Ballantine, Oct 18 2011, $7.99
In 1306 Bella Comyn sits in a cage hanging high over Berwick Castle ever since she crowned Robert Bruce as King of Scotland. King Edward of England uses her as an example of those who betray him; and her abusive spouse John who wanted to be the Scottish ruler encourages him. Her only regret is she misses her daughter.
Six months earlier, Highland Guard mercenary Lachlan MacRuairi arrives at Belvedere Castle to escort Bella to Scone to coronate Robert Bruce as the Scottish king. Time runs out on them when John arrives. Lachlan forces Bella to leave her twelve year old daughter behind. They escape, but she is angry with him. John follows them so Lachlan has them hide in a cave. He wants the Countess but distrusts women since his wife betrayed him and his clan. They leave for Scone with Lachlan killing several enemies. They make it safely to Scone but too late for the coronation at a time when Bruce’s claim is shaky due to a betrayal. Bruce asks Lachlan to escort nine women and three children to his brother. Lachlan reluctantly agrees. On the journey Lachlan and Bella fall in love, but upon arriving at their destination, she believes he betrayed them to her husband.
More historical than romance, the early fourteenth century era with betrayal and distrust as common traits comes across vividly described. The lead pair is fully developed, but besides an attraction and a few kisses deftly avoids each other; thus rightfully so the romantic subplot is almost non existent. Although there is an odd major gap in time towards the end, readers will enjoy the tale of two supporters of Robert The Bruce.