The woman who opened the door was a matronly sort, dressed in a somber blue that nevertheless was a pleasant color for her complexion. Her smile was an easy one, as if she had long practice at being pleasant.
“May I help you?” she asked. “If you’re a friend of the missus, she’s dining with her family now. Like as not it’ll go on for a few hours. Do you need to see her?”
The smell of food wafted out of the house. Rose was so hungry she could define each separate scent: fish stew, freshly baked rolls, roast beef, and something that smelled like fruit cake.
Her stomach growled, as if she needed reminding she hadn’t eaten a real meal in two days.
“Mr. MacIain,” she said, pushing aside both her hunger and her fatigue. “Is he here? I need to see him.”
“You’ve business with Mr. Duncan? Well, he mostly transacts his business at the mill, miss. Wouldn’t it be better to call on him there?”
She didn’t know where the MacIain Mill was. She’d taken his home address from the letters he’d written Bruce.
“I’ve come from America,” she began, and had no more said those words than she was dragged into the house by her sleeve.
“Well, why didn’t you say so from the very first? From America? All that way? And here I let you stand on the doorstep. Is that your valise? And your carriage? We’ll take care of both right away.”
The woman, matronly only a moment ago, had turned into a whirlwind.
Rose found herself being led through the house, following the scent of food until she thought her stomach would cramp. In moments she found herself standing in the doorway of a small dining room.
Dozens of people, it seemed from her first glance, were seated at the table, all of them attractive and well dressed. Some of them were smiling as they looked up.
“Duncan? This lady came all the way from America to see you.”
She couldn’t think for the hunger. She couldn’t even speak.
A man stood, and she thought that hunger must surely have made her hallucinate. Tall, brown-haired, with the most beautiful blue eyes she’d ever seen. He smiled so sweetly at her, so perfectly handsome and kind, that she wondered if he was real.
He was broad-shouldered, with a face that no doubt captured the attention of women on the street. They’d stop to marvel at that strong jaw, that mouth that looked as if it could be curved into a smile or just as easily thinned in derision.
She hadn’t expected him to be so arresting a figure. No doubt that’s why she wavered a little on her feet.
“Yes?” he said, coming around the table toward her.
“Mr. MacIain? Duncan MacIain?”
He regarded her with a direct stare so forceful she felt as if her will were being drawn out of her with that glance.
She reached out one gloved hand toward him. Suddenly everything changed. The air around her grayed. The floor rushed up to greet her instead of him. Yet he somehow caught her when she fell. As he did so, she had the strangest thought, one that troubled her even as darkness enveloped her.
This was why she’d come all this way.
I really enjoyed An American in Scotland, book three in the MacIain series–though it probably should have read An American in Scotland…and in the Bahamas… then back in the Confederate States of America, and then Scotland again, to be technical about it. Whereas we saw the hero of book two (Dalton of Scotsman of My Dreams ) after he gets back from fighting in the American Civil War, Duncan and Rose run the blockade along the southern Atlantic coast in order to sneak back into the South while the fighting is still going on. No actual fighting happens in their vacinity, but there’s a good amount of tension while they’re in international waters, since the Union knows of and would like to take control of their ship (built by the hero of book one, Lennox in In Your Wildest Scottish Dreams , so you know it’s got to be a good one).
Running the blockade was only a part of the action, though–the main tension came when Rose and Duncan arrived back at her brother-in-law’s plantation, where Rose, a fervent abolitionist, had lived for the past two years. Talk about a miserable human being–just thinking about Bruce even now makes me get all squinty-eyed. Clearly, something went very wrong somewhere with the American branch of the MacIains.
I liked this story for its unique storyline (blockade running! Abolitionists! Evil brother-in-law married to a heartless sister!) and locations, but it’s the characters that really sealed the deal for me. I loved both Rose and Duncan, separately and as a couple. It did seem like there was more focus on the get the cotton to save the mill/confront Rose’s past aspect of the story than the romance, but I was okay with that. Their romance was still very sweet, with just a small bit of steam to keep things interesting. Obviously the two of them were meant to be together, and it was honestly nice not to have the huge “relationship black moment” to deal with (there’s a smallish one earlier on, when Duncan finds out what’s she’s been hiding all this time, but it’s resolved quickly). I enjoyed having the drama focus elsewhere, letting them work together to try to fix things for both of their families.
Though it’s the third in the series, I think this one would work fine as a standalone. I’ve only read book two so far, (but downloaded number one as I wrote this review, because I must read the whole series, obvs) but wasn’t at all lost as I read this one. I’m sure someone could start with this one with no problem, if they needed to.
Rating: 4 stars / A-
I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.