The Scottish Witch: The Chattan Curse by Cathy Maxwell is the second book in the “Chattan Curse” series. After a young woman commits suicide due to an unfaithful lover, her mother places a curse on the man and his family. If a Chattan man falls in love, he will die after siring a son to continue the witche's prophesy. Harry and his two siblings, Neal and Margaret, are the first in the Chattan line to be more than a one child generation. It is because of this that they hope to change what they see as their fate…to live without love and a family to avoid death.
Harry Chattan is a man on a mission. He has traveled to the wilds of Scotland to find a witch to reverse the family curse. His older brother is succumbing to the mystery illness that has claimed all the previous Chattan men after they sired a son. Harry is determined to find an answer and believes against all hope he will find the cure in Scotland. A decorated war hero, Harry has his own demons that have haunted him.
Portia Maclean has much more mundane problems to worry about than a family curse. Thanks to a adulterous and wastrel father, the family has been left bouncing from family member to family member as poor relations. After being sent to the country and renting a small cottage home that is falling down around their ears, they are facing eviction because their family has conviently forgotten to send money to support them. Add to that a mother that is in denial about her late husband, and a sister that has managed to anger the landlord's jealous daughter with her beauty and to fall in love with the homely town doctor, and you have a distressing mess. Portia devises a plan to pretend to be the witch Harry is searching for, believing the money she will gain will make her conscious feel better about fooling an Englishman. Little does she know a mysterious cat has other plans for her, much less that she finds the Englishman in question to be humble and genuinely concerned for his family.
I found this book to be a little slower paced than the first in the series. Although it took a little longer to pick up, I wouns up really enjoyed this mix of characters. Portia is the main provider for the Maclean family; she cares for each member, makes sure to pay the bills and doles out what little she has saved in the way of money as she can. She is fiercely devoted to her beautiful sister, who is just as pretty on the inside as she is outside. She tries to keep her meddling mother from ruining the blossoming romance of the town doctor and Minnie, her sister. Portia reminds me a lot of most women I meet: devoted, headstrong, and sometimes a little derogatory to herself. She tries to provide for her family's needs before her own happiness.
Harry is a devil-may-care rake, albeit a disillusioned and fearful one. I expected a lot of things of Harry - none of them overly great. I must admit that I was pleasantly fooled. His love for his brother touched my heart. He was truthful to the point of pain, humbling himself before a “witch” in order to save his brother's life. Harry made me remember the bonds that siblings have and the overwhelming need of all people to love and be loved, no matter the obstacles in the way. His war memories and coping mechanisms, alcohol and opium, made me feel like I was reading a story about a 21st century soldier with PTSD and the spiral into an abyss of his own making.
Ms. Maxwell again delivers a compelling and heartfelt read to her fans. I can't wait to read the next in the series, The Devil's Heart: The Chattan Curse.