has also reviewed:

The Rebel & the Lily

The Renegade & the Rose

 
The Rogue & the Heather
by Christine Dorsey
(Zebra, $5.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-8217-5883-7
****
There are a number of reasons why I enjoyed The Rogue and the Heather. The first and foremost reason is because Ms. Dorsey has crafted an engaging, truly timeless romance. In addition, the author deftly weaves many interesting historical events into the story line and creates a feeling of the time actually the times both before and after the attempts to place Bonnie Prince Charlie and the house of Stuart back on the throne. A third reason is simply that I find the concept of past-life recall, including the possibility that the people we love and hate in our past lives keep reappearing in our future lives, fascinating.

However, I think a major reason why I enjoyed this book so much is because I had already read the first two books in the series and this story filled in the blanks left by the The Renegade and the Rose and The Rebel and the Lily. That's not to say that I don't believe that The Rogue and the Heather stands on its own as a well-written and entertaining tale it does. Then again, I'm not sure that someone who has not read either of the first two books in this series will understand everything the hero refers to, or not feel that every once in a while the author is taking off on an inexplicable tangent.

The hero of this story, Foxworth Morgan, is haunted by dreams; dreams of a battle he participated in and can never forget: the Battle of Culloden. During this time Fox experienced something strange, something he has never been able to explain or truly comprehend. While encountering two enemies, instead of the hate he was supposed to feel, he felt a bond, a connection between the three. The other two men share this familiarity, this feeling of being connected, and all survive the Battle and its atrocious aftermath.

Three years later, on his thirty-fifth birthday, Fox is drawn back to the site of the Battle, Drummoissie Moor. Lightening strikes and Fox finds himself transported forty-four years back in time. When he awakes, he is disoriented and can't even remember his name. Grace MacCammon, a twenty-eight-year-old widow, takes Fox in and cares for him. Fox quickly regains his memory, but just as quickly starts to question his sanity at what he believes has happened to him.

Grace believes in Fox and his tales of the future; also, she recognizes him from her own dreams, dreams of a past life. A loyal Scot, Grace wants Fox to go to Edinburgh and try to do something to change history, to change the events that lead to one of the cruelest battles in Scotland's history. But Fox doesn't believe he can change history and he doesn't want to leave Grace, especially since he believes that someone is trying to kill her. In addition, he's starting to recognize people in this time as the souls of people he knows in his own time.

Anyone who has stood on Drummoissie Moor, the site of the Battle of Culloden, has probably been affected by its beauty, its silent sadness. The Battle itself was horrible; the Scots, vastly outnumbered and weakened by starvation, barely put up a fight. However, it was the atrocities by the English occurring after the Battle that scarred the souls of many a Scot. Also, although most think of the Battle as simply England against the Scotland, many Scots did not want the house of Stuart to regain the throne and they fought for the English; making the Battle of Culloden a bit of a civil war in Scotland's history.

Given all that, it's easy to see why the Battle haunts Fox and why the idea of being able to change history is so very appealing. Still, that's just a very small part of this romance's appeal and I don't want to put off readers who want a romance that focuses on love and not history. Ms. Dorsey includes lots of romance in this tale and there's also the fascinating time-travel aspect to this story. For example, there's a scene where Fox meets his very young father and almost kills him. And, the time-travel aspect creates the uncertainty of a happily-ever-after ending for Grace and Fox that keeps the reader reading.

Although The Rogue and the Heather is a bit different in style and concept from The Renegade and The Rose and The Rebel and The Lily, it is part of the series and it does contain references to the characters in the previous books. So even though I believe this story stands on its own, for maximum enjoyment you may want to read The Renegade and the Rose first. Like many romance fans, I'm very partial to the concept of a timeless, forever love and that is truly what The Rogue and The Heather is about. And that is why I believe readers will enjoy this last and, in my opinion, best book of the series.

--Judith Flavell


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