The first volume in Brockway's new Rose Hunters trilogy, set in the early 19th century, spotlights Christian "Kit" MacNeill, a Scottish warrior of uncertain parentage who was trained in both the martial arts and the art of caring for roses. Kit meets Kate Blackburn when he and his two companions come to offer her family a pledge of service. The men feel obligated to Kate's father, who died rescuing them from a French prison, but Kate insists she has no need of a "hero." Three years later, when Kate is stranded en route to Scotland, MacNeill mysteriously appears to fulfill his oath. As the two make the difficult trek to Castle Parnell, where Kate hopes to appeal to a relative for financial support, the attraction between them simmers, but Kit remains keenly aware of his lower stature and his inability to provide Kate with a comfortable life. The one thing he can offer her is protection, which she discovers she needs when they reach Castle Parnell and find it seething with sinister plots involving murder and betrayal. Brockway (Bridal Favors , etc.) vividly describes the beauty of the Scottish landscape, establishing a strong sense of place. Although she tends to overstate Kit's masculinity, her dynamic characters and her ability to pull readers into the story through sensory details make this a well-crafted, engaging read. Agent, Damaris Rowland. (May)
Forecast: Although this book's contemporary-style cover—featuring a scantily clad woman lounging on a bed strewn with rose petals—is attractive, it does little to indicate that this is a Scottish historical, which may hurt, rather than help, sales.