Thursday, July 08, 2010
A Perfect 10: TEMPTED BY A WARRIOR by Amanda Scott
A Perfect 10
Grand Central's Forever
Annandale, Scotland, near the Border; Summer of 1377
Two years ago, the former Lady Fiona Dunwythie eloped with handsome Will Jardine, of whom her father disapproved. (It's so tempting to drop a few clichés here, e.g., Marry in haste, repent at leisure. Handsome is as handsome does. Never were they more true.) Will turned out to be a bully and a mean drunk. His father, Old Jardine, is no better, though bedridden. But now, after giving his wife a sound beating that could have imperiled the child she carries, Will has disappeared; some fear he's dead somewhere. Could Fiona be blamed for hoping?
Old Jardine has a sister whose son is Sir Richard Seyton, knight, baron and laird of Kirkhill. Richard receives a message from Old Jardine summoning him to his deathbed as heir to his estates. When Richard arrives, things are not as purported. Will has only been gone a fortnight, and he leaves a wife and child on the way to inherit. With troubles stirring on both sides of the border, however, Richard agrees to find out what has happened to Will and, meanwhile, to act as Fiona and the babe's guardian. His uncle makes no bones about wanting only a male with Jardine blood to inherit. He has no use for his daughter-in-law (whom he suspects may have killed his son) or any female grandchild who might survive.
Fiona is understandably wary of trusting another man, but she dares to be impertinent to Kirkhill and gets away with it. Even though he seems to her to be a true gentleman, unlike her husband, she dislikes being under his thumb. As Old Jardine seems to have a ways to go before entering death's door, Richard heads for home to prepare for his absence once the old man dies; he stops at Fiona's old home at Dunwythie along the way to learn what he can. Once home, he finds his troublesome young sister testing her womanly wings and giving his old friend Tony, Sir Anthony MacCairill, a hard time. He also finds his uncle, Sir James Seyton, with news. Ambitious Scots and English have chosen now to foment trouble along the nearby border. He and Richard must be ready to join the Douglas forces headed by Archie the Grim (an actual person in Scottish history).
As June gives way to July, Old Jardine dies, Fiona begins a long labor, and Richard returns, this time with some of his men at arms.
Whew! So much goes on in TEMPTED BY A WARRIOR that I'm finding it difficult to briefly summarize, so I won't attempt any more of it. That's not because the plot is hard to follow, just the opposite. Ms. Scott writes with intelligence and clarity. Her books feed the mind as well as stir the emotions, and her characters breathe life. Fiona and Richard establish a prickly relationship made more so by the forbidden attraction they both feel. The large cast of supporting characters—her extended family and his, their friends, the various servants and retainers, and several persons out of history—all add to the interest and action of this rich novel and, in fact, the whole series.
This series began with TAMED BY A LAIRD and continued with SEDUCED BY A ROGUE. While reading pleasure would be enhanced by reading these titles in order, TEMPTED BY A WARRIOR can very well stand alone. It's a masterful blend of historical authenticity, exciting action, and people's personal stories. It definitely merits a Perfect 10 rating.