Posts Tagged ‘18th Century Scotland’

(Storm Over Scotland #2)

Genre: Historical Romance

Cover Blurb (Amazon):

December 1743: In a snow-swept Edinburgh, Redcoat Captain Robert Catto and surgeon-apothecary’s daughter Christian Rankeillor face each other across a divide no bridge can cross. She’s in deadly danger: not least from him.

His investigations have turned up compelling evidence of a real threat posed to the House of Hanover by a plan to restore the House of Stuart to the British throne. Two of those at the heart of Jacobite political intrigue in Scotland are Patrick Rankeillor and his daughter Christian. Yet with each day that passes and despite their very different and deeply-held views, Robert and Kirsty are falling ever more deeply in love.

Robert Catto always does his duty. It’s all he’s ever had to hold on to: but he’s in danger too. Forced to confront his difficult past and a family connection that could call his loyalty to the crown into question, he could be risking the ruin of his military career.

And then there’s runaway Geordie Smart, his sister Alice and young African boy, Joshua. All three have been cruelly treated by a family of bored and cruel members of the gentry. Robert Catto and Christian Rankeillor stand ready to help Geordie, Alice and Joshua but that’s not going to be easy.

How is Robert Catto to reconcile doing his duty with his feelings for Christian Rankeillor? And how is she to balance her commitment to her father, their friends and the Stuart Cause with her feelings for Robert Catto?


This is the second book in Maggie Craig’s Storm Over Scotland trilogy and I strongly recommend that you read Gathering Storm first to fully appreciate Dance to the Storm.

I like how Ms. Craig explores Robert and Kirsty’s relationship in greater depth in this book, but also provides enough drama and suspense to keep the story moving at a good pace, as Robert continues his search for the Jacobite conspirators.

Both are torn between their love for each other and their loyalty to others. Honour and duty have always been paramount to Robert, but now there is someone who means more to him. He vows to keep Kirsty and her father safe even though it means compromising his own integrity and jeopardising his military career. Not knowing who he can trust, he is going to have to proceed cautiously, and I think Ms. Craig’s analogy of walking a tightrope to describe Robert’s situation – one wrong step and you fall – fits perfectly.

Kirsty is similarly torn and begins to question her loyalty to the Jacobite cause. She cannot accept that the end justifies the means when it comes to murder. Given the choice of telling those who support the cause of the potential danger, or protecting Robert, she chooses the man she loves.

At times, she does make some foolish decisions, apparently oblivious to the consequences of her actions. I certainly couldn’t blame Robert for being so angry with her when he is risking everything to try and save her.

Robert has never known much love or affection in his life and it was heartwarming to see that, with Kirsty and her household, he had found a place he truly feels he belongs – where he feels part of family again.

I could feel Robert and Kirsty’s intense longing for each other and there were lovely tender moments, made all the more heartbreaking because there seems no way they can ever be together.

I like how Ms. Craig once again weaves social commentary into the fabric of her story, and shows the harsher side of life for ordinary people without power and wealth. Those who worked in Scotland’s coal mines, many young boys, were little more than serfs and legally the property the mine owners. Any runaways who were caught and brought back suffered a terrible punishment.

Among the secondary characters who particularly stood out were Sergeant Livingston who had some some wise advice for Robert; Geordie Smart who had a pretty hard time in this book; Joshua, the young, African servant who showed great courage, and Betty Gilchrist, Kirsty’s formidable little housekeeper.

When it comes to cruel Charlotte Liddell and her depraved brother, Cosmo, I hope that Ms. Craig has some suitable retribution for these two loathsome creatures in the final book.

I’m looking forward to reading Storm Crossed Moon, the final book in this trilogy, but it’s difficult to imagine how Robert and Kirsty will ever have their Happy Ever After. However, to quote the star-crossed pair…

”How are we to find our way through all of this?’ Her voice shook.”
“Somehow we’ll find a way.”

I’m sure Ms. Craig will.

Highly recommended for those who love intelligently written and impeccably researched Romantic Historical Fiction.

Originally posted on Goodreads

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(Storm Over Scotland #1)

Genre: Historical Romance

Cover Blurb (Amazon):

Edinburgh, Yuletide 1743, and Redcoat officer Robert Catto would rather be anywhere else on earth than Scotland. Seconded back from the wars in Europe to captain the city’s Town Guard, he fears his covert mission to assess the strength of the Jacobite threat will force him to confront the past he tries so hard to forget.

