When your nickname is “The Bold”, finding yourself chained to a dungeon wall and completely naked is probably not the best time to try and live up to it!! But as he regains consciousness in exactly that condition, Donall the Bold refuses to give in to terror – after all, he is a knight of much renown. In fact, Donall MacLean had been escorting the body of his slain sister-in-law when he had been captured. The sad death of Lileas MacLean had jump-started a long-standing feud between the MacLean and MacInnes clans that could easily result in terrible bloodshed. Donall senses his time is short as his Clan MacInnes jailers tell him he will have a brief chance to make his peace before his death – he may be permitted to seek forgiveness and absolution from their lady chieftain.
And it’s no surprise to any seasoned historical romance reader that the Lady Chieftain Isolde MacInnes walks into Donall’s cell with dignity and walks out with his heart!! Isolde has her own scheme – one she feels will bring peace forever to the warring clans, and her goals are noble. Unfortunately, her plan is not very well thought out, and it’s made even worse by a very virginal set of nerves. Suffice it to say that Isolde and Donall end up desiring the same thing but for different reasons!! Both are likeable characters, and it’s easy to understand their positions within this feuding society. However, after several chapters, I was possessed of a strong urge to whack them both round the ears with a haggis and tell them to stop pussyfooting around the issue!! I must confess that this is a tribute to Ms. Welfonder’s writing – I was so absorbed in the story I wanted to yell at the characters – they had come to life for me and I was right there in the keep with them.
The love between these two is strong and fiery – matched by their temperaments. Donall takes life by the throat and shakes it roughly; Isolde faces it with courage and intelligence, and a pair of very shaky knees under her kirtle. The mystery of who killed Lileas and is fostering war between the clans is part and parcel of the romance, yet plays second fiddle to the scenes where Donall and Isolde are alone and learning how to recognize their hearts’ desire. This is a lovely historical novel that avoids the history lessons – it’s Scotland, it’s cold and the men are wildly wonderful! What more do we need to know? Sue-Ellen Welfonder has spun a charming romance that’ll make you yearn for the heather and a man in a plaid. A definite salute of the bagpipes for this book – it’s a lot of fun!!