Twin sisters Isobella and Elisabeth Douglas are visiting Scotland after Isobella's broken engagement. The trip was supposed to be her honeymoon. She's sad about it and is complaining that there are no men like Mr. Darcy. The ghost of Black Douglas, a long-distant relative, hears her and decides to interfere, transporting Isobella (an archaeologist) and Elisabeth (a doctor) back to 16th century Scotland. Elisabeth is taken by the Maclean Clan, while Isobella is rescued by Alysandir Mackinnon.
The Return of Black Douglas
Mass Market Paperback: 448 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publish Date: April 1, 2011
From the author's website:
The beloved ghost of the Black Douglas is back and up to his usual mischief. . .
And this time he takes you back to the ancient Scottish ancestors of the Mackinnon’s, from Elaine’s award-winning Mackinnon Series.
Longing for a man like Mr. Darcy and haunted by the feeling she was born two hundred years too late, Isobella Douglas never dreamed she would get what she wished for-- until she was hurled back five centuries to the Isle of Mull in the year 1515. She arrived in the midst of a battle between the Mackinnon’s and Maclean’s, only to be abandoned there by the capricious ghost of Black Douglas. Left to the mercy of her fate, she prayed for a hero when she saw him, a man as fierce and wild as the barbarous place that surrounded her.
Alysandir Mackinnon was a man who lived by his wits and the edge of his sword. He was a man of strong desires and in his prime, but what he wanted now were the answers to a lot of questions: Why is she here? Who sent her? And what am I going to do with her? In spite of suspicion that she is an English spy, Isobella adapts readily to castle life, and being an archaeologist, is soon up to her elbows digging in broken crockery bits, ancient bones and priceless relics, in spite of being forbidden to do so. Alysandir finds it difficult to trust the headstrong woman, or believe her preposterous time-travel story and battles the desire and distrust he feels, for Alysandir has been betrayed before.
Life in Early Renaissance Scotland is fraught with danger, deceit, clan rivalry and constant threats from the English- hardly the place for the course of true love to run smoothly. It seems the hapless couple is forever trapped in a series of unfortunate circumstances, and a happy ending never seems so far away. But, never underestimate the power of a man’s love, a woman’s understanding or the tenacity of a beloved Scottish ghost.
While waiting for Alistair to rescue her sister, she gets to know him better. She also meets his family, and takes an unexpected family member under her wing. Throughout it all, there's a ghost playing matchmaker between a headstrong 20th century archaeologist and a stubborn 16th century Clan Chief.
My thoughts: I really enjoyed the story and wanted to give it a 4, but for me it did drag a bit in the middle. It was exciting at first - 20th century women suddenly transported back in time - and one gets stolen!!! But then, from the moment he rescued her (around ARC page 75) until they finally gave in to each other (ARC page 245), I kept waiting for something to happen - that's a lot of pages to wait (granted, it is a 415 page ARC); it seemed like they weren't doing anything to rescue Isabolla's sister, and Isabella didn't seem too concerned about it, which I found strange.
Once things got going though, I loved it! You could tell they cared for each other but each had reasons not to open up and show how they really felt. Between Alysandir's inability to trust, or rather, to allow himself to trust Isobella, and her inability to give herself fully to him, the poor Ghost of Black Douglas had his hands full! When Isobella finally got frustrated and went to see her sister, I was thrilled; I liked her sister and was interested in what was going on over at the Maclean castle. Isobella's "adopting" of young Bradan was sweet - I was honestly a bit surprised at Alysandir's treatment of the child and was happy to see how things worked out.
I'm not usually a fan of ghosts in stories, but I liked the ghost of Black Douglas - he was a big plot point but didn't have a big part, if that makes any sense.
I really enjoyed the story and have already ordered the first book in the series, The Bride of Black Douglas. I am hoping Elisabeth's story is next...
This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.