Title: Bride of the MacHugh
Author: Jan Cox Speas
Published: 1954, Avon
Category: Historical Fiction
Getting book recommendations from people can be really hit-or-miss -- a person's taste in books is so personal, that if you don't know the person very well, you can find yourself buying a book that may light their fire but does absolutely nothing for you. One of the places that I have found some of the best (and consistently good) recommendations is by finding out what books are some of my favorite authors' favorites. I love to find authors answering the question, "Who are your favorite authors?" Bride of the MacHugh is a favorite of author Susanna Kearsley, whose books I discovered recently and have really enjoyed.
I loved this book and I wanted to do a really good review of it, but then life intruded and now it's been about a month since I read it. *sigh* So I'm going to do a synopsis, but it's going to be a bit vague because some of the details have already floated away from me. But I refuse to post the cover blurb that's on the back of my edition because it is melodramatic idiocy. "Her love was rebellion against family and rank, and his was a sword made reckless by desire!" (In gold foil, too! Wow.) It gives you a completely wrong impression of the book. Anyway...
Elspeth Lamond is Scottish by birth but has been raised in London as a ward of King James. As her mother lies dying, she makes Elspeth promise to go to Scotland and meet her father, Robert Lamond. She travels there under the protection of her kinsman the Earl of Argyll, a powerful Scot who has strong ties to the king. But she is soon kidnapped by Alexander MacHugh, The MacHugh (chief of the MacHugh clan). Some complicated political scheming goes on (here's where I'm forgetting), but basically, Argyl has arranged a marriage for Elspeth with a rich Englishman, a marriage that will bring him the connections and gold he needs to amass even greater power in Scotland. Elspeth has no real power to object, but she has found in Alexander a man whose fiery temper matches her own. But what sort of dangers would they run if they defied Argyll and the English king?
This is great historical fiction -- it really captures the feeling of a different age and incorporates all the interesting historical details without feeling clunky. All the characters are fabulous; Alexander is the powerful and fiery Scot, whose domineering ways could have been irritating if Elspeth hadn't been perfectly able to stand up for herself. Her passion and intelligence matches his, so it's wonderful to see the two of them fight their way to love. :)