Christina and Lauren, along with Sir Alfred Cheney, are waiting at Hampstead Heath for the men to come from Robert Bruce, King of Scotland, to collect their tribute. Christina's brother Steven, Lord of Hampstead Heath, should be the one dealing with this. Unfortunately, Steven has been imprisoned and is being held as a "guest" by Rowan DeClabert at his stronghold Thistle-on-Downs by order of the King, Edward II. Christina has come up with a plan to imprison the Scots and turn them over to the King. She is hoping this will bring about the release of her brother. Naturally, the plan backfires. Sir James, in charge of the Scots, orders that all the goods be seized. Hampstead Heath is famous for their horses. He takes quite a few horses and a lot of the cattle. Christina begs to be taken as a hostage. Sir James doesn't want any hostages, but finally gives in to Christina and decides to take her and Lauren as hostages. Lauren is Steven's fiancée'. Christina also begs that Sir James takes Sir Alfred as well. She is afraid that he will suffer the wrath of the King if he is left behind. Sir James reluctantly agrees. Now he's saddled with three hostages when he didn't want any.
They leave to go to Langley, the family stronghold of Sir James. His relative, Sir Eric, holds Langley for Robert Bruce. Christina is kept separated from Lauren and Sir Alfred during the trip. Eventually, Christina gives in to her attraction for Jamie. When they finally get to Langley, Christina is again kept separated from Lauren and Sir Alfred. She is given a tower room and is kept under guard. Jamie comes to her room every night that he is there. He is still under service to the King and leaves quite often. Robert Bruce is slowly getting all of the land he can in Scotland under Scottish control. Robert Bruce has given the final disposition of the hostages to Jamie. Jamie is already in negotiations with Lauren's father, who is a very powerful French Count, for the release of her and Sir Alfred. Sir Rowan DeClabert is trying to gain the release of Christina. Steven is still a prisoner and Christina tries to do whatever she can to gain his release.
This is a wonderfully written romance during the time period immediately following the death of Edward I of England and when Robert Bruce has been accepted as the King of Scotland. I would have read this book based on that fact alone. I find the Scottish struggle for independence very moving. This story takes place following the death of William Wallace, one of my favorite heroes, when Robert Bruce has taken hold of the reins of leadership for the Scots. The Scots are still traumatized by the brutality of the English and most of the remaining people have undergone one tragedy or another. This story is full of such stories, right down to Robert Bruce's wife and daughter being held as hostages. Robert Bruce is still merciful. He has a policy of not killing anyone that surrenders and insists that all his men follow it. This story does contain battles between the English and the Scots. It goes into how Robert Bruce managed to get the city of Perth back under Scottish control. This is also a wonderful romance. Jamie lost his wife to the English. They chained her to a stairwell and then burned the house down around her. He must learn to deal with this loss. Meanwhile, Christina doesn't feel that anyone else is capable of obtaining her brother's release. She gets into all kinds of trouble with this and must learn to trust others to help her as well.
This is definitely a book that I heartily recommend to all lovers of medieval romance with an interest in the Scottish people.
Chere Gruver, March 2003
Order a Copy
REVIEWS MAIN PAGE