REVIEW of From Ash and Stone by Julie Daines

From Ash and StoneSix years ago, Lady Margaret Grey had everything taken from her. On one dark night, her home was burned to the ground, her family was murdered by border reivers, and a mysterious curse was placed upon her that gives her unwanted perception and unbearable pain. After scraping by on the streets of sixteenth century London, Margaret has returned to what’s left of her home, determined to discover the identity of the man who organized the raid and to execute vengeance on him no matter the cost.

When a sturdy laird saves Margaret from a band of ruffians, she refuses to tell him her name or where she hails from. But Angus Robson is nothing if not persistent. With the help of his mute brother Gillis, Angus provides food, shelter, and protection for Margaret. He draws the line at helping her exact vengeance, however, and Margaret becomes increasingly frustrated by his attempts to thwart her. She doesn’t mind that she’ll be hanged, drawn, and quartered after her plan succeeds, but it turns out that Angus minds that fact very much. When Margaret runs afoul of the crooked King’s Warden, even Angus is hard pressed to save her, and it looks like her curse may remain unlifted as her quest goes unfinished.

Set during the reign of Henry VIII, this book was a tumultuous ride along the wilds of the Scottish border. I have always been interested in the lawless reivers, pirates who preyed on the sheep and cattle of their neighbors, burning, raiding, and killing Scots and English indiscriminately. The fast pacing of this book showed the dangers of the period, although Margaret did seem to lead a charmed life that resulted in Angus happening by every time she got in over her head.

In this novel, Angus Robson is a man who cares for his own with fidelity and constancy, but he’s also no milksop when it comes to a midnight melee. His father is a harsh man, blaming Angus for the death of Angus’ older brother. But even as Angus tries to live up to his father’s expectations, he also continues to have a soft heart toward the helpless. As a damsel in distress, Margaret’s green eyes and long black hair draw Angus like a moth to a flame. But Margaret is consumed by her hatred, refusing to consider any thoughts of romance when her family still goes unavenged. In the end, she must break the vicious cycle of vengeance, learning that mercy is a gift more to herself than to her adversary.

Margaret’s curse brings an element of the paranormal into the book. It added an interesting twist to the book, although it did seem a little too tidy the way that the curse was resolved. All in all, this was a good romance and a page-turning adventure making me interested to read more by Julie Daines.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions expressed in this review are my own. 


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