Seven years have passed since Glynis MacIain made the foolish mistake of declaring her love to Lennox Cameron, only to have him stare at her dumbfounded. Heartbroken, she accepted the proposal of a diplomat and moved to America, where she played the role of a dutiful wife among Washington’s elite. Now a widow, Glynis is back in Scotland. Though Lennox can still unravel her with just one glance, Glynis is no longer the naïve girl Lennox knew and vows to resist him.
With the American Civil War raging, shipbuilder Lennox Cameron must complete a sleek new blockade runner for the Confederate Navy. He cannot afford any distractions, especially the one woman he’s always loved. Glynis’s cool demeanor tempts him to prove to her what a terrible mistake she made seven years ago.
As the war casts its long shadow across the ocean, will a secret from Glynis’s past destroy any chance for a future between the two star-crossed lovers?
“You’ve come home,” Lennox said.
Glynis wanted to pull away but stood still. Precipitous gestures could be misunderstood. Better to allow him to hold her hand than cause a scene, especially when whispers swirled around them.
“It’s the MacIain girl, home after all these years.”
“Wasn’t there some scandal about her?”
“Is this the first time she’s been seen in public?”
Were people recalling those times she followed after Lennox as a child? At five years old she marked him as hers. As a young woman she was prepared to tell him she adored him.
He must not affect her. She wouldn’t allow it. She was no longer nineteen and desperately in love.
“Why didn’t you come home sooner?” he asked now, still holding her hand.
Instead of answering, she only smiled. The diplomatic ranks did not value honesty and so she became adroit at sidestepping it.
He still smelled of wood and the ocean. Whenever anyone said the word “ship” or she tasted a brine filled breeze, he would appear in her memory with a twinkle in his eye.
The hint of beard showing on this important occasion wasn’t due to any sloth on his part. He had to shave more than once a day to eliminate a shadow appearing on his cheeks and chin.
“I think God wants me to have facial hair,” he said to her. “But God and I are going to disagree.”
He was a foot taller than she was, dressed in black evening wear accentuating his shoulders and height. All his life he’d worked hard and it showed in the breadth of his chest and muscled legs. Something about him, though, hinted at power and always had. In a crowded room people sought him out the way they looked to leaders and confident men.
Lennox Cameron resembled a prince and a devastating Highlander and he’d been the hero of most of her childish dreams.
No longer, however. Too much had happened in the intervening years.
Publisher and Release Date: Avon, January 27, 2015
Time and Setting: 1862, Glasgow, Scotland
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 5 stars
Review by Lady Wesley
Karen Ranney delivers a passionate second-chance romance, international espionage, and a solid history lesson in her latest book. The story takes place in Glasgow, Scotland, but the events of the American Civil War loom large in the background of Glynis and Lennox’s lives.
After several years in Washington, D.C. with her diplomat husband, recently widowed Glynis has returned to Glasgow to find that the once-prosperous family mills are suffering because the Union blockade of southern ports is preventing shipments of cotton from leaving America. Her brother, Duncan, searches for a solution, but he is on the verge of having to close down. On the other hand, his best friend Lennox’s shipyard is thriving by building swift blockade runners for the Confederates. As he would with a real brother, Lennox would like to help, but Duncan’s pride will not allow for that.
After disappearing from Glasgow for seven years, Glynis walks into a reception honoring Lennox’s father. Lennox finds her changed from the “irrepressible” girl he had known. She is still beautiful, but “she’s brittle. Very polite, excessively so. She smiles at you but her eyes are flat.” But Lennox is intrigued, and attracted, and he is not going to allow Glynis to ignore him. The more she tries to pull away, the more determined is his pursuit.
Glynis is a sympathetic heroine who let a girlish humiliation lead her into a quick marriage to an acceptable man she barely knew. Although he dies before our story begins, Ms Ranney gives the reader a vivid description of an obsequious toady at work who becomes a petty tyrant at home. He molded her into the perfect diplomat’s wife, but in doing so he almost destroyed the real Glynis. (She is deeply ashamed of some things she did in America, and her secret leads to complications with Lennox. I didn’t entirely buy into this, but that may just be my modern sensibility.)
Lennox is a delicious hero: handsome and rich, of course, but devoted to his family and in a way rather lonely. Their interactions are fun to watch, and the romance is very satisfying.
Ms Ranney has populated this world with vividly drawn secondary characters. There is the visiting American planter Gavin Anderson, a Confederate blockade runner full of charm and bonhomie (think Rhett Butler) and his English wife Lucy who constantly complains about everything in Scotland. Glynis’s girlhood friend Charlotte, and her family, portray the snobbery of Glasgow society and are almost comical in their awfulness. Sinister American Matthew Bauman, whom Glynis knew in Washington, lurks in the shadows and may be a spy. Or a saboteur. Or a murderer.
Which brings me back to the history. Great Britain was officially neutral during the American Civil War, but Scots engineering and business ingenuity helped the Confederacy sustain the war effort while London turned a blind eye. Shipbuilders along Glasgow’s River Clyde were said to have employed 25,000 men and boys during this time. Vast fortunes were made, and Glasgow was full of spies from both the Union and the Confederacy. Sabotage of ships under construction was a constant worry. At the same time, Scotland’s mills were suffering from a lack of cotton, and the arms in/cotton out blockade runners were practically the only way to get keep the mills running. Even so, the cotton-spinning industries never recovered from the effects of the war. (And did you know that the magnificent Clydesdale horses that we American love to watch in beer commercials were bred to haul lumber and supplies for the Clydeside industries?)
This is what I love about reading historical romance: the ingenious use of real history as a backdrop for stories of love, and Karen Ranney excels in this. Of course, the love affair between Glynis and Duncan is the main story, and it is not overshadowed by the history. But the secondary plots – gossip, blackmail, bankruptcy, spying, sabotage, snobbery, and murder – keep this intricate story humming along nicely. The structure and pacing are excellent; I kept turning the page to find out what would happen next. What more can a reader ask for?
Karen is giving away a $50 Gift Card to the book retailer of choice to one lucky winner drawn from entries throughout the tour – which you can follow 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.