Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Guest Review - - The Devil of Clan Sinclair

The Devil of Clan Sinclair
By Karen Ranney
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: July 30, 2013

Virginia Anderson is the only child of a wealthy American industrialist. She grew up at Cliff House, the family home in the state of New York. Her mother died giving birth to Virginia, and her father was a distant, rarely seen figure throughout her childhood. Virginia’s life was largely interior and isolated except for her governesses from whom she often hid. When she reached marriageable age, her father insisted on taking her to England to find her a title. His first choice was a duke, but he had to settle for an earl—Lawrence Taylor, Earl of Barrett. What mattered was that his son-in-law held a title. It didn’t matter at all that Virginia had fallen in love with a Scotsman, a man with whom she could talk and laugh, a man who made her feel beautiful.

Macrath Sinclair is a self-made man, an inventor and newspaper owner who has amassed a fortune he is bent on increasing. Having grown up poor, Macrath is determined to build an empire so great that he and his family will never again do without the things they need and want. The fierce and fearless Macrath, known as the Devil of Drumvagen in the tiny Scottish village where he makes his home is an unlikely match for the shy, diffident Virginia, but they bring out the best in one another. But Macrath is forced to give up on bringing Virginia to Drumvagen when he receives a note saying Virginia has chosen a title over what he could offer her.

Virginia lacks the means and the courage to defy her father when he announces that he has arranged her marriage to Lawrence Traylor, Earl of Barrett. The exchange of title and money brings no happiness to either party. The earl loathes his bride so much that he can’t bear to touch her, and the only thing that keeps Virginia from total despair is the affection in which she holds her two young sisters-in-law. Virginia has been a wife scarcely a year when the sickly Lawrence dies and makes her a widow, an impoverished widow at that since Lawrence wills all the money he has not spent to a “male heir of his body.” With no male heir, all the money Virginia brought to the marriage and all she inherited at her father’s death and all the houses and land Lawrence purchased with those funds will go to his nearest male relative, a man with seven children, an unpleasant wife, and no inclination to support the Traylor women.   Her mother-in-law persuades Virginia that their only hope of survival is for Virginia to find a man to impregnate her and hope for a son they can pass off as Lawrence’s. Virginia can think of only Macrath. With her mother-in-law’s help, Virginia travels to Scotland. After a rapturous reunion that allows Macrath to believe that will be wed at last, she leaves him and returns to England.

Even then an angry and betrayed Macrath can’t forget Virginia. He tries to, but after months in Australia, he arrives in England determined to see her. Instead, he learns that Virginia is seriously ill, having barely survived smallpox, and that she has a child. Macrath knows the child is his, and he kidnaps his son, taking him, the child’s wet nurse, and nursery maid back to Scotland. Motherhood has given Virginia a backbone, and she follows them to Scotland. No one is going to separate her from her child, who is the Earl of Barrett in the eyes of the world. The battle ensues, as Virginia and Macrath fight one another, their own emotions, and a common enemy before arriving at their HEA.
Did you ever read a book and know that you are just not the audience for it? That was my position with this book. I don’t share the passion may of my friends have for Scottish romances, I like strong heroines, I prefer understated drama to the spectacular, and I’m a tough sale for the impregnated-by-another-man plot. The Devil of Clan Sinclair is a well-written book, overflowing with high drama and passion and a truly creepy villain. I have no doubt that some readers will love it. I didn’t.

I struggled to suspend disbelief at a dozen points, including the convenient-for-the-plot death of Virginia’s father, the conviction that the child would be a boy, and Virginia’s two trips to Scotland. I can imagine some readers screaming about Virginia’s spinelessness for the first half of the book, but, given her nature, her upbringing, and the realities of women’s legal position in the 1860s, I could accept her lack of open defiance. But I hated that even within herself, she is passive until she becomes the mother bear.

For me, Macrath is the redeeming factor. I have a fondness for self-made heroes, and I loved his intelligence, his loyalty, and his stubborn love for Virginia. His reaction to his devil title is delightful, and his scenes with his son are definitely aww moments. He is a great hero. The best thing about Virginia is that she’s smart enough to fall for him.

So, my recommendation on this one is that if you love Scottish romances with lots of angst and drama, you may find this a rewarding read. If, like me, you prefer imagination’s tune to have a few more notes of reality, and you prefer subtlety to spectacle, this one probably won't be a book you want to rush to read.



  1. Thank you so much for your honest review, Janga. I do like Scottish romances but I'm not sure that this one would work for me either. I'll give it a try because I do like Karen Ranney. We shall see.

  2. Ruth, I agree that Ranney has written some excellent books. This one just didn't work for me. I'm sure there will be other readers who love it. I always remind myself when I disagree with a reviewer's take on a book that any review is only the opinion of one reader. And the most interesting discussions of books are those involving readers who see the book differently.

  3. Thank you for the honest review. I do like Scottish romance, but at times when a book becomes to far fetch I tend to roll my eyes and it almost feels as if I force myself to finish reading.

    Hmmm so I'm debating if I really want to read this or not. Thank you again for being honest :)

  4. Oh, I'm hoping this is a good one - I've so enjoyed her books! Thanks for the review.

  5. Thanks for the review, Janga. I've read Ranney in the past and enjoyed her but every author is going to have a book now and then that doesn't bring me reader satisfaction. I appreciate your honest thoughts on this one.

  6. Thanks for the review. I like her books. Yes, Highland romances can at times be a little heavy on the angst, but the heroes are usually worth it. I will read this one. Every once in a while I like to read something like this. Makes you appreciate the ones that you really like that much more.

  7. I enjoy Scottish romances and have enjoyed Karen Ranney's books in the past so I'm hoping this one will be right up there. Thanks for the review!

  8. This is what I love about TRD and it's guest reviews: honesty and no pulled punches no matter how much you personally like an author or her previous books. Thank you, all!

  9. I have read Karen Ranney’s novels for years. She is a terrific author with well-researched and interesting novels that grab you from the first page. I am lucky enough to also call her a good friend. I wish everyone knew what an amazing lady she is and the incredible life experiences she has had. The funny things she posts about her dog, Flash, never fail to give me a good laugh. If you’ve not had the chance to read her novels before, I hope you will do. In addition, check out some of her older ones too. Each and every one of them is terrific. Three cheers for a wonderful author and a lovely lady!