Publication date: July 30, 2013
Publisher: Avon Romance
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This is the first of Margo Maguire's books that I've read, and while I applaud her for crafting an interesting story, the characters and plot respectively are not altogether thrilling or wonderfully paced.
The story start off introducing the feud between two clans, the Macmillan and the Macauley. After the Macauleys were bested in battle, the new laird Cullen Macauley offered for marriage the love of Lachann Macmillian, which prompted Lachann to swore against love. Six years later, Lachann has come to wed Laird Macduffie's daughter, Catriona, for political reasons, not knowing he'd requestion his vow against love when he falls for Anna MacIver, stepsister to Catriona and a servant in Macduffie's household.
Certainly, the setup is reminiscent of Cinderella, with the evil stepsister (just one, thank goodness) and an uncaring parent. Anna and Lachann are near opposites in their desires; he wanting a political marriage without love, and her wanting love but not a husband. Yet they are drawn to each other at first sight, and neither really tried to resist this desire for what they believe they must do. Alas, the path to love is never easy, as our villains attempt to thwart Anna and Lachann's romance with their own machinations. Cullen Macauley has come to compete with Lachann for the Macduffie lairdship, while Catriona repeatedly tries to hurt Anna with her nefarious but extremely petty schemes.
The characters are, in many ways, almost cookie-cutter and overly conventional. The villains have no depth as they are entirely unsympathetic. There is not much depth to either Lachann or Anna, despite what direct and indirect characterization reveal about their manners and wishes. Lachann is absurd in swearing against love for his lost love who was forced in a marriage-of-convenience, when the target of his rage should have been Cullen Macauley. Anna, on the other hand, just wants to escape her life and find love, yet she does not try to fight for Lachann's love, and even more by withholding crucial information on Catriona's personality, when she knows Lachann would be miserable in his planned marriage. I do not find this lack of trust between the characters to exhibit signs of true love, which leads to the plot moving at a slow pace - the characters are stuck in their own world of schemes and uncertainty, and blatant facts are ignored in favor of what is almost preferred ignorance.
But, for what it's worth, the story altogether is not bad, though it's hardly great. An attempt to reinvent Cinderella in a historical setting is always engaging, but when there is neither a fast-paced plot with myriad twists nor multidimensional characters, it can at best only achieve a good quality, though this one leans more towards mediocre.
Rating: 3.5 tulips