This is the second book in Harlequin’s Lochmore Legacy series and Lara Temple has now taken us back 26 years from Janice Preston’s His Convenient Highland Wedding. Preston’s novel had set up the story of the feuding clans, the Lochmores and the McCrieffs, and had introduced the central mystery of the brooch found amongst a pile of bones, somehow linking the two families way back in history. Temple’s novel now gives us the love affair of Benneit, the Duke of Lochmore, and the widowed Joane Langdale, brought to Lochmore as a companion for the Duke’s young son. The fact that we’ve already met these characters, albeit 26 years older, in Preston’s novel means that there’s an added frisson to watching them first meet and fall in love.
Joane, or Jo as she is known in this second novel, is a delightfully intelligent woman who has learned to keep her feelings hidden and who is regarded as a poor relation by the family of Lochmore’s first wife. Lochmore is also a widower, and has decided that he must marry Tessa, the daughter of Lord McCrieff, in order to bury past antagonisms and also to gain support for his business ventures. Like Lachlan McNeill in the first instalment of the series, Benneit is determined to stabilise his family’s fortune and help the tenants on his land avoid the impact of the Clearances. He does not, however, bank on falling for the subtle charms of the grey-eyed Jo. Their relationship builds steadily, but is faced with enough obstacles to mean that I ended up abandoning any attempt at getting work done, so caught up was I in their developing romance. Temple is a master of her craft.
Theirs is not the only central relationship in the novel – Temple has put Lochmore’s son, Jamie, centre stage and she’s captured the mercurial moods of a four-year-old perfectly. Jamie forms a quick bond with Jo, and their scenes together are lovely,
‘You can’t scold if your eyes are laughing, Jo.’
It was such an adult, perceptive things for a boy of four to say she could not help laughing.’
Lochmore’s love for his young son is also made very evident – I enjoyed going back to the first novel again to remind myself how their relationship has played out 26 years later when Jamie has grown up to become the explorer he was always destined to become.
This develops the story set up in His Convenient Highland Wedding brilliantly, filling in some of the family history and giving us a little more about the tomb with the broken lid in the crypt that first Flora and now Jo have found,
‘… there is no body there and the matching brooch was missing. They were taken during a battle with the McCrieffs hundreds of years ago, but nobody knows where or why.’
Temple has given us a tale that ticks all the boxes for an excellent historical romance – I was utterly caught up in Jo and Benneit’s story. I’m very much looking forward to jumping further back in this fascinating series, all the way to 1513, and getting closer to knowing more about the mysteriously empty tomb, with Elisabeth Hobbes’ A Runaway Bride for the Highlander.