This is the sequel to The Secret, and the hero of this book is the rough, tough and growly Brodick, featured heavily in that book. Don’t you just love a good growly hero?
Gillian the heroine is also a strong, capable, (are you starting to see a pattern in Garwood’s heroines?) and wily heroine, and there is a delightful friendship between her and another woman, which as I have previously mentioned, is an aspect I enjoy in my reading. But really? I have to be honest, Brodick is who makes this story for me. He’s such a delightfully crotchety and recalcitrant hero that I could just eat him up with a spoon. Also, the plot is much more exciting than the previous story.
This particular story is unique in that there are actually a couple of different mysteries to be solved, and you can definitely see in this story how Garwood was starting to transition to romantic suspense. Ransom was published December 1999 and then one month later, as far as I can tell, is when her first romantic suspense was published. And she’s only published one more historical since she started writing romantic suspense, the conclusion of this series, which neatly ties in to the contemporary romantic suspense series. There are actually a few Easter eggs for fans of her historicals in her current series.
There are also two romances going on here, which some people find the second a bit tacked on, but I appreciated the foil the two heroes provide for each other. The secondary hero, Ramsey, is a beautiful and much harried by women character. He is the obviously kind and compassionate to Brodick’s gruff, tough, and unrelenting. And the two are best friends, though they wouldn’t talk about their relationship like that. However, Brodick seems to be the more astute in understanding human nature, albeit perhaps only slightly. Ramsey is a very stupid man 😉
The crux of the story is that Gillian is on a mission to go into the highlands to find her missing sister and a box belonging to the king of England. There is a mystery tied to the box and the villain of the story, Baron Alford, needs to obtain it in order to cover his crimes, and is holding Gillian’s uncle hostage to ensure her cooperation. Meanwhile, Laird Ramsey is having unrest in his own clan as he attempts to merge a smaller, leaderless clan into his own (at their request), and a young boy has been stolen and brought to Baron Alford for nefarious purposes. So, Gillian decides to rescue the boy, bring him back to his family, find the treasure, and rescue her uncle. Fortunately for her, the child she rescues has Brodick for a protector.
And that is not even the half of it. Writing it out like that makes it seem preposterous and ridiculous, but let me tell you, somehow it all seems very reasonable while you are reading. The banter though, that does tend toward the comically ridiculous, but in a good way. It is funny, not laugh out loud funny, more giggling funny, but funny nonetheless.
Evil doers get their comeuppance, good guys win, true love prevails-even for the curmudgeonly, and all that jazz. This is a happy, fun book that that isn’t just about the two protagonists. It is another one that makes my comfort reads.