Lady Valeria McEcheran is dying. The
Scottish townsfolk think her a witch. Her three grandsons
don't know what to make of her…talented but delusional
storyteller or really one of the last of a long line of
powerful seers? Before she passes, she has a message for
each of her grandsons. James Burnett, the story's widowed
hero, is told his future bride is in danger and he must find
her before she dies.
Jump forward three months. James has
inherited his grandmother's second sight, a particularly
trying gift, but something he has so far ignored. After he
catches a glimpse of his grandmother's disapproving face in
the mirrored ceiling tiles while trying to have sex with a
high-end prostitute, James gives up both whiskey and women.
Setting his sights on finding the woman he's dreaming about
– Faith McBride, his former fiancée-James uses his
considerable railroad baron money to track her down.
The task isn't a difficult one. Not one
of the privileged class, Faith McBride, doesn't have a lot
of options available to her. Currently, she's a teacher at
girls' school, teaching foreign history. When she stumbles
upon a photo of a woman who looks like an older version of
herself in her father's belongings, she begins to question
everything her father told her about her mother and her
genealogical background. Unfortunately, her snooping is
going to lead her into the danger James has foreseen.
I'm not a diehard historical reader so
I cannot tell you if Ms. Thornton's writing is historically
accurate nor am I one of those readers who is jarred out of
the story by a historical inaccuracy, unless it's a glaring
one. What I can tell you is that the plot unspools at a
leisurely pace, gently tugging the reader along like a leaf
drifting downstream. It isn't one of those books I'd re-read
or return to again and again, but nor is it something I
wouldn't recommend. (And I am looking forward to reading
about the second grandson, Alec, in his own book.) I am
disappointed none of the Scottish gentlemen make an
appearance in a kilt. What is a Scottish romance without a
kilt-clad hero? (Though I could have lived without the
Scottish burr making an appearance in the first chapter).
Kidding aside, one plot detail that did
really bother me was how such a simple thing as a lack of
communication estranged Faith and James in the first place.
Engaged after three months of courting, the pair were
separated when James has to return to Scotland to take care
of some business problems. Faith gets word that James is
engaged to his childhood sweetheart; she travels to Scotland
to verify this and instead of meeting James, runs into the
presumed fiancée. Faith actually believes the woman's lies
and flees. James, who has a considerable amount of wealth,
never pursues her. He just assumes that she ran off with
another man. Whoa. One would think a little investigating
would have been done, if Faith was really his one true love,
the light of his life, yadda, yadda. But nope. James marries
his conniving lady who dies shortly thereafter. And Faith,
who never ran off with another man in the first place,
becomes a teacher.
The mystery surrounding Faith's family did intrigue me.
Everyone is a suspect. There's a nice handful of murders,
villains disguised as cops, an eccentric group of people
obsessed with Egyptian history, and a cast of mostly
well-drawn and interesting secondary characters. Like
chicken noodle soup on a bleak day, The Runaway
McBride is a gentle, comfort read. No explicit sex,
no horribly graphic murder details, an intelligent heroine,
an alpha hero, and a detailed villain (though the amount of
effort the villain invests doesn't seem quite on par with
the actual secret, but to each his own). It's a novel I'd
feel comfortable sharing with my grandmother, a co-worker,
or a casual acquaintance.