Avon, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-06-224246-4
Historical Romance, 2014
Despite following The Devil of Clan Sinclair, The Witch of Clan Sinclair stands alone pretty well. The plot is self contained, and characters from the previous book show up without taking over or disrupting the story. Having successfully balanced the need of making this book a part of a series and letting it be a book in its own right, the author isn’t so successful in juggling the romance and the rest of the plot, unfortunately.
Mairi Sinclair has been running her late father’s newspaper the Edinburgh Gazette and she has done what her father failed to do: improve circulation and establish a solid reputation for the paper. In addition to overseeing the running of the whole establishment, she also runs some columns under her brother’s name. Mairi is also a firm believer of women’s rights, and when the Scottish Ladies National Association decide to stage a march on the streets of Edinburgh, Mairi is determined to be in the front of things, even if this means putting a target on her front and back. The SLNA isn’t exactly a popular movement, after all.
Logan Harrison is a success story when it comes to local politics. He made himself out of nothing, and he’s now the Lord Provost of Edinburgh despite his relatively young age. He didn’t get where he is today by being reckless or throwing himself against the establishment, so he doesn’t know what to make of Mairi other than she’s hot. There’s no avoiding Mairi, however, as she’s a very in-your-face kind of person, and it remains to be seen whether they can fall in love along the way.
The story is interesting in its own right. Mairi isn’t a sweet delicate flower kind of person – she’s the one that goes right up to you and wave her fingers right in front of your eyes. While that doesn’t make her nice, it lets her get things done, and I respect and admire that. I also like that the author allows Mairi to be what she is without making any concessions to being a sweet or feminine stereotype. The author does introduce a villain whose biggest role in this story is to cut Mairi off from the source of her independence, but I see this more of a plot development to let Logan bring something into the relationship. While I don’t think Logan needs to bring anything other than his heart and the right body parts into the relationship, I guess it’s a romance novel thing for the guy to pay the bills one way or the other. Otherwise, people may think that he’s the house-husband or something, and we don’t want that, do we?
Logan isn’t a sexist pig. He just doesn’t think about women deserving rights – he doesn’t even think about the possibility of them wanting equal rights to men – but he’s willing to open his mind to possibilities when he’s confronted by these things. If I do have an issue with him, it’s how the author portrays him as opposed to what the author tells me that he is. Logan seems so laid back, too laid back perhaps, and he doesn’t seem to be on point when it comes to what is happening under his nose, at least not on point enough to make me believe that he’s the tenacious and politically savvy person that he’s said to be. Still, his personality complements Mairi’s well. When she’s too fast, he slows her down a bit, and when he’s too slow, she gives him a much-needed push.
Anyway, as I’ve said earlier, the conflict between Mairi and Logan is interesting, but the romance is far less so. This is because the author spends more time crafting out the differences in the philosophy and politics of Logan and Mairi, developing Logan’s shifting perspective in tandem with his relationships with Mairi and various secondary characters, and charting Mairi’s determination to help SLNA make a difference in the local scene. After a while, the romance seems like something added in as an afterthought. When these two say that they’re in love, I can only nod my head, ask them to kiss, and then keep going with the non-love story as that story is far more interesting than the barely-there mushy parts.
At the end of the day, I find The Witch of Clan Sinclair an interesting read, but the romance is pretty flimsy, so I’m not sure whether I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a romance novel first and foremost. If you want to read this one, adjust your expectations accordingly first.