Pride of Lions by Marsha Canham
Dell Publishing Company: 1997
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Purchased secondhand
This has been on my to-read list for at least a year, and I finally got around to purchasing it secondhand recently. Unfortunately, it’s old enough that it’s difficult to find at the library.
I expected this to be a historical romance along the lines of Julie Garwood, but was pleasantly surprised to find it more substantial than that.
It still has all the classic romance tropes, so if that’s your thing then you’re sure to like this book.
The heroine, Catherine, is a spoiled young heiress who fancies herself in love with a young lieutenant in the English army. She and her brother have a close relationship, and the day of a ball their father is hosting, they agree to a wager about their engagements. It all goes wrong when, instead of becoming engaged to her lieutenant, she ends up marrying a stranger, Raefer Montgomery, only known to her as a friend of her brother’s. So begins an odyssey toward love. Raefer Montgomery is actually Alexander Cameron, son of the Chief of Clan Cameron. He’s a Jacobite sympathizer just back from King James Stuart’s court on the continent, collecting information in England on his way home to Scotland. He uses Catherine as a shield to get past patrols on the trip north, and takes her with him to prevent her from turning him in to the English authorities.
The story takes place in 1745, only a few months before the massacre at Culloden, when arguably the clan-based Highland culture died with the thousands of clansmen who lost their lives on that field. This historical context gives a vivid backdrop to the romance at the center of the story. I enjoyed the extra dimension it added to the story, the sense of time and place it added.
As for the romance tropes, the heroine and hero spend their time bickering and arguing. They deliberately misunderstand one another for almost half the novel, until Catherine has been at the Camerons’ castle for long enough to hear stories that put Alexander in a brighter light. A young, vibrant, malicious Cameron woman who takes Catherine as her enemy because she believes Alexander is her ticket to civilization. After a period of separation and then a kidnapping, the two come closer together. Eventually, they begin to understand one another, and realize they’re in love.
I enjoyed the typical romance, but not as much as I would have liked a different pairing and a different romantic arc. The realistic setting made the entire book more enjoyable.