Title: My Lord Monleigh
Author: Jan Cox Speas
Published: 1956, Avon
Category: Historical Romance
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I've been meaning to read this book since I read Speas' Bride of the MacHugh and loved it. I needed a guaranteed good read for the longest plane ride ever (okay, not really, but the longest plane ride I've ever been on), so I finally got around to it.
My Lord Monleigh is set in Scotland during the mid-17th century. My English history is a bit shaky, but this is the time when Cromwell was in control of the government and radical puritanism was the order of the day. Anne Lindsey is a poor relation who is forced to live with Margaret Clennon and her brother Walter, a pair of withered and strait-laced religious zealots. Anne is in the unenviable position of being almost a servant, forced to cater to petulant Margaret's every demand. One day she escapes and wanders into the Scottish countryside and meets Simon, the earl of Monleigh. Simon is notoriously wicked--he's a royalist, he plays the lute, he (gasp!) knows how to have a good time. Anne has been forced by her hard life to take her security where she can get it, but now she's tempted to throw her lot in with this rebel.
This was lovely. Very good historical detail and a very mature love story. Anne and Simon have a lot of fantastic dialogue--really smart and at times very funny. Anne is no young miss, discovering that love solves all her problems. Realistically, it changes her outlook on life, but at the same time disrupts her precariously peaceful existence. She must make some tough decisions, and she makes them all on her own.
The ending is just great. The first chapter is Anne finding out that Monleigh has been sentenced to hang for treason, and the majority of the rest of the book is done in a flashback. So there's lots of star-crossed lovers, how-is-it-going-to-work-out tension throughout the book. I loved the way it all came out in the end.