In Rowan’s Lady, the first in her Clan Graham Series, Suzan Tisdale has created the poignant story of two lost souls.
Rowan Graham’s wife, Kate, died four years ago in the Black Death that decimated Europe and Scotland. Although theirs was an arranged marriage, Rowan fell deeply in love with Kate. On her deathbed she makes him promise he will marry again, but he is unable to do so. He throws himself into raising their young daughter and rebuilding his clan.
Lady Arline has been married twice, and both were arranged by her father, a dastardly man who uses her as a pawn for his own gain. For various reasons, neither marriage was consummated, and she is therefore convinced she is unlovable and unappealing to men in general. She longs for the love of a man, for family, and a home, but does not see it as a part of her future.
When Rowan’s young daughter is kidnapped by Garrick Blackthorne, Arline’s husband, Rowan and Arline’s lives become intertwined, and the lost souls must come to terms with their own fears and failings in order to find happiness with each other.
For those of you following my reviews, you know I have read several on Tisdale’s books. This is, so far, my favorite. I had trouble putting it down from the moment I started. The characters of Rowan and Arline are well-drawn. Their internal and external goals are clearly defined, and their character growth is subtle yet clear. They are both greatly changed by the end of the book. Arline’s character arc is particularly well done. I finished the book and only then realized how much stronger she had become as a person. And Rowan, like all of Tisdale’s men, is a hero to die for. She has a knack for making her men strong yet gentle, flawed yet nearly perfect. I also loved the interaction between Rowan and Arline, particularly the comic scenes which were appropriately placed and gave a spark of authenticity to their relationship.
The plotting is well-done, tight, and keeps you guessing at every turn. Tisdale gives just enough details for the setting that you feel like you are there, but not so much it takes away from the story. The dastardly actions of several individuals creates a suspenseful arc that keeps you turning the page. Her description of the Black Death was particularly well-done. And it was nice to see some of the characters from the previous books – Wee William, Findley, and the others.
Again, I know some of my readers like very clean romance. While Rowan’s Lady is not as racy as some of Tisdale’s other works, there is a clear character arc with Lady Arline as she comes to terms with some incorrect information about men and women, and as she comes to understand herself as a woman. Tisdale treats the subject with dignity and grace, and there is nothing in the book that is immoral in any way, but if you are offended by mention of even passionate kissing this may not be the book for you.
Otherwise, Rowan’s Lady is truly a wonderful story that will take you to the Highlands of Scotland. Even if you don’t read Scottish books, this is one that will enchant you!