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Master of the Highlands    by Sue-Ellen Welfonder order for
Master of the Highlands
by Sue-Ellen Welfonder
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 2003 (2003)

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* *   Reviewed by Rashmi Srinivas

This book continues the saga of the MacLeans. Tragedy-ridden Iain MacLean finds that life is not over for him after all. Iain is sorrowful, frustrated, angry and burdened with feelings of guilt for having failed to protect his wife from a diabolical relative. Now his ill temper has reduced his family's private chapel to ashes and his elder brother Donald (the Laird of the MacLeans who appeared in Devil in a Kilt) is most displeased with him. He sends Iain on a journey of penance to deliver priceless relics to Dunkeld Cathedral, with an injunction to stay away until he learns to control his temper. Horrified at this dismal prospect, Iain proceeds on what he believes to be a useless journey. Little does he know what surprises Fate and her minion, the witchy woman Devorgilla, have in store for him.

Meanwhile, strong-willed Lady Madeline Drummond barely manages to escape when the cruel Silver Leg raids her father's keep. Believing her father to have been burnt alive, and determined on revenge, she sets out on a most unusual quest, posing as a nun. But this young woman is cursed with a witchy gift, to recognize people's true feelings and unspoken thoughts and it has long made her life hell. The braw lad and fair lady have a memorable encounter when Iain rescues her from a dangerous situation. He's posing as a pilgrim and she as a nun, and neither is willing to reveal the truth to the other. When heart recognizes heart, is Iain willing to give life and love another chance? And can Madeline ignore what she knows of Iain's true feelings?

Sue-Ellen Welfonder captivated readers with the first episode in the MacLean saga, Devil in a Kilt. She continues the story with a most unlikely hero - sullen, foul tempered Iain MacLean. Iain's agony at the loss of his spouse is touchingly portrayed. Madeline is an unusual heroine, brave and insecure at the same time. Though she and Iain have stubbornly given up on love, love hasn't given up on them. The meddling of the interfering old crone Devorgilla gives them a second chances. Welfonder brings the Highlands to life, conveying the atmosphere of the medieval era and the actions and beliefs of its people. Romance, mystery, action and passion, combined with historical details, make Master of the Highlands a joy to read.

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