by Hannah Howell

September 2004 Reissue
ISBN: 0-8217-6917-0
Reviewer Graphic Button Zebra Books
Mass Market Paperback

Ailis is a MacFarlane, the hated enemy clan of the MacDubhs. But her nieces and nephew are half MacDubhs, because their late mother had an affair with Barra MacDubh until her death. When Alexander MacDubh, head of the clan, finds out about the children he is determined to capture them and bring them to his home. When he succeeds, he takes Ailis as well.

There is so much happening in this book, and as always Hannah Howell captures the spirit of Scotland and the clan system of the 14th century. She brings it very much to life. She captures the atmosphere of betrayal and vengeance so well.

This is very much a love story. Alexander is a man who hates women with good reason, having been betrayed by a wife and a stepmother. He is determined never to risk his heart, but he means to have Ailis to infuriate her betrothed and her guardian.

Ailis means to enjoy the experience because she hates the man chosen for her to further her Guardians clan links. He is a vicious bully, and Ailis dreads becoming his wife. Alexander with his handsome looks is a better prospect to lose her virginity to. The idea seems far-fetched, yet women were bargaining tools in those days and had no say in their future.

There is plenty of passion to tempt the reader and danger is very active in the story as well. Ailis faces some stark crises before she gets her heartís desire, and that is what adds tension and excitement to the novel and grips the reader.

There are some excellent secondary characters in the book from the very evil Donald MacCordy, Ailis' betrothed, to the gentle, simple giant, Jamie, who is Ailis protector and is determined to keep her safe from harm. Then there is little Sibeal, the 5-year-old niece to Ailis and Alexander; she has the gift of second sight, which in those times was much feared. They all add richness to the tale.

Well worth a read. A good story from a well-loved author.

Reviewed in October 2004 by Mary.

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