|Dreams of Destiny is the third and final book in the “Scottish Dream” trilogy. Readers should be warned that this book does not do well as a stand alone. Many of the relationships and situations found within the covers of this volume had their beginnings in one of the other two books in this series.
Gwenyth Douglas was raised by her aunt and uncle after her parents died. Her uncle later died and left most of his estate to Gwen - not to his daughter, Emma, or his wife, Augusta. This odd bequest is a mystery in the story that unfolds slowly and is eventually revealed. One stipulation of the will is that Gwen inherits upon marriage and only if she does not fall victim to scandal prior to that. But, Gwen’s in trouble. . .
Gwen is writing scandalous pirate adventures that are being published anonymously. Someone is blackmailing her and threatening to reveal her as the author of these stories unless she pays a large sum of money. She pleads to Sir Allan Ardmore, a long-time friend of the family, to do her a favor and marry her immediately so that she won’t lose her inheritance to this potential scandal. Sir Allan is a penniless baronet and would do well to marry Gwen, so he agrees. Gwen also intends to use her inheritance to pay the blackmailer off. Gwen’s aunt, Augusta, did not give her consent for Gwen to marry Sir Allan, so they are forced to elope. But, since the Marriage Act became law, it has become difficult to elope. The only way they can do this is to travel to Gretna Green where a blacksmith is known for marrying eloping couples.
Captain David Pennington, brother to the Earl of Aytoun and long-time neighbor and friend to Gwen‘s family, intercepts Gwen on her way to meet Sir Allan in Gretna Green. David refuses to allow Gwen to marry under such conditions and with someone her aunt did not approve of. He even threatens to kill “the scoundrel” when they find him. David and Gwen travel together to Gretna Green.
During their travels Gwen makes several failed attempts to escape David’s company and he starts keeping a very close watch on her. They even share a room during the nights. David finds himself attracted to Gwen and decides that he would like to marry her himself. Gwen has been infatuated with him since she was a child, but David was in love with Emma before Emma married his older brother, the Earl. She later met her death under mysterious circumstances, but Gwen is convinced David is still in love with Emma and refuses to allow herself to fall in love with him. David has also made it clear that he thinks the idea of Gwen writing the pirate stories is not appropriate for a woman of her station in life, which upsets her very much because she’s been writing her entire life. In fact, she continues to write every day. Gwen is still intent on marrying Sir Allan.
The entire business of David taking up the cause of making sure Gwen doesn’t elope is difficult to believe. David recently left his commission as Captain in the military and hasn’t seen his family in over a year. Instead of going home to his mother and family, he goes gallivanting off with Gwen for quite some time. They eventually end up back at home where the family saga continues and David keeps trying to convince Gwen to marry him instead of Sir Allan. But at this point there are so many subplots that the reader easily forgets about Sir Allan and the blackmailer until they’re brought back into the story much later.
There is a mystery to be solved among the pages of this book, which makes the read intriguing. The story of one secondary character, William Truscott, is told in part in italics at the end of each chapter. The end of that story coincides with the solution to the mystery of who killed Emma. In the beginning, this double-story is hard to understand and follow.
Anyone who has not read the previous two volumes in this series will be confused and unfamiliar with many characters whose stories have already been told. One character, Violet, had her beginnings in an older McGoldrick book, The Promise, outside the “Scottish Dream” trilogy. Perhaps a reader who has been loyal to the historical romances written by May McGoldrick would enjoy Dreams of Destiny more than I did.