I'm usually a big fan of Karen Ranney, but I just couldn't get into A Scottish Love; too many disparate and unintegrated plotlines left me uninterested in the characters.
Shona, the widowed Countess of Morton, is so broke that she is planning to sell the moldering family castle in the Highlands to a nouveau-riche American with Scottish antecedents. Her brother Fergus, newly home from the Crimea and severely wounded, is adamantly opposed to the sale, but Shona keeps from him the reality of their financial situation. Why? I don't know.
Also just arrived in Invergaire Glen is her neighbor and former youthful love, Colonel Sir Gordon MacDermond. They are both still angry about their breakup years ago and blame the other, nursing their hurt when a two minute conversation would have cleared up what was, essentially, a Big Misunderstanding. Why didn't they talk then and why don't they talk now? I don't know.
When the Americans arrive to look over the castle, they are accompanied by a nurse, with whom Fergus fell in love when they met during the war. She loves him as well, but rejected him. Why? I don't know, but Florence Nightingale is somehow involved, and now Fergus limps around the castle growling at all and sundry.
There were also large sections of the book devoted to the building of the castle hundreds of years ago, and the tragic love affair that lead to the castle's resident ghosts. This love story is set up as a parallel to Shona and Gordon's history, but it was mostly just intrusive to their story.
Shona was a very difficult person to like, with her secrets and her stubborn adherence to her chosen path and her unwillingness to give an inch where Gordon is concerned. Gordon was a more likeable character, a war-weary army veteran who just wants to live in peace in his glen. He deserved better than Shona, but he is not without culpability in their continued estrangement.
Scotland is always as much of a character in a Karen Ranney romance as are the people in it, and in that respect, A Scottish Love is very successful. The countryside, the history, the ambience are all well done, as always. I just wish I'd liked the story and characters better.
Reviewed by Cheryl Sneed, November 28, 2011