Lyn Stone often writes stories with strong-willed heroines and heroes who have a lot of preconceived notions that change as they fall in love. The Scot is no exception. Although enjoyable as a whole, it takes a long time for these two to realize they must change their thinking, and I can’t wholeheartedly recommend it.
In the mid-1850’s, Lady Susanna Childers is a renegade, fully embracing the notion of woman’s equality and not afraid to tell everyone that is the case. In London, she is less than well received. Her father, Lord Eastonby, despairs. He brings her to Scotland on business just to get her out of the scandal. He has an inkling that he needs to marry her off, but no firm plans.
James Garrow is the Laird of Galioch, an estate in the Highlands, just to the north of Eastonby’s estate at Drevers. He is in Edinburgh working as a stone carver on a building project. He comes to the city each year for six months to supplement his coffers in order to feed his people, and because he also assists those at Drevers who need it. His parents, now deceased, spent too much money on galas and frippery, as well as gambling, and left him an estate, but no money to pay for anything. The wool from the herd barely covers expenses. James is in need of wealth.
When James overhears a plot to kill Eastonby and his daughter, his honor demands that he tell them. He seeks them out and offers to save their lives. Eastonby is thankful and offers him a deal. James can take over the stewardship of Drevers, earning a salary, and he can have the honor of his daughter’s hand in marriage, thus gaining control of her wealth and eventually, her inheritance. James agrees; Susanna reluctantly agrees. They marry and work to build a life, while discovering the plot of who tried to kill Susanna and her father.
Susanna has many preconceived notions that rule her life and create conflicts for her.
1. She is certain that one time of making love results in pregnancy. Hence she preaches abstinence. And she asks James to spare her the marriage bed until she “gets to know him”. For some reason, he agrees. 2. She thinks all men rule with an iron fist. So she starts off haranguing and yelling to get her way, only to find that James is willing to let her have choices, within reason. 3. She is certain he has artistic talent that he is not using because he needs money, not because he doesn’t want to use it.
James also has his notions and these are in direct conflict with Susanna. He believes if he shows her his love, she will lead him around with a ring in his nose. He also believes he must deny his artistic tendencies or be ruled by those passions. He also believes women have the right to have opinions and should share in decisions, but he is still the man and as such, is the protector and the provider.
It is only Stone’s writing skill that keeps this story from bogging down totally. In actuality, Susanna and James struggle with these ideas but have depth to their characters as well. They argue, they confront and they listen and learn from each other. Although stubborn, neither perseveres in their stubbornness. The flow goes like this: a conflict is presented, they argue…er…discuss. One of them gets angry and stomps out. They each think things through and come back together ready to solve the conflict. Unfortunately, this pattern repeats itself a few too many times for me to endorse the story completely.
The secondary characters are all involved in the murder plot, so there is little suspense there. The townspeople who James supports and who Susanna wants to make into her family are not even discussed, except in terms of a cook, a maid, etc. This is very different from many stories set in the Highlands, where the characters in the clan are the essence of the setting. I felt this lack when reading the tale.
Overall, The Scot is an entertaining romantic tale, if one enjoys two strong-willed characters who literally argue their way into love. If you want more, look to Stone’s other books.