Avon, $6.99, ISBN 0-06-009296-3
Historical Romance, 2003
Lyssa Harrell is not having a good day. She’s run away from an arranged marriage arranged by her beloved daddy so that she can return to what she is sure to be the welcoming arms of her late mother’s Scottish relatives. But it turns out that the Gypsy folks she is traveling with are actually English conmen, an annoying – if rugged and built – Ian Campion is sent by her father to bring her back, and worse, there are men out to kill her. This Scottish heiress’s big adventure is going downhill fast.
Slightly reminiscent of this author’s Falling in Love Again in that the story has two persons at odds having to travel together and their adventures bring them closer than close, Adventures of a Scottish Heiress is an enjoyable read.
Cathy Maxwell is always a good author in that she can often take a familiar premise and twist things to make the story entirely her own, but often her stories suffer from the heroine suffering from a terminal case of stupidity. In this one, however, the heroine’s coming to terms with herself and – gasp – growing up – make me forgive her antics. Lyssa starts out a twenty-three year old nitwit going on ten and she hates her stepmother for stealing her from her dearest daddy. Spoiled, annoying, and begging for a spanking, our heroine is the kind of woman who has the temerity to tell a poverty-stricken Irishman that he has no idea what it is like to be rich and yet be an outcast in Society because her father is trade, boo-hoo! But by the end of the book, she has truly matured as a person, she realizes what a childish twit she was, and she even realizes that she has treated her stepmother very unfairly. Her coming to terms with herself is nicely done, if a little too heavy-handedly at times. I like this.
Ian is an appealing hero in that while he is financially strapped and is always aware of his responsibilities to his family (he wants to bring his siblings to America to find a better life there), he is also never cruel or impatient with the heroine. I suspect his having annoying younger sisters may have something to do with this, but nonetheless, I also like his sense of humor and protective instincts. I also like that while he is aware of the class gulf separating he and Lyssa, he still fights for a chance at Lyssa’s heart like he fights for everything else in his life. There is no “I will walk away after I’ve slept with her” nonsense here. Here’s a hero who fights for his love. A novelty in the romance genre, don’t you think?
This book comes close to being a keeper, but there are several minor problems that nagged at me. I don’t like how the author uses some predictable plot devices to cut corners when it comes to Lyssa’s character development. Also, as Lyssa grows as a person, Ian’s character development seems stuck at square one. There’s a brief mention of his fierce Irish patriotism that has him on the run from the law, but this matter is dropped as soon as it is brought up. Ian is an appealing hero, but he’s the same person as he was at the start of the book. Of course, he doesn’t need to change that much, but with Lyssa really growing as a person, it’s a disappointment nonetheless to see that the hero can’t catch up.
Still, all these are minor problems that may be exclusive only to me. I do believe that this is the author’s best book so far. While her previous books feature some unbelievably clueless heroines growing up either too late or never at all, she gets it right here. The romance is wonderful, the pace is perfect, and the balance of adventures, humors, and emotional growth are just right, making Adventures of a Scottish Heiress a fine road trip romantic escapade of a book.