Bestselling author Jane Bonander enchants readers the world over with her heartfelt historical romances set in Scotland and perfect for the readership of Monica McCarty and Julie Garwood.
Duncan MacNeil voyages over the sea to make his fortune in America. Shortly before his departure, he has a single tryst near the village fair with lovely Isobel Dunbar. Their romp leads to a pregnancy, and while he is across the ocean, Isobel gives birth to a spirited boy she names Ian. To protect her reputation and to prevent Duncan’s wealthy family from taking Ian away from her, Isobel concocts a story that her neighbors believe—she claims Ian’s father married her and then died in a shipwreck, leaving her a poor widow. The truth, she hopes, will never be discovered, and her son will never meet his father.
When Duncan returns, weary of the New World and ready to take charge of his family’s business, his first plan is to buy a run-down former brothel and convert it to a cannery. Only this is where Isobel now calls home. He can’t understand why she refuses to sell, and he certainly cannot understand why she harbors such resentment towards him. Then he realizes who this beautiful woman once was to him. Can Duncan grow from an irresponsible boy into a man who takes responsibility for his past carelessness? And can Isobel ever trust this stranger, when keeping Ian’s parentage a secret is the only way she knows to keep her beloved son close?
Bonander's second MacNeil Legacy historical (after The Pleasure of the Rose), set in 1850s Scotland, outshines the first with smooth plotting and appealing characters. Duncan MacNeil returns home to the island of Hedabarr and learns that he fathered a son with Isobel Dunbar during their single sexual encounter nine years prior. Duncan is the only man Isobel has ever been intimate with, and the hurt of being abandoned immediately after she'd given him her virginity comes back to the surface the moment she sees him again. In order to protect her son, she's fabricated a story of being a widow, and she sends her son to school on the mainland to prevent anyone from recognizing the MacNeil resemblance. However, that story unravels when Duncan learns of the truth and demands to be a part of his son's life. They both agree marriage is the best solution; however, Isobel whose uses cynicism as a defense mechanism fears falling in love with Duncan, whom she doubts has any romantic feelings for her despite his caring and attentive behavior. Bonander addresses some unanswered questions from the first novel, smoothly tying the stories together. New characters are refreshing additions to the already charming ensemble, and the introduction of another potential love match is a nice setup for the next book in the series.