Border Lass
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I wasn’t all that impressed by Knight’s Treasure, the first book I’d read by Amanda Scott, but I tried to give her another chance, hoping that I’d find some of her other books to be better. Sadly, my plan didn’t work. Just as she did in Knight’s Treasure, Scott tries very hard to incorporate history and suspense into Border Lass, but the end result is a tedious romance that’s too complicated for its own good.

Lady Amalie Murray is a young noblewoman living in 14th century Scotland. Amalie has vowed to never marry, claiming that she won’t be viewed as a pawn in the game of arranged-marriage-for-political-gain. Scott tries to paint Amalie as some sort of medieval feminist—but, instead, the heroine just sounds whiny and argumentative. Amalie is also a snoop, and she overhears a plot to kill…. someone. Amalie hears so little of the plot that she doesn’t know who the bad guys are trying kill, nor does she recognize any of their voices. It’s all a little too vague to base the whole plot of a book around, but Scott tries to do it anyway.

Sir Garth Napier finds Amalie eavesdropping, and he’s convinced that she’s now in grave danger. The two become inextricably linked as Sir Garth takes on a job with Amalie’s mistress, Princess Isabel. The rest of the novel is spent trying to figure out who the bad guys are, whom they’re plotting to kill, and how to stop them. There’s also a subplot involving Amalie’s family attempting to marry her off to (as we later learn) one of the bad guys. And to make matters worse, there’s also a sub-sub-plot of finding out who killed Princess Isabel’s first husband, the Earl of Douglas. Here, Scott tries to bring in elements of the history of Clan Douglas, the Border family who, at one point, were the “most powerful family in all of Scotland.”

The whole novel is a sea of names and titles, locations and politics, and long, expository speeches from each and every character. I honestly couldn’t keep any of the characters’ titles or political affiliations straight, and I was sorely tempted to put the book down. I applaud Scott for her attempts at realism and historical accuracy, but this is supposed to be a romance novel, not a textbook. Even the love scenes are disappointing; there are only two, and they’re just as vague and chatty as the rest of the book.

All in all, I found Border Lass disappointing. Everything’s just too complicated and not nearly “fluffy” enough, I guess, to make it a good romance novel. The next time I want suspense with my romance, I think I’ll just brush off my copy of Bride of Black Douglas.

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