Onyx, May 2002, 5.99, 354 pp.
In 1599 accompanied by his brother, Drummond Graham insists that he visits the Main Isle of the Shetland Islands in order to purchase wool. Drummond actually has a hidden agenda involving claiming his legacy from the brutally vicious Patrick Stewart, the Earl of Ornkey and Laird of the Shetland Isles.
Widow Gemma Sinclair, companion to Patrick's wife, has the uncanny ability to talk with her horse Ting. When Drummond arrives, Gemma offers to escort him around the isle though she does not trust the handsome outsider. He reciprocates her feeling of mistrust. As they become acquainted an attraction erupts between them that neither wants. However, when he saves her life, Drummond handfasts with Gemma because he loves her and wants to share the truth with her even as he knows her loyalty must be to his enemy who holds her uncle hostage.
The late sixteenth century tour of the Shetland Isles is beautifully rendered providing a vivid anchor to the story line. The lead couple is a delight as individuals, but somehow never spark as a couple. The side tales starring the ponies are quite charming though one must ponder the horse logic that filters the narratives. Janet Lynnford furbishes a picaresque historical romance with the emphasis on the intrigue and life of the bygone era, which turns the love story into more of a subplot.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner