The Legend of Lady McLaoch*

Promising Start that Failed to Deliver

I so wanted to like this book! I adore all manner of Scottish books, fiction and nonfiction. It had a promising start with not one but two out-of-time-sequence chapters. The first was very strong, of a dying young woman in long-ago Scotland cursing her father and her family for generations because of how he had made her suffer. The next prologue (can a book have 2 prologues?) was a rather intense battle scene that took place 3 years before the main text’s time frame.

Once contemporary, the book starts with Cole (and the rest of her family) finding out that they are not really Bakers but Minarys, her grandfather having taken the former name of his mother’s second husband (not Grandpa’s biological father). Grandpapa dies before revealing anything else. After graduating from college, Cole decides to research more about the name, and this brings her to the Isle of Skye in Scotland.

I only like to give a tease about the first part of the book. Aside from the set-up above, the first 25% of the book had little action; yes, Cole meets the current laird, Rowan MacLaoch (one of the fighters in the prologue battle scene), whose history is bound up with that of her family’s. In that first 25%, she learns about her family altered history and meets the laird twice (thinking him a caretaker of the castle, not the laird). That’s it. In a book that promises “mystery” and “quest,” I found it a very slow and boring start.

I found Cole to be rude and disrespectful, not “feisty” as the description promised; I could just never warm up to her as a character. Some of Cole’s reactions to people in Scotland just seemed bizarre. Her mother seemed a stock character of a middle-aged Southern lady, and some of the Scottish people seemed to stereotypes of what one would think of those living in that country; these secondary characters fell flat. The book’s formatting was annoying; just one skinny space of paragraph indentation and no padding between paragraphs made the narrative appear like giant blocks.

I received an advance review copy for free, but–obviously–that did not affect my review.