I’ve admittedly gone “backwards” in this series of the Westmoreland family, but it is so tremendous a series, so lovely a series, it matters not. Did I just write that? Me, the neurotic booklover, who points fingers and gasps when a person dares to read a series out of order? Yes, that me. I’ve trampled over my own rigidity to read this sumptuous story of English knight, Royce Westmoreland, aka, the Black Wolf and Lady Jennifer Merrick of Scotland.
This is the introductory book of the series and even with the knowledge of how the series comes to an end (I read out of sequence, remember?), I would have continued reading based upon the strength of this book alone! A Kingdom of Dreams sets the premise of loyalty, misconceptions and LOTS of heartache, but it indisputably brings forth the belief of true love.
In a misguided attempt at instilling peace between feuding kingdoms, Stefan Westmoreland kidnaps the daughters of Lord Merrick of Scotland. Jennifer, the elder, devoted, biological daughter and Brenna, her beautiful, younger step-sister, referred to as the Jewel of Scotland. Stefan dumps this boon onto the proverbial steps of his elder brother, Royce, the Earl of Claymore. Trying to capitalize off of a potentially explosive situation, abducting innocents is usually frowned upon, Royce quickly ascertains Jennifer to be the more cunning….definitely the more alluring. Headstrong and resilient, Jennifer is the more knowledgeable of Lord Merrick’s might. Royce bargains with Jennifer to reveal her father’s strategies, and while she provides some pertinent information, Jennifer is no novice (despite her tender age of 17). Once upon a time, you see, Jennifer dreamed of becoming the new laird of the castle upon her father’s death. A kingdom surrounded in peace and dedicated to the welfare of its clan. 15th Century Scotland, being what it was, denied those dreams and relegated them to fantasies. Determined to uphold her family’s honor and earn her dad’s confidence, Jennifer schemes an escape plan.
Jennifer’s quick thinking leads to ultimate success, she and Brenna manage to divert enough attention to break out of Sir Royce’s encampment, but it is short-lived. This and other diversionary tactics, while disgraceful to the Westmoreland guard, render Royce captivated. If Jennifer isn’t plotting another flight, she’s sewing shut the arm holes of Royce’s tunics and hose. The image of a proud Royce sliding his leg into the garment only to have it bunched at the knee drew gales of laughter from me and the knight himself. It’s the little vexes that both exasperate and forge a trust which develops into romance. It is the best!
Now Judith McNaught tantalizes us with lingering kisses and steamy love scenes that curl your toes, but any admirable love story is not without its heartache (a stomping, if you will). McNaught is a master at getting the reader to not only feel the couple’s pain, but almost absorb it on a visceral level. The hero and heroine must suffer great betrayals and humiliation before they’re granted their HEA. This is my fifth (5th) McNaught novel and she has never failed to make me swoon. And I mean swooooooooon….
In a twist of fate that binds Royce and Jennifer into unhappy wedlock, (I’m leaving out A LOT), our duo must dig deep to leave behind their recriminations and recall all the wonders that made them fall in love. Forced to choose between a clan that has finally accepted her as the treasure she’s always been, insert healthy dose of suspicion here, and the man who owns her heart and soul, it is….well, it’s taking a formidable amount of my own resolve not to spoil it all now! UGH…just you wait. Think of ME when you read the epic tournament scene. A Kingdom of Dreams is a dream of a love story come to life. Did I mention swooning? I’m rather prone to swooning….
There I go…..
There I go…..