Monday, January 15, 2007

McClairen's Isle: The Passionate One by Connie Brockway

Picked this one up from my TBR pile as part of the Author of the Month selection from my reading group. It is the first in the McClairen's Isle trilogy and is the story of Ash Merrick, the eldest son of the Earl of Carr who mercilessly killed off his wife's clan after the Jacobite rebellion in 45. Ash was raised to despise his father who murdered his mother. He was alienated by his mother's relations so he never found love or tenderness from anyone.

Ash had spent several years as a political prisoner in a French prison before his father ransomed him out to serve as his lackey. Carr left his younger son, the one that most resembled his mother, to rot in prison, refusing to pay that ransom. Ash is determined to raise enough money to liberate his little brother and so he saves all the money he earns in gambling and serving his father in hopes that it will be sooner than later that he can save his brother.

Ash takes on the task to go and fetch Rhiannon Russell who is by all accords his father's ward.
Rhiannon has lived a quiet life after having witnessed her family being slaughter by the English and then being refused shelter by the ward she was suppose to belong to. She had been taken in by the Frasier's who raised her and treated her as one of their own. Ash shows up and is intrigued by the young lady but not as much as the ability this lass has to throw a wrench into his father's plan.

It seems that Rhiannon is to be wed in a mere two weeks which would ruin whatever plans his father has for her, since Ash believes that his father in intent on marrying the chit. He agrees to stay for the wedding and then bring the 'happy' tidings to his father, but it seems that the attraction between them will damn him in his resolve and the fact that there is someone trying to kill Rhiannon.

The book was an easy read, since Brockway does a great job at building characters that are full of life and, those with dark undercurrent are palpably wounded. The sadness in Ash kept me rooting for a happy ending which in turn made this a page turner. Carr was evil and Fia, Ash's younger sister, was not a character I much sympathized with. I did see the effort that Brockway made to show Fia as a damaged girl whose personality had been formed by her father's influence, but I could not really feel much for her. On the other hand Ash's character was so well defined that you could feel his suffering emanating from his wasted body. I am looking forward to Raine's story which I can only guess will feature a much more scarred man since he had to deal with his father's hatred as well as his imprisonment.

Grade: B


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