Border Wedding

Amanda Scott
March 2008, Medieval Romance (1380s England and Scotland)
Warner, $6.99, 432 pages, Amazon ASIN 044619798X
Part of a series

Grade: D
Sensuality: Warm

Border Wedding started out interestingly enough, with a Medieval shotgun wedding between a drop-dead gorgeous knight and the plain daughter of a minor baron, but soon turned dull, and eventually aggravating the longer I read.

Sir Walter Scott (not the Sir Walter Scott, though parts of story are loosely based on some of his writings) was caught trying to steal back cattle which had been stolen from him by Sir Iagan Murray. Sir Iagan's shrewd wife, who has three daughters to marry off, is loath to waste an eligible man, even if he is a reiver, and talks her husband into giving Walter (or Wat, as he is called) the choice between marrying their homely daughter Meg or hanging. Wat chooses Meg and takes her - but not his cattle - home.

Tensions are running high on the border between England and Scotland with the Earl of Douglas - Chief Warden of the Scot's Border Marches - and England's Henry "Hotspur" Percy readying their troops. As you might imagine, the history quotient is quite heavy here, though it is pretty well-done. For the most part, I found the details and actions of the historical figures to be interesting and smoothly inserted into the text; the action didn't come to a complete standstill as it can do in many books. However, I was always aware that History was being told.

Wat and Meg's relationship wasn't nearly as compelling. Wat quickly discovers that he likes bedding Meg, and while Meg enjoys it as well, she never gets to experience The Big O. Wat eventually figures it out and vows that the next time she will, but we never get to see it. After several loves scenes where Meg almost gets there, I felt cheated and think we should have been privy to its eventual occurrence.

There is a whole lot of nothing going on for a good 200 pages in the middle of the book as Meg sets about cleaning Wat's home and gets to know her in-laws while Wat is off playing with the boys. Then, suddenly, there is an explosion of activity with treachery and battles aplenty in last 100 pages or so, and things picked up.

I really can't get into how the villains were dealt with at the end without major spoilers, but I have to say that the denouement really got in my craw, especially the fact that the crimes of one - who deserved emasculation at the very least - were brushed aside as if his actions were no big deal. This so infuriated me that it sent the grade of the book from a C to a D.

I've never read an Amanda Scott romance before; I've heard both good and bad things about her books, and that's exactly what I found in Border Wedding. I might have tried another book if what I'd found to be good was the romance, but unfortunately, it wasn't - and that is, after all, why we read romance.

-- Cheryl Sneed

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