fighting in the American Civil War and there is a shedload of his cotton going begging. Rose has taken it upon herself to brave the blockade in US waters in order to travel to Glasgow to persuade Duncan, to buy the cotton for use in his mill, and this is one of the reasons she cannot reveal her ‘lie’ – it’s not actually hers to sell. The whole story centres around this cotton and Rose’s determination to sell it to feed her family.
The author has a pleasing style and writes succinctly and knowledgeably. However, for the first third or so of the book, I was hard pressed to believe I was actually reading an historical romance as claimed. I’m talking more about a lack of connection or sensuality rather than any bedroom action, because Ms. Ranney doesn’t really deliver when it comes to an actual romance in this book. The connection between Rose and Duncan lacks warmth and sensuality – we are told that they are attracted to each other but I didn’t feel it. Although Duncan is a decent, honourable, salt-of-the-earth kind of man, he isn’t someone with a strong enough presence to remain with me; I couldn’t actually ‘see’ him. And then there’s proud, defiant, capable Rose – who has been so badly treated that it was difficult to understand why, when faced with the opposition and sheer ingratitude of her family, she would risk her life so often to help them! And her treatment at the hands of Bruce is mentioned so many times that it became irritating. The pair of them are almost too good to be true.
On the positive side, Karen Ranney paints a very evocative and moving picture of life under the tyrannical rule of the despotic Bruce MacIain and the appalling atrocities suffered by the slaves in those times. She obviously has extensive knowledge and I found her impeccably researched historical content and its delivery very well done which made for compelling reading. But this is billed as an historical romance, and while things do improve towards the end but I still didn’t ‘feel the love’ and although Rose and Duncan do get their HEA, it all feels rushed and just a bit too neatly tied off.
While I enjoyed the skill with which An American in Scotland is written and found the historical detail interesting, the romance is disappointing, and this led to my feeling somewhat cheated after I finished the book. If you’ve read the other books in the series you might want to read this for completeness, although if you’re looking for an emotionally satisfying romance, you won’t find it here.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Karen Ranney began writing when she was five. Her first published work was The Maple Leaf, read over the school intercom when she was in the first grade. In addition to wanting to be a violinist (her parents had a special violin crafted for her when she was seven), she wanted to be a lawyer, a teacher, and, most of all, a writer. Though the violin was discarded early, she still admits to a fascination with the law, and she volunteers as a teacher whenever needed. Writing, however, has remained the overwhelming love of her life.