Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Early Review of The Laird's Choice (Lairds of the Loch #1) by Amanda Scott

  • Title: The Laird's Choice (Lairds of the Loch)
  • Classification: Adult Fiction
  • Genre: Historical Romance with a hint of the supernatural
  • Format: Paperback, 400 pages
  • Publisher: Forever (December 18, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 1455514357
  • ISBN-13: 978-1455514359
Author's Website:
Notes: I read the ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) and will need to check my quotes against the finished version.

"You will admit, I think, that Tur Meiloach has a myth like reputation. Its very name means a small tower guarded by giants. Forye, tis said to be dangerous, even deadly, to trespass here. Men swear that birds and the beasts of the forest are wilder and more vicious here than elsewhere and that your bogs reach out to grab unwary strangers and drag them under. They say that your terrain is replete with rivers too wild to ford--a fact that like your birds, I saw for myself. But they also speak of deep chasms with walls that crumble at a man's touch and bury him. I've even heard that whole armies have vanished here."

Tur Meiloach is said to be a sacred safe haven to true MacFarlans. That's why nineteen years ago Andrew MacFarlan collected what little of his family he had left and fled  there. His three sons not yet of fighting age had been killed by their ruthless power hungry cousin, Pharlain, who coveted Andrew's lands and position. Now, the safe haven has been breached by four men. Three being Pharlain's men who were seeking the fourth, Magus "Mag" Galbraith. Mag had been imprisoned by Pharlain for nineteen months and forced to be a slave. Kept in chains and under constant supervision he'd only recently been afforded the opportunity to escape and he took it. Armed with information he gleaned while under incarceration, he's on a mission to warn the King about a plot he overheard to overthrow him.

Andrena, Andrew's daughter, has always been able to sense the living things around her. Almost immediately she sensed the intruders on their land. Three were chased away. The fourth, Mag, decided to accompany Andrena home to ensure her safety. She felt it was only right to warn him, "since you managed to escape from Cousin Parlan and must therefore be Parlan's enemy, I fear that Father will insist that you marry me."

Allying himself with Andrew MacFarlan and marrying his daughter wasn't part of Mag's plans, but he realized the gift that it was. What Andrew offered--land, money and position, were just what he needed.

This is the first book in a new series and I'm already looking forward to reading the next. The woman in the MacFarlan family are all gifted with out of the ordinary skills and/or senses, but it is Andrena (aka Dree) who has some of the most remarkable of gifts. She can usually determine if a person is lying because she can sense their emotions. She also has an extrasensory gift which allows her to sense the presence of living things around her and can tell whether there is any danger associated with them. She also shares a connection with animals (at least those at Tur Meiloch) and they, as well as her sisters, can sense her emotions. Her talents are hard to explain as she herself truly doesn't fully understand how they work. When Andrew first insists Dree accompany Mag on his mission to warn the king, he sees Dree as a hindrance. Slowly, as Dree's abilities are revealed and Mag comes to believe in them, he sees her for what she truly is--an asset.

Mag Galbraith has been through a lot. Nineteen months ago he was captured by Pharlain and his men. His older brother, Will, had died that day. Mag bore the weight of his death on his shoulders, as he was the one to convince Will not to stand with Pharlain, and that is what led to them being attacked. Their father had not been pleased with Will's change of mind, for he feared that decision would cost Will his life, and in a fit of anger, he renounced Mag as his son. Because of the renouncement, Andrew's stipulation that Mag take the MacFarlan name as his own when he married Dree, didn't bother him. If anything, it made the marriage more desirable, for not only would he gain wealth and land, he'd once  again have a place he belonged.

While the two found each other attractive and neither objected to the marriage, this did not start off as an instant love match. They start out as virtual strangers but gradually gain each other's respect and love. I liked seeing the feelings grow between the couple and the glimpses of insecurity each displayed as to what the other's feelings were at varying times. I liked that you could see how Mag cared about Dree, but at times truly didn't know how to handle her. She wasn't like any woman he'd ever met and that both intrigued and mystified him. I also loved how Mag was the only person whose emotions Dree couldn't read and that unnerved her because he was the one whose feelings she most wanted to know.

Overall, I gave this one 4 out of 5 roses. I loved Ms. Scott's writing style and the way the story is woven around historical events of the time. She masterfully creates an environment that allows the reader to easily imagine they've stepped back in time and to another place. I enjoyed the supernatural abilities the MacFarlan women possessed and hope the series will include romances for both Muriella and Lachina, Andrena's sisters. I would love to learn more about each of them and see if they also possess some abilities we have yet to hear about. This was a lovely beginning to a new series. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one gets a FAN rating--the temperature in the room seems to have suddenly gone up a couple of degrees and a fan would be nice.

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