Connie Brockway sweeps readers back to the rough beauty of Regency-era Scotland and into the scintillating, passionate, and surprising love story of a mysterious Highlander and the woman he is pledged to protect.
Desperate to keep her two sisters and herself from the poorhouse, Kate Nash Blackburn embarks upon a journey to northern Scotland, where she hopes to gain the gratitude and patronage of a wealthy marquis. When fate maroons her at a tavern full of ruffians, a brawny Highland soldier comes to her rescue. It's Kit MacNeill, the man whose pledge to her family has haunted her for years. When he offers to escort Kate through the treacherous Highlands to Castle Parnell, she accepts even though her instincts warn her against trusting this rough and dangerous man. But soon Kate is startled by the Highlander's cultured speech and courtly manners. Who is this man of contradictions, shaped by a shadowy past, who fiercely wards off an attempt on her life, whose broad shoulders beckon her touch, and in whose arms she comes fully alive?
The first volume in Brockway's new Rose Hunters trilogy, set in the early 19th century, spotlights Christian "Kit" MacNeill, a Scottish warrior of uncertain parentage who was trained in both the martial arts and the art of caring for roses. Kit meets Kate Blackburn when he and his two companions come to offer her family a pledge of service. The men feel obligated to Kate's father, who died rescuing them from a French prison, but Kate insists she has no need of a "hero." Three years later, when Kate is stranded en route to Scotland, MacNeill mysteriously appears to fulfill his oath. As the two make the difficult trek to Castle Parnell, where Kate hopes to appeal to a relative for financial support, the attraction between them simmers, but Kit remains keenly aware of his lower stature and his inability to provide Kate with a comfortable life. The one thing he can offer her is protection, which she discovers she needs when they reach Castle Parnell and find it seething with sinister plots involving murder and betrayal. Brockway (Bridal Favors, etc.) vividly describes the beauty of the Scottish landscape, establishing a strong sense of place. Although she tends to overstate Kit's masculinity, her dynamic characters and her ability to pull readers into the story through sensory details make this a well-crafted, engaging read.