A Promise of Love (1997) by Karen Ranney
Plot: Set three years after Culloden, circa 1749, Judith Cuthbertson is widowed for the second time at the age of 24. To get rid of her once and for all, her uncaring father sells her to a member of clan MacLeod. Uprooted to the Scottish Highlands, she is married to the cheftain of MacLeod but she cannot escape reminders of her abusive second marriage. This book stands on its own and is not part of a series.
First of all, a warning to those Gentle Readers (you know who you are). This is a very violent novel, mostly because the villain is one of those sadistic rapists/killers, straight out of a Diana Gabaldon work, and his crimes are described in graphic detail.
With its post-Culloden setting and story-telling hero and all those rapes, I was reminded of the Outlander series a lot reading this book. And as with the Outlander books, my feelings for A Promise of Love are pretty similar — I like the prose, like the writer’s voice, am indifferent to the Scottish settings and characters, and am not engrossed enough emotionally with the H/H to not mind the graphic violence occurring too frequently for my taste.
I am not that familiar with Karen Ranney. This is the third book I have read of hers, after Till Next We Meet (B+) and Tapestry (her first novel which I would grade a B) and these other two Ranney books werent as violent. She was recommended to me when I asked for an angsty author on the AAR boards, a la Mary Jo Putney (whom I dont read anymore). I think vintage Patricia Gaffney and Madeline Hunter are closer to Putney’s style if someone were to pose the same question to me. Ranney’s tone is almost unrelentlessly depressing at times. I think she is one of those authors I can take only in small doses, otherwise I might be tempted to commit seppuku (Japanese ritual suicide). I will read her again though. Probably in a year or two.