According to the legend of the MacCurries, the Brahan Seer foretold that “three generations of lairds will be born and die on the same date. That to the third laird will be born twin sons, who will lead the clan to war and then to fifty years of peace.” Now the seer’s predictions are coming true, and identical twins Neil and Jamie MacCurrie are both in awe and a little resentful of their pre-mapped destinies. It’s a time of great upheaval in Scotland as King James and his son-in-law, William of Orange, are locked in a power struggle. England has already accepted William, but will the Scots do the same? Dundee is trying to amass troops to restore King James and he has the support of the MacCurries and most of the other highland clans. Jamie MacCurrie sets out to attend the meeting of the clans at Dunfallandy masquerading as Neil, since Neil has problems of his own and is unable to attend.
Ellen Graham learns of her stepfather’s plot to assassinate her cousin Dundee and hastens to Dunfallandy to warn him. She’s attacked on the way, and Jamie comes to her rescue. He finds himself very attracted to this intelligent young woman with her reckless courage and excellent grasp of the current complicated politics. Ellen, too, likes and feels a little intimidated by this imposing highlander. Both of them know the futility of love in this atmosphere of war and so try to set aside their feelings. However, love cannot be denied and war cannot be postponed, even as death and danger begin to stalk Ellen. The couple face opposition on every front - her mother dislikes Jamie and his brother resents Ellen for unwittingly coming between the brothers. The war begins and the twins are in the thick of it. But the legend does not say that both the twins will return! Who will live and who will die? Will Ellen survive it all?
Author Kathleen Givens has chosen a very troubled period of Scottish history in which to set this decidedly engrossing and superb love story. That she does so with ease and magnificence only proves her knack as a very good writer. The characters are thoughtfully portrayed and the dialogue is crisp and clear. Through her lyrical and simple words, Ms. Givens brings to life the lochs and the crags, the sea and the ships, the lowlands and the highlands of Scotland. Real people from history put in an appearance, and the complicated politics, the internal strife and the overall terror is accurately and vividly captured and brought to life. The thoughts and struggles of the people involved, especially that of the twins in the face of their pre-mapped destinies and their gradually separating lives, is very moving. The love between Ellen and Jamie is based upon mutual respect and admiration and appears realistic, though a bit sudden. Everything except the ending is superb. In the end, some highly superfluous drama takes place that seems out of place for an otherwise sincere and poignant story. Some questions are left unanswered, some situations unresolved – most probably to be solved in the author’s next book.