Length, laziness and/or problems meeting the deadline killed this short story, originally published as part of The Mammoth Books of Scottish Romance. Quite frankly, it’s an embarrassment to the author as I suspect Ms. Barbosa is capable of producing something of much higher quality.
We witness little of the requisite growth of affection between the main characters nor enough endearments to seduce readers into believing in their burgeoning but ultimately contrived relationship. Time spent together on stage is short and therefore gives the impression that any and all relationship progress is insanely rushed.
Poor structure sees us meet the characters after Duncan catches Reva/Jamie during a raid on his homestead and both feel attraction at first sight. He holds her hostage hoping to loosen her tongue with kindness so she’ll spill the names of the other raiders. Jump 6 weeks into the future, they have a one night stand with I Love Yous after which the heroine escapes captivity only to be reunited with Duncan two months later, rounded off with a happy ever after.
Strangely, Duncan didn’t feel lied to, used and abandoned when Reva distracts him with sex to escape. Being a virgin apparently gave her a Get Out of Jail free card. Her excuse was her heritage. As a member of the family that slaughtered his kin and injuring himself in battle, Reva/Jamie believed he’d never accept her or stop hunting her fellow raiders and family members – his mortal enemies. Understandable.
Duncan claims he’ll overcome his grudge for the love of his good woman. I would’ve loved to have been in his head when faced with those who’d killed his father and stolen his livestock. Swallowing those insults to his honour would be painfully challenging.
Described events between the two families are actually based on real Scottish history, if not these characters or their romance. Normally, this would garner my favour not only for the story but for the author as too many fail to do a little research for their books. It’s a shame The Reiver was so underdeveloped as it had the potential to be something more.