Dell, $5.99, ISBN 0-440-23567-7
Historical Romance, 1999
Note: this book is reviewed together with the second installment, because it makes sense to do so.
Kathleen Givens’s Kilgannon revolves around the courtship and marriage of Highland laird Alexander MacGannon of Kilgannon and Mary Lowell, an English debutante. Kilgannon describes their courtship, which is cemented after Alex saves her from an assault by his rivals. They wed, move to Kilgannon where Mary charms Alex’s two children from his previous marriage and adapt to life in the highlands. But lo, the Jacobite uprising soon sweep Scotland and the book ends with Mary weeping as Alex marches off to the sunset all set for war.
In The Wild Rose of Kilgannon, Alex is captured by the English and is tried for treason. Mary turns to her former suitor and starts a campaign to save Alex. Or a death-watch probably, as Alex’s chance of salvation gets slimmer and slimmer with the turning of the pages. Let me put on my best melodrama voice. Can love triumph?
Kilgannon is a better-than-average read, which is impressive for a debut author. When I read it, I thought the relationship was somewhat underbaked; these two people hardly know each other and they traded “I love you!” too easily and too early in the book. Never mind, I thought, perhaps their love would be tested by fire and steel in the next book, so I put that niggling doubt away. Mary’s a rather wishy-washy woman with her convictions, and Alex is rather inscrutable, thanks to the “I said this, I did this” style of writing – it’s all told by Mary to me. However, somehow I grew to care about these two people. There’s an easy charm, I must admit, of watching these two fall in love so easily and their life together. When I put down this book, it was all I can do not to start with the next book right away.
The Wild Rose of Kilgannon is where all the minor irritants began to pile up to cause a big mountain that really hindered my enjoyment. Alex was captured. Alex was rotting in the cell. It was Alex, not Mary, who was probably suffering all sorts of inner demons. Why on earth was I subjected to Mary’s constant prattling and hand-wringing and weeping? There was so much I can read about a grieving wife before my eyes began to glaze over. I could accept the long separation, but I really wished I could read something about Alex instead of Mary’s waiting in this place or that house and worrying and begging Alex to give up his cause again and again.
In this case, the usage of a single point of view really choked the story. This one is monotonous and repetitious, a pity as it is actually stronger in terms of plotting, and thus it has the potential to be the more emotionally satisfying story of the two. Too bad the execution wasn’t up to par.
Oh, and one really personal peeve with The Wild Rose of Kilgannon: whenever these two get to meet, it’s non-stop “I love you. I love you forever. I love you. I love you. I LOVE YOU!” I know, they’re grieving, and people don’t use thesauruses when they are grieving. But I can’t help it: this becomes really grating after a while.
The whole series starts out promising, but ends with a bit of a whimper.