Steamy historical romance with welcome diversity. The handsome dark features of the MacGregor laird, Asher, are little known to arise largely from his Canadian First Nations mother. I enjoyed the rustic recollections from the beautiful but “absolutely uncompromising” Canadian wilderness, where families weathered the winter in a longhouse. Asher’s present task is finding a husband for a reluctant American heiress. Despite their strong attraction, Hannah fears becoming a man’s chattel in accordance with the mysogynistic laws of the day. Her stepfather’s self-serving and abusive treatment of family in Boston is worrying, and Hannah can’t see how to intervene unless she returns as an independent woman. Asher protects her with subterfuge when unchaperoned time together might have forced their marriage, knowing that freedom of choice is essential to the determined heiress. In an early escapade, they’re stuck in a Scottish snowstorm, surviving with shared warmth: “We sleep together, like kittens, and use both our coats as extra blankets.” Asher’s family conspires to throw the couple together, and every stolen moment is savoured as possibly their last: “Hannah closed her eyes, the better to catalogue sensations to hoard them up against the barren expanse of the rest of her life.” Asher’s uncanny ability as a trained physician give him helpful insight into Hannah’s persistent limp: “The physicians of the previous age knew something we modern fellows have forgotten: much of effective medicine has to do with interviewing the patient. Not examining him or her like a laboratory specimen, but earning the patient’s confidences.” Beautiful writing from an excellent author of this genre.
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