Rebellion is one of only a couple of historical romances that Nora Roberts has written. She is much better known for her contemporary novels or when writing as her alter ego, J D Robb, for her futuristic crime stories. This book could almost be regarded as a prequel to Roberts' MacGregor series as this story features members of the MacGregor clan at the time of the second Jacobite Rebellion.
Coll MacGregor returns home to Scotland following a stay in Paris accompanied by his friend, Brigham Langston, Earl Ashburn, and an Englishman. Brigham is a Jacobite and, along with Coll, is preparing to gather the loyal clans to fight for Bonnie Prince Charlie. However, he hadn't anticipated his reaction to Serena MacGregor, Coll's hot tempered sister, who despises all things English, including Brigham. Although the rest of the MacGregor clan accept Brigham as an ally in their fight for the Stuart cause, Serena is reluctant to admit she feels anything but contempt for this tall, attractive Englishman.
This book was printed in the late 80s and is out of print but used copies are available through Amazon Marketplace from 1p.
Nowadays, Nora Roberts is regarded as the number one romance novelist and a consummate storyteller. She has an innate ability to describe every woman's ideal man and her hero in this book is no different in that respect . However, the book was written in the early years of her writing career and, if nothing else, it demonstrates how far she has come in the intervening years.
I enjoy a good historical romance novel from time to time and although this genre tends to concentrate on the relationship between the hero and heroine, a well written romance, in my opinion, should also incorporate accurate historical detail which firmly sets the time and place. Any romance author setting a novel in a certain time period surely owes it to their readers to at least do some basic research to ensure they don't make too many glaring errors.
Anyone expecting any deep historical detail from this story will, I'm afraid, be sadly disappointed. It's pretty clear from the beginning of the book that Ms Roberts' knowledge of British history and the Jacobite Rebellion in particular, is fairly limited and the time period is merely used as a plot device to introduce conflict between the main protagonists in what is essentially a very basic love story.
That being said, it is an enjoyable love story, albeit long on romance and short on historical accuracy. This is a book I would definitely put into the light and fluffy historical romance category.
Nora Roberts' characterisation is not exactly on form here either, particularly with regard to the heroine. In Serena, she has created a typical historical romance heroine as depicted in books published in the 1980s: she's feisty, hot tempered and beautiful. Of course, she also has the obligatory red hair, just in case any reader hasn't figured out just how hot tempered she is! We're also supposed to believe that she's a lady but given the number of times during the course of this story that she kicks and punches people, especially our English hero, not to mention biting, I seriously have my doubts about her breeding. The reason given for her intense hatred of the English is that when she was a child, she witnessed her mother being attacked and raped by a group of Redcoats and this has coloured her opinion of every Englishman ever since. However, it only takes a few pages of this novel before Brigham has her falling for him, despite his nationality.
Brigham is much more my cup of tea. He's dashing and handsome (of course) and enigmatic too. He's loyal to the Jacobite cause although he is painted as being just about the only English Jacobite and his espousal of the cause is explained away by his Scottish ancestry. Brigham seems to have a presentiment that all will not go well with this latest attempt to overthrow the Hanoverian king so one wonders why he ever embarked on such a project in the first place. Despite his high political ideals, Brigham is obviously a chap that's easily swayed by a pretty face because I can't imagine any man being attracted to an immature, termagant such as Serena otherwise. However, this book having been written almost twenty five years ago, he's very much a masterful alpha male and soon has Serena eating out of his hand as well as rolling in the heather!
The secondary characters are mainly members of the MacGregor clan, their servants and the odd British soldier, all of whom are somewhat two dimensional, especially those characters who would be regarded as the wicked English, with the exception of Brigham, of course!
As you've probably gathered, I wasn't too impressed by this book. This was written at the beginning of Nora Roberts' writing career and it really shows. It's lacking a depth of detail that a subject such as the Jacobite Rebellion deserves. It would seem from this book that the 1745 Rebellion was the brainchild of Bonnie Prince Charlie, the MacGregors and Brigham Langston, being blindly followed by every able bodied Scotsman in the Highlands with no regard for the fact that the Jacobite Rebellion was not predicated on Scotland against England and neither was Bonnie Prince Charlie a particularly heroic figure.
I think it's fair to say that it's well documented that there were as many Scots who were pro-Hanoverian as there were English who were Jacobites and the Jacobite cause, although centred in Scotland, was espoused by people on both sides of the border and as far south as Essex. Jacobites felt a loyalty to the continuance of the Stuart line rather than being influenced along nationalistic or religious lines. Nora Roberts has used the many highly romanticised myths which surround this period, plus a healthy dose of Robert Louis Stevenson, without doing any real research at all it seems. This is very much history American style!
Sorry! I'll get off my historical soap box now.
If you're looking for an "I hate you, I love you" kind of romance, and are prepared to overlook some glaring historical innacuracies, you may well enjoy this book. Sadly, I didn't. I'm very pleased to say that Nora Roberts saw the error of her ways and has steered well clear of the historical romance genre ever since. She's much better at the contemporary stuff and even better at writing futuristic crime.
For me, this book was a real turkey!