Christian Rankeillor, her surgeon-apothecary father and his apprentice Jamie Buchan of Balnamoon are committed supporters of the Stuart Cause. They’re hiding a Jacobite agent with a price on his head in Edinburgh Royal Infirmary: a hanging offence.

As they pick their way through a labyrinth of intrigue, Robert and Kirsty are increasingly drawn to each other. She knows their mutual attraction can go nowhere. He knows his duty demands that he must betray her.


This book came highly recommended by my friend, Wendy Loveridge, and I certainly wasn’t disappointed because Maggie Craig is a superb writer. The first book in the Storm Over Scotland series, GATHERING STORM is an engrossing story with multi-layered characters, a meticulously researched historical setting and a star-crossed romance.

Edinburgh in 1743 is the backdrop to the story and Ms. Craig brings this historical setting vividly to life with her evocative writing and obvious in-depth knowledge of her subject. I could easily visualise the narrow, winding streets and smell their foulness, and I like how she doesn’t shy away from showing the dark underbelly of the town – the grim lives of those women forced to eke out a living anyway they can, and the depravity of those wealthy men who believed that their rank gave them the right to do whatever they wanted without consequences. It’s also a town of divided loyalties with the Jacobites who support the restoration of the exiled Stuart king on one side, and those who support the Hanoverian king in London on the other. It all combines to create the perfect setting for a fascinating story of political intrigue, murder, danger and betrayal.

What I love about Robert Catto is that he’s such a complex character. He is something of a mystery because, despite being born a Scot, he has spent half his life in the army, serving King George II. It’s clear that his reluctance to return to his homeland stems from something that happened in his youth; something so life-changing that he has done everything to conceal his past and his true identity.

At face value, it would would be easy to dislike Robert. In the scene where he breaks into Professor Rankeillor’s house and is confronted by an incensed Christian (Kirsty), he’s rude, sarcastic, belligerent and coarse. It is only later that I discovered he has every reason to hate the Jacobite cause on a personal level. He regards the Jacobites as dreamers and fools who have no conception of the realities of war, but Robert has seen first hand the horrific consequences of war, while fighting in Europe, and will do whatever he must to prevent a civil war in Scotland, and the bloodshed that would follow. It helped me to understand his motivations and, as the story unfolds, I began to see another side to him – a man who is honourable, loyal and caring, although he hides it well. I like how he realises that he can make a difference to Geordie’s life by treating him with respect and kindness, and I saw his compassion towards Geordie’s sister after her ordeal. Robert might be a hardened soldier, but he would always protect those who needed it.

Kirsty is very close to her father and she had an unconventional upbringing because he actively encouraged her interest in medicine. She helps him in his apothecary shop and has no qualms about observing a dissection. She’s intelligent and capable with a kind heart, but she’s no wilting lily and doesn’t crumble under Robert’s confrontational behaviour. I admired her fierce loyalty to her father but she did seem heedless of the potential consequences of helping the Jacobite spy.

As Robert and Kirsty are thrown into each other’s company more and more, a strong attraction sparks between them, one they know is going nowhere…

Wrong time, wrong place. Wrong man, wrong woman. Wrong situation.

…but one they are helpless to ignore.

Fully aware of the danger Kirsty is in, Robert is determined to keep her safe regardless of the huge risk to himself.

There is a strong cast of secondary characters who all add depth to the story. I particularly liked Duncan Forbes of Culloden, the Lord President of Scotland, an honourable and wise man, who cares about Scotland and doesn’t want to see it plunged into civil war, and Geordie Smart, the young cook boy who brings out Robert’s softer side, was certainly a scene stealer.

The various plot threads running through the story often seem unconnected and I love how Ms. Craig skilfully draws them all together to provide a surprise revelation that I certainly didn’t see coming. There are just enough threads left hanging to make me eager to read the second book, DANCE TO THE STORM and, of course, see what happens to Robert and Kirsty.

This was a superbly written story which skillfully blends history, political intrigue, mystery, danger and a star-crossed romance between a Redcoat Captain and a Jacobite lady. Highly recommended.

Originally posted on Goodreads

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