Monday, March 7, 2016

Review: An American in Scotland by Karen Ranney

An American in Scotland 
by Karen Ranney
Series:  MacIain #3
Pub. Date:  Feb. 23, 2016
Publisher:  Avon
Pages:  384
Format:  eARC
Source:  Edelweiss

My Rating:  
Sultry Scale:

New York Times bestselling author Karen Ranney returns with the third heart-stirring novel in her latest series, a tale of deceit, desperate measures, and delirious desire.

Rose MacIain is a beautiful woman with a secret. Desperate and at her wits' end, she crafts a fake identity for herself, one that Duncan MacIain will be unable to resist. But she doesn't realize that posing as the widow of the handsome Scotsman's cousin is more dangerous than she knew. And when a simmering attraction rises up between them, she begins to regret the whole charade.

Duncan is determined to resist the tempting Rose, no matter how much he admires her arresting beauty and headstrong spirit. When he agrees to accompany her on her quest, their desire for each other only burns hotter. The journey tests his resolve as their close quarters fuel the fire that crackles between them. 

When the truth comes to light, these two stubborn people must put away their pride and along the way discover that their dreams of love are all they need.

This is the third book in the MacIain series, which focuses on descendants of Highlanders in the latter half of the 19th Century. Once the MacIains fled Scotland after the Rising, the three brothers scattered to England, America and Glasgow. While Scotsman of My Dreams featured the English branch of the family, An American in Scotland focuses on the Glasgow and American branches. While there is some character crossover in each book, you won't be lost if you haven't read the earlier books.

Duncan MacIain is a mill owner in Glasgow, but the American Civil War has nearly bankrupted him due to the shortage of cotton coming out of the South. The need for cotton to support his people leaves Duncan conflicted as he abhors slavery, and does not look favorable on the self-absorbed grandiose Bruce MacIain, who owns a plantation in Charleston. Trying to keep the mill afloat has taken all of Duncan's attention, so he has not given any thought to marriage or a family. Duncan was a beta male, an honorable and soft-spoken caretaker of his family and tenements. There were no whispers of rakish or rogueish behavior... he even quietly slipped to Edinburgh on occasion when he needed to take care of his manly needs. I liked Duncan and was cheering for him, but I didn't have a grand passion where he was concerned.

The MacIains are surprised when a fiery-haired American woman shows up at their door in widows weeds offering to sell the very cotton that Bruce MacIain had refused to sell his Scottish cousin. After Bruce went off to fight for the Confederacy, leaving his family to fend for itself, Rose took over the running of the plantation. As an abolitionist, she has always clashed with Bruce and the southern way of life. But she shows up in Scotland desperate to sell the last cotton harvest and keep the rest of the family (her sister and niece and remaining slaves) from starving. Only to sell the cotton, Rose thinks she has to pose as Bruce's widow and she keeps up the charade for a good portion of the book. The whole deception made me disinclined to like Rose. She had many opportunities to come clean and every time she let it pass I thought less of her. However, once all was revealed and I learned Rose's tortured story, it eased my antipathy for her. The story picked up after that.

Obviously writing a historical set during the time of slavery is difficult - there are many social and moral issues to navigate, but you also want to stay true to the time period. I think Karen Ranney did a good job with those parts of the story. She didn't gloss over the atrocities of the time, but I think Rose's ideals and abolitionist activities provided a nice counterbalance. The story did drag for me in the first half, but the pace picked up once Rose's deception was revealed and I enjoyed the rest of the story.

I received an advanced copy of this book from Avon via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. 

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About the Author

USA Today and New York Times bestselling author, Karen Ranney began writing when she was five. Her first published work was The Maple Leaf, read over the school intercom when she was in the first grade. In addition to wanting to be a violinist (her parents had a special violin crafted for her when she was seven), she wanted to be a lawyer, a teacher, and, most of all, a writer. Though the violin was discarded early, she still admits to a fascination with the law, and she volunteers as a teacher whenever needed. Writing, however, has remained the overwhelming love of her life.

Author Links:  Website | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads



My darling sons,

When you each came into the world, I marveled at the miracle that created you. I held you in my arms and knew I would cherish you until the breath left my body.
Now I must bid farewell to all three of you at once.
The Almighty has indeed challenged me this day.
I know you go on a great adventure and do so with eagerness and enthusiasm. The Highlands offer less opportunity to you of late. I know this and mourn the circumstances of your leaving even as I know you will do honor to the MacIain name.
When someone asks me about my sons, I’ll speak proudly of you. My eldest son, I’ll say, remained in Scotland, a few days’ journey away. But one of my sons traveled to England to make peace with the conqueror, while the other set sail for America.
You will have children of your own, each of them carrying the MacIain blood and name. Tell them about our history, how we dreamed of an empire. Tell them about the place from which we came, a corner of Scotland known for its men of greatness and nobility.
Mention your mother, if you will, who bravely relinquished her sons to the future.
The Almighty has not given us the power of foresight, but I cannot help but think years from now, your children and your children’s children will be proud MacIains, as formidable as their ancestors
Love sometimes means sacrifice, and I feel that truly on this day. I sacrifice you to honor, to your heritage, and to a future only you can create. Go with God, my darling sons. May your dreams be realized and may He always protect you.
Anne Summers MacIain
June, 1746

MacIain Series