Tracy’s rating: 3 of 5 stars
Series: Sons of Scotland, #3
Release Date: February 16, 2021
The saga of Thomas Annesley, Baron Annesley, and the Lord of Darlyrede continues; when he is forced to flee the Highlands to avoid capture. He signs on to a ship and is left for dead when he fails to return to the ship after delivering cargo to the isolated Island of Caedmaray in the Western Isles. This is where Thomas Annesley dies and is reborn as Tommy Boyd. It is on this isle that Tommy meets and marries Jessie Boyd and becomes a humble fisherman and fathers yet another son; Padraig.
But his peaceful life comes to an end when he is taken into custody by Sir Lucan Montague. Lucan takes Tommy to London to answer for his many crimes, crimes that started 30 years ago with the murder of his betrothed, Cordelia Hargrave – a crime he adamantly denies committing. After spending time with Tommy and learning his side of the story, Lucan comes to believe him, and when Tommy once again escapes. This series starts when Lucan sets out once again to find him, but this time he helps Tommy’s sons along the way – this story is how he helps Padraig – Tommy’s only legitimate son lay claim to Thomas Annesley’s title and his estate – Darlyrede. But this will not be a simple case of walking in and claiming his birthright – the King will decide and since the death of Thomas’ parents many years ago – Lord and Lady Hargrave have lived at Darlyrede, first as Thomas’ guardian and later as grieving victims of Thomas’ supposed murder of their daughter. Now Vaughn Hargrave has been ordered to share the keep with Padraig until the King decides who is entitled to the holding. But Padraig is not just looking to claim the property – he is looking to clear Thomas’ name. A task that Lord Hargrave will thwart at every possible turn. While his task seems hopeless, Padraig will find an ally in Lady Hargrave’s maid, Beryl – who has her own reasons for being at Darlyrede and is not who/what she pretends to be. Together, they will have to sift through the secrets and lies to find the truth, but will they be prepared for what they find?
This book was definitely not what I was expecting and was by far the darkest of the series to date. It is well written and fast-paced, but it is not a romance – it is more of a dark mystery or thriller. I liked Padraig and Beryl/Iris, but I couldn’t tell you when or why they fell in love – the focus of the story was just not on their relationship – it was on the mystery of what really happened the night Cordelia was killed and Thomas fled. The book is on the darker side and has a definite “gothic” feel, a lot is going on and there are so many secrets, lies, surprises, twists, and revelations that you don’t even notice that the “romance” novel you are reading doesn’t have any romance until you get to the very end of the book. And while many things are resolved in this book, Thomas’s story is clearly not over and the author leaves us with a final scene that will have you wondering what is going to happen next! If I was rating this book strictly as a romance, I would give it 2 stars, but if I was rating it as a mystery, I would give it 4 stars, so I am going to split the difference and give the book a solid 3-star rating and will definitely be keeping my eyes open for the next installment. This is the third book in the series and while you could read this as a standalone title, I would strongly recommend reading the books in order for the best reader experience.
*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an eARC that I requested and was provided to me by the publisher. All opinions are my own *