A Forbidden Liaison with Miss Grant by Marguerite Kaye
Set against the backdrop of the brutal Scottish Clearances, when thousands of crofters were driven off the land by wealthy landowners who wanted to farm the more profitable sheep, this is a solidly middle-class romance, which definitely makes it stand out among the usual Regency fare of dukes, earls and lords. While wealthy, the hero is the son of a clerk who has risen to own his own shipbuilding yard in Glasgow. The heroine is a schoolteacher who lost her school and her pupils to the Clearances and now ekes out a living writing seditious pieces for a journal in Edinburgh.
Something else that makes this romance unusual is that both members of the primary couple are older. Grayson is in his early forties, with two teenage children, and Constance turns forty during the course of the book. Two mature adults with a clear-eyed perspective on what they believe their lives should be like, they are both somewhat derailed by their unexpected attraction to each other, an attraction that goes far beyond the physical.
The course of true love does not, of course, run smooth. The author deftly weaves in real historical events into the narrative, the story taking place over several weeks. While the romance begins with an instant attraction, it takes a great deal of work and effort and will for the couple to actually find their way to a happy ending, something I found both believable and engaging.
This isn’t a flight of fantasy kind of romance. It feels like a story of two real people, overcoming obstacles and moving past tragedy to find a happy ending together. It’s powerful and painful and inspiring, and I’m really quite surprised to see it in Harlequin’s Historical line-up. I absolutely loved it. Five stars.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this title from the author.