Lady Of Skye
by Patricia Cabot, historical (2001)
Sonnet, $6.50, ISBN 0-7434-1027-0


Oh, Dr Reilly Stanton of Patricia Cabot's latest Lady Of Skye is one of those rare breed of heroes - a perfect blend of roguishness and intelligence. He makes this story more fun than it would otherwise be.

Dr Stanton is actually the Marquis of Stillworth who decides to Brave The Untamed Wilderness of the remote Isle of Skye to prove to the woman who jilted him that he is not a drunkard wastrel like she claimed. What better than to play savior to some undoubtedly backward Scottish hillbillies, right?

Wrong. From the first day when he gets trumped by the local healer woman Brenna Donnegal - Brenna, what sort of name is that?! - he finds himself worse off than when he was in London. Brenna is wanted as a wife by the local laird, a post she has no intention ever to fill. Poor Stanton finds himself trapped between the laird (his employer) and Brenna (his, er, love interest). Likewise, Brenna is conducting some rituals in graveyards in the still of night - she's not crazy, is she? If she is, it'll be darned inconvenient, because Stanton willingly admits that he is falling hard and fast for her.

Brenna is not a witch, but actually a doctor-in-the-making, working hard at finding the actual vector for cholera. (Alas, it's not her hypothesis that she is working on, it's her father's - when oh when will our heroines actually do something that is born from their supposedly brainy and revolutionary minds?) She finds this newcomer exasperatingly charming - Stanton is nice when she will find it more convenient to think him a pest. How can she resist?

I really, really like Stanton, to the extent that I am willing to overlook his scratchy past. In fact, Stanton's bewildering, sometimes schizophrenic past is the one sticking annoyance I have with this story. Stanton seems like a mix between a stereotypical rake and an actual nice guy. For one, I'm told he has always despised his peers for their shallow and selfish behavior, and on the other hand I'm told he was once a drunkard and a womanizer. Huh? Likewise, he wants to get away from his title and be just a doctor, yet he wanted to marry a woman who puts peerage (and money) above all. Eh?

It is as if the author is trying hard to please both the readers who want the same old rake and also readers who may be more amenable to non-rake heroes. In doing so, she makes Stanton even more inexplicable. Never mind - I imagined he got knocked in the head while on his way to Skye and Saw The Light (or something).

Brenna's characterization could be better fleshed out too, true, but her relationship with Stanton is funny and pleasant to follow. Never mind the drab and cold-looking green cover (Sonnet's Art Department really has an unhealthy love for that sickly-green shade, I notice), the story in Lady Of Skye is as sunny and pleasant as the warmest of summer days.

Rating: 88


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