|Border Moonlight is a well-written, thoughtful Scottish historical romance that offers a dynamic and interesting lead couple.
The story opens with a very young Lady Sibylla Cavers rejecting three arranged marriages at the altar in quick succession. Lady Sibylla seems independent, and strong-minded as she stands up to her father to assert her wishes to remain single.
A few years later, Sibylla is riding near the river when she hears a child’s scream. She immediately dashes over to the river and falls in, while trying to rescue two children that are being swept away. Luckily, Simon Murray, Laird of Elishaw and a couple of his men are riding nearby and hear the commotion. They ride over to help and manage to pull Sibylla and the children from the river. As they are soaked and hurt, Simon brings them all home to Elishaw to dry off and heal.
When Sibylla does get a good look at Simon, she quickly realizes that he is one of her rejected grooms. Not only that, but he is the spurned man who shouted that he would never forgive her for slighting him. As for Simon, he has already recognized Sybilla. He tries to keep his emotions at bay, but can’t help plotting a small revenge while Sybilla is under his care. So he tells her she must stay while she heals from a bump on the head and he calls for her father, Sir Malcolm, to come and collect her.
Meanwhile Sibylla and Simon spend time together under the same roof, along with Simon’s opinionated mother, Lady Murray and his outspoken younger sister Rosalie.
Simon finds that Sibylla makes him laugh and her fearless and opinionated ways enchant him. He has had to live a serious life, after his father’s passing and through his service to Fife. They fall in love as they bring out each other’s best qualities and share an honest, communicative bond.
Unfortunately for their budding romance, Elishaw has always been the neutral ground in the shaky truce between Scotland and England. Now there are rumors swirling of political unrest, and Elishaw’s position becomes even more precarious. Simon and Sibylla are caught in the midst of being forced to make decisions for Elishaw, and their future together that may end in disaster, depending on what they choose.
In Border Moonlight, both Simon and Sibylla are outstandingly detailed and complex characters. Simon is serious, hardworking, dedicated to his family and the political neutrality set forth by his ancestors. He is also deeply emotional and passionate, which he hides behind his cold façade. Sibylla is a great match for Simon; she is fiery and independent, with her own ideals and opinions. She has had practice with twisting the men in her life around her finger, but Simon won’t conform and she’s intrigued.
The love story is funny, honest and flares with both friendship and desire.
However, the reader has to search through pages and pages of historical detail to find the human love story. I found the overly detailed historical background very heavy and hard to get through. There are many characters involved in the political backstory that are either left un-introduced to the reader or swept through the pages as additional background. I had to go back and forth a few times through pages to try to remember who one character was, or how they came to be in the story, just to keep the timeline straight. The myriad of characters, and detail was frustrating when the romance between the straight-laced Simon and the strong-willed Sibylla is so much more worth focusing on.
While Border Moonlight is funny, romantic and detailed, there are some parts that are much better than others. This is a story you will want to read to find out what happens between Simon and Sibylla, but you may want to skip the heavy political unrest in between.