Because of You

The Lady is Tempted

Married in Haste

The Marriage Contract

A Scandalous Marriage

Tea for Two

The Wedding Wager

When Dreams Come True

 
Adventures of a Scottish Heiress
by Cathy Maxwell
(Avon, $6.99, PG) ISBN 0-06-009296-3
***
Cathy Maxwell is solid as ever, although there is one part I wish she had edited out. Adventures of a Scottish Heiress is a good story with a predictable but enjoyable romance.

Lyssa Harrell is the daughter of a Scotsman known as Pirate Harrell, who has become a successful tradesman. He marries following the death of his first wife, choosing a duchess to gain access into London society. Lyssa, at 23, is old to enter into this society but she does and immediately feels that she is looked down upon. Nevertheless, a betrothal to Lord Grossett is forthcoming. Lyssa chooses to ignore her fatherís wishes and she runs away. She is determined to reach Scotland, meet her motherís family and find a life of her own.

Ian Campion, hired by the Pirate to find his daughter, finds her in a Gypsy camp, or at least a camp full of people who make Lyssa think they are gypsies. Ian is determined to get Lyssa back to London in order to collect his money. He needs this money to buy passage to Maryland for himself, his two widowed sisters and their children. Ian is an Irishman in an England that doesnít tolerate the Irish, particularly one who has been in political hot water for his beliefs.

Ian starts to take Lyssa away, only to be attacked by brigands who appear to be out to kill Lyssa. They escape and determine the safest way to London is the long way - via Scotland. They arrive at the estate of Lyssaís mother only to discover more intrigue. But the journey to get there is a chance for Lyssa and Ian to learn about each other and for Lyssa to grow up. They fall in love, and decide to try to make a life once they confront Lyssaís father.

Ian is a good hero, one the reader can easily like and identify with his yearning to become a more successful man. Lyssa is more difficult to like, as she has been spoiled her whole life and feels the world owes her something because she grew up without a mother and now has a stepmother usurping her place.

Ian, thankfully, sees through this and tries to teach Lyssa about life. Lyssa is a quick study and slowly changes as she views things. This is a strong point to the story.

The weak point is the intrigue and the murder plot. It is far-fetched and contrived - obviously only in the story to give Ian and Lyssa a reason to spend plenty of time together. I am glad they had the time, but wish the reason could have been more plausible. Another slight distraction is some of the semantics - Lyssa may be Scottish by heritage, but she is actually English, having been born and raised entirely in England. She is pretty spoiled at the beginning, so one has to believe change is possible for her transformation to be realistic. And the villains are really bad guys, somewhat stereotypical.

The ending is satisfying, however, and it is nice to see characters stay true to form. Loyalty and trust are key ingredients to this love affair, and those characteristics shine through in the end.

Spend a little time with this tale if you can overlook a weak mystery, ignore a few inconsistencies and can seek out the good romance in the Adventures of a Scottish Heiress.

--Shirley Lyons


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