by Susan King

July 2003
ISBN: 0-451-20955-9
Reviewer Graphic Button Signet Books
Mass Market Paperback

There is a legend the Scottish residents of the island of Caransay tell, that every one hundred years a man comes out of the sea, the kelpie, Lord of the deep, to claim a maiden from Caransay for his bride. The legend states that if he has a child of that maiden, he will protect the island from harm, bestowing great favor and fortune on them. It is on this night that a frightened young lass, Meg, allows her grandfather to row her out to the massive black rock, called Sgeir Caran. As fate would have it, Dougal Stewart is shipwrecked and washes up on the rocky shore, barely alive, but falls instantly in love with the sea fairy that has saved him.

Seven years have passed, and now Dougal has come back to build a lighthouse on the tip of the rock, the rock that nearly killed him, and took the lives of his parents in a shipwreck. The rock is solid, but as an engineer, specializing in underwater sites, he can tackle that obstacle. What stands in his way is the heiress, Lady Strathin, the richest woman in Scotland, who is equally zealous about protecting the Sgeir Caran, but for what reason, he cannot fathom.

I love stories that have mistaken identity, and this one doesn’t disappoint. Lady Strathin is really Meg, who pretends to be a widow so she can visit her son. Dougal takes an instant liking to Meg and the boy, Iain, who is really his son, conceived that magical night. The story really doesn’t have many twists, but it has a lot of colorful characters that help Meg keep her secret for as long as she can. This way, she can get to know the man she thought she’d never see again, and who has come to destroy her special place.

Her grandparents, the comic relief, insist that Dougal is really the kelpie, because he can safely swim with sharks when he rescues Iain from a fall into the sea, and dons diving gear to stay underwater for long periods of time. He is at home in the water, and the local people just love him. Meg is afraid to lose her heart, and possibly her son, when Dougal learns of her inadvertent deception. There are a lot of fun scenes between the two, but not much romance besides the romantic undercurrent, and I would have liked to have seen more, especially after the exciting way the story began.

I enjoyed the tone of this book, especially the humor. I look forward to the author’s next Scottish tale, about a friend of Dougal’s, Aedan MacBride, in Waking the Princess.

Reviewed in July 2003 by Suemarie.

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