A Promise of Love Review
A Promise of Love is one of Karen Ranney’s older novels, originally published in 1997. Written in the historical romance genre, the backdrop is set against the Anglo-Scottish Culloden wars-a battle between Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Royal Troops of King George. The English have all but annihilated the Scottish people, leaving in their wake, a path of death, destruction and starvation.
The heroine, English woman Judith Cuthbertson, returns to her family’s home following the death of her second husband, but soon becomes the pawn in her father’s sale to a Scottish Lord. An arrogant and ruthless man, William Cuthbertson barters to exchange a flock of sheep, on the condition that his daughter is part of the deal. Clansman Malcolm Macleod, commissioned to purchase the sheep for the Laird, is confused with the transaction, but is well aware, that Judith hides a painful secret.
Upon arrival in the Highlands of Scotland at the Castle Tynan, Judith is introduced to the handsome Lord Alisdair Macleod, where upon, in a traditional but informal proclamation by Malcolm, is promptly married to the Lord, before either is aware what is happening. Disgusted with the idea of being married yet again, Judith is consoled by Alisdair’s elderly grandmother Sophie, who secretly wishes for her grandson’s happiness. But not is all that is seems on the surface. Judith hides a secret, one that she relives night after night, and a secret that her new Scottish husband, yearns to discover. Sophie, suspecting that Judith and Alisdair, would eventually work out their problems, issues a proclamation-she gives the young couple 3 months-if at the end of that time, they have not fallen in love, Judith may leave, and the marriage is dissolved.
Alisdair MacLeod is a hardworking man, a proud Lord and an even prouder Scotsman, who has watched his clan’s people slowly succumbed to death by war and starvation. The brutality of the rampaging English troops, has decimated the crops, the livestock and the people. And the last thing Alisdair Macleod, the Lord of Tynan Castle wanted or needed, was an English bride-one who apparently, was despised by his people- for being an English woman- and by her father-for existing. But Alisdair slowly realizes he is falling for the mysterious English woman, who, regardless of her treatment by his clans people, is determined to show that she too, is willing to sacrifice for the good of the Scottish people. Realization hits, and Alisdair is determined to show his people, that she is and will be, the Lady MacLeod. But, Alisdair must approach with caution-they have yet to consummate their impromptu marriage.
As the days and weeks pass, Judith sets to work to win-over the people of the clan, but not before, her worse nightmare comes true. Her second husband’s brother, Bennett Henderson, a Colonel in the English army, has come hunting- and Judith is his target. Sadistic, brutal, and calculating men, Anthony and Bennett Henderson lived to torture, and Judith is one of their many victims, but a victim that got away. Hoping to hear Judith scream for mercy, Bennett tracks his victim, and with the aid of his men, finds Judith and her only friend Meggie, alone. Meggie is brutally raped and it takes everything for Judith to escape and get help.
By now, Alisdair is well aware his young wife, holds a secret, deep in her soul, and bears the physical scars of her torture, at the hands of Bennett Henderson. When Judith confesses her past, it is not shame or pity that is revealed in her husband’s eyes, but a growing affection and pride, that she was able to survive the many abuses inflicted by her husband and brother-in-law.
Alisdair grows to love his reluctant bride, but he is unsure that Judith feels the same. But Alisdair’s grandmother sees something that neither one can see. Love. Sophie is dying, and her last request of Judith, are to hold the family secrets and jewels until her death. Upon Sophie’s death, Judith presents the Laird with his family treasures, but is taken aback when Alisdair offers her the jewels, to buy her freedom to leave Scotland and return to England with her family. Judith, so torn, believing Alisdair does not want or love her, enlists Malcom MacLeod to aid her in her return home. When Judith and Malcolm are attacked by Bennett and his men, along the roads back to England, Judith must forget her fears, and assist Malcolm in his fight against Bennett. With Bennett now dead, and an injury plagued Malcolm, Judith returns to Scotland, with the realization, that this is her home and Alisdair is the man, with whom she is in love.
A Promise of Love is a wonderful story. A tale of reluctant love between those thought to be enemies, and a HEA storyline that is sure to please. Alisdair has fallen, heart and soul for his accidental bride, and her decision to leave, will bring you to tears. You can’t help but think…..”say something, don’t let her go”. Karen’s love of everything romance in A Promise of Love, will continue to please for years to come.