Abducted Heiress

Border Moonlight

Dangerous Lady

Hidden Heiress

Highland Treasure

Lady’s Choice

Lord of the Isles

  

 
Tamed by a Laird by Amanda Scott
(Forever, $6.99, PG-13) ISBN 98-0446-54137-4
****
Despite the title, the heroine is never tamed and in fact, actually tames the Laird. Filled with a feisty heroine, a strong hero, a band of minstrels, a little intrigue and historical presence, Tamed by A Laird is well worth your time.

Jenny Easdale is a baroness in her own right, despite the way her guardian and uncle treats her. Orphaned and forced to live in her uncle’s home, she is treated as part of the family, yet her aunt laments that she is not more feminine and her uncle never acknowledges her spirit or her brains. The story opens as she is betrothed to her aunt’s younger brother Reid. Hugh Thornhill is the eldest and he too is there to celebrate the betrothal. But Jenny (called Janet by her aunt) wants a little adventure. Reid seems to be a man who is controlling and Jenny is certain that once married, he will treat her with little respect. The morning after the betrothal ceremony, Jenny leaps at the sudden chance to travel with a band of minstrels, who performed at the keep. One is a brother to her maid, Peg, and the two sneak off.

As it happens, Jenny has a lovely singing voice and can play the lute as well. Soon she is performing to loud cheers. She is lovely and has a kind heart, which the minstrels are drawn to.  No one knows her title and assume she is Peg’s cousin. The reader gets to see life on the road with a band of entertainers in the fourteenth century. We meet the two fools, Gawkus and Gilly, several woman singers and actors, Cath and Gerda and the leader of the group known as the Joculator.

Meanwhile, back at the castle Annan, her uncle, decides to send Hugh after Jenny. Reid is too much of a hothead and Hugh is more powerful with more experience. It is hoped he can find her and return her before scandal erupts. Hugh, a widower, is the Laird of Thornhill, an estate not far away. But he sees the wisdom in keeping the issue low key and sets off after her with his man, Lucas. They catch up to the band and after a series of incidents; decide to travel with them while trying to convince Jenny to return without causing a scene. They travel incognito, with none suspecting that “Hugo” is actually a powerful man. Hugo even sings duets with Jenny and during the love songs, it appears they are quite taken with each other. To help, the band tricks them into marrying. Now Hugh and Jenny are wed, but where does that leave Reid and the betrothal?

The characters come alive and since we see things from many perspectives, it is an engaging story. Jenny can be sassy, yet she is naïve and is always surprised when things don’t go her way.  Hugh is a fearsome man, yet has a gentle side. He is drawn to Jenny and despite the fact that she can bring him to anger quickly, he finds he also respects her wit, her brain and her understanding of the consequences of her actions. Since he could be a brute and force her return, he is easy to like when he tries to get Jenny to return with him of her own accord instead.

The intrigue was a little weak, with the main mystery being who is stealing jewels at the homes of the places where the minstrels have been. It clearly involved Englishmen, but the how and who and why took a long time to develop. Luckily Jenny and Hugh cat and mouse game with each other moved along nicely.  Theirs is a romance that is slow to develop and yet is based on much more than lust. The sexual tension is there, but very low key.

Tamed by a Laird is both a simple romance and a complex tale with lots of characters and many possible scenarios to play out. It is the start of a new trilogy but it is clearly a story that stands on its own, and a good one at that. 

--Shirley Lyons


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