Wow, that is all I felt as I closed Surrender by Pamela Clare. When I’m in the mood for a historical romance than a Mackinnon story will definitely appease my hunger for it. With the first entry in this trilogy Pamela Clare became a name that has shot up to my top list of authors within this genre. As this author took me back to Albany on the Hudson River, Colony of New York in the year of 1755, I met the MacKinnon Rangers and a woman who could match their courage with that of her own.
I don’t think it is the essence of the story itself - a man and a woman meeting during war time and feeling an attraction - for this has been told a few times already. What latched me to the pages is the fact that from page one I utterly empathized with Annie and Iain, I needed them to survive it all, I felt the desperation, the secrets pressing between them and the almost hopelessness of Iain’s situation. Lord William Wentworth is largely, if not solely, responsible for the situation Iain and his brothers are in and it aims for a testosterone filled storyline. For the blue blood of English nobility led the people in this war who were the convicted, the poor and the commoners.
Annie is courageous, strong and intelligent and in a dire situation when she meets her savior Iain, who is chivalry, meets honor, meets highlander temperament. They both occupy this story in every way possible, first with their journey through the wilderness to end up in Fort Elizabeth. They are both characters who will adjust to a situation or way of life, not always because they want to, but because they need to. I like to read about characters who know grief and joy, defeat and victory, and pain and love. It draws me into their hearts and lives, living each moment with them as I hope to leave them in that ultimate happily ever after moment upon closing the book.
With Annie trying to make due in Fort Elizabeth there are inconsistencies in her character that does not only get noticed by Iain but also by Wentworth. This latter person confused me, he seems to play with lives as easily as he does with his chess pieces but at the same time holds a weird kind of honor code I did not always seem to grasp. Wentworth seems cold and has calculating ways, accustomed to hold sway over a person’s life. He plays with such a life like a predator with its prey and enjoys every moment of it, yet when his opponent surprises him it challenges his keen intellect even further. I really wanted to fiercely dislike him but by the end he somewhat humanized for me with certain actions and I can only guess – and secretly kind of hoping - he and his scheming ways are also a part of book two in this trilogy.
Every romantic vibe in my body has been wooed by Iain MacKinnon. He leads the Rangers with such responsibility, courage and sense of leadership. He is there for each of his men in word and deed, inspiring loyalty among his them and giving the reader an almost perfect picture of a hero. But there are no perfect heroes in my opinion because behind the hero image there is a man or a woman, and Iain has a few flaws/mistakes along the way that encourages growth from him.
Annie with her secrets and longing for a life of her own becomes the wild card in already a stirring time period. At first she survives purely on instinct and having the luck of Iain by her side. Slowly I got to see a woman who grows into her own potential, stronger, wiser and still remaining compassionate for those around her. You would almost think with so much horror surrounding a woman she becomes detached but through her own actions she gains the loyalty with the Rangers and ultimately the man she has set her heart on. With so much going against her at the beginning I loved to read the journey of Annie and the woman she turned out to be in the end.
Next to Annie, Iain and Wentworth there were also Morgan and Connor, Iain’s brothers, Captain Joseph and the Rangers Cam – Killie – McHugh – Brandon who also occupied Fort Elizabeth. They brought life to campfires under starry nights, they stood shoulder to shoulder in times of need and celebrated upon joyous occasions. They were an essential part of this story and gave it all the more substance for me to devour. Each held a voice of their own becoming a group that adds a distinguishing element to a MacKinnon Rangers novel.
One thing that I also noticed was the use of the highlander brogue in the language, it is very much a part of this story and it enhanced the overall feel of the story allowing the characters to come truly alive on the pages. Now I am a sucker for this kind of writing but for someone who is just starting to read English novels or for those who do not appreciate it, be warned! The “Nay, this not so” and “Wee bonny lass” language is frequently used throughout the entire novel.
From the blue Pamela Clare came – saw and concurred this reader with at the backdrop of a raging war, at a changing time period, it is Annie and Iain who became a beacon of all that everyone is fighting for. A historical romance story that will transfix many readers to the pages in an eagerness to find out what the ending will hold for this incredible love couple!
Annie about Iain:
He was a big man, a rough man, a man who lived by the sword. But he saved her life, shown her kindness, even compassion. He fought as the leader of a Ranger company. Yet his words were those of a traitor. There was something about him that frightened her, and yet…something drew her to him, as well.
Iain about Annie:
She was solace. She was beauty. She was life. And the wanted her.