3.75 stars for the romance
4 stars for the secondary characters & themes
Though the main characters were lovely, though some secondary characters stole the show at times, though the love story was sooooo sweet(if a bit flowery), this was one of those times that the overarching themes outshined all of the rest.
The themes in this story encompassed redemption, forgiveness, family honor & love, and healing. Tristan Macgregor & Isobel Fergusson are the driving forces of these morals, which is the reason why I was able to overlook the fact that Tristan is not my usually preferred highlander hero AND Isobel was almost that typical heroine who fought her feelings for more than half the book.
Tristan, true to his namesake, goes on a quest to mend the rift that has caused two families, his family and the Fergussons, sorrow and toil. It's nothing new that Tristan is inspired by the only lass, Isobel, of the Fergusson family. Yet, he goes beyond his interest in her in order to win over her brothers, whom he treats with fairness, patience and much needed guidance.
While this may make Tristan seem the epitome of honor and savior, it is dually pitted against his inner turmoil to find himself and reconcile an uncomfortable divide that has kept him somewhat emotionally apart from his remarkable father, a father who has had to compete with the total love Tristan had given his most beloved late uncle, Robert Campbell.
He had lost as much as they had, even more, because he had lost his purpose when Robert Campbell died.
Two conflicts are underlain by a secret or more appropriately, the truth of about Tristan's uncle's death at the hands of a Fergusson, which is a truth revealed early in the story to the reader, fearfully withheld, and then gradually let out, but not before hearts are half-mended and old grudges start to melt.
Because of this, the forgiveness between the clans was much more believable. The author put the characters in situations where they got to know one another and see beyond their hatred and fear so that when it was time for the truth, most just understood it was more unnecessary tragedy that needed to be accepted and buried with the past.
The journey of the characters, of Isobel and Tristan, of Isobel's brother's, of Tristan's family, was more profound that I'd expected. Tristan and Isobel's love was born from it because that love was as equally dependent on their families as it was on just their two hearts alone.
The love story was slow, heartwarming and sweet. So sweet
that whenever Tristan spoke of his love, he sounded more like a bard I pictured in cute man-tights holding out flute and flowers instead of a fierce highlander warrior in plaid with nothing beneath (snickers). Here is some of Tristan's poetry in its full gallant glory:
“I dreamed of yer face.”
“I would hold ye in my arms and never want another thing.”
“Dinna’ weep, fair Iseult, I will dash yer fears to pieces. I will change the things that sadden ye to things that give yer heart joy. I told ye,” he said, hooking his mouth into a gallant grin, “ ’tis what I do best.”
Really, I was rolling my eyes, sighing and thinking I was reading a ballad instead of Paula Quinn's story exposition, all at the same time. And Isobel complements this with her easy banter:
“Would ye vanquish all my dragons fer me, knight?”
Seriously, I almost fell into a sugar coma, which meant, for me, the story lagged at times, but thank goodness Tristan was also humorous and had a sharp wit. Though, ultimately what saved him in my eyes was the fact that he was ruthless with a sword and at least inwardly proud of his highlander heritage.
I liked this story and although it lacked the steam and heart racing of book #1, the overall setting and mood of it grew on me until I was smiling at the end. This is a story that I read and could appreciate the writer more for subtlety rather than flare. I am going to take a break for a moment to read something more "steamy" LOL and racy, but I shall be reading more of PQ's lovely weaves, henceforth!