This was a short story set in the Scottish Highlands in the late thirteen hundreds, written by an American author. Therein lay the problem – lack of research.
We have two men after one girl, Airin. The one who finds the brooch that belonged to her great-grandmother will have her hand in marriage. One of the men, Jason, is her late sister's husband, the other is Deryll, the handsome, manly, dashing and infamous Scarlet Knight. It seems a simple and indisputable way to find a husband. Things get somewhat messy when murder, unscrupulous sheriffs, soppy puppy-eyed minstrels and good old-fashioned skulduggery get in the way. Who will find the brooch, who will win the virgin, Airin's, hand and ….. is it really great-grandmamma's brooch?
The story is well structured and well balanced – it's neat and tidy, no loose ends are dangling at the end. Deryll is attractive in a little-bit-of-a-naughty-chap sort of way. Airin is a spunky maiden and even in the 1300s women didn't like to be pushed around, it seems!
So, so far so good.
What I didn't like was that the author tried to add a little dashing derring-do flavour by using some Olde English words and phrases – but only a few and were therefore a little incongruous. The dialogue was neither one thing or another. There was rather an incessant and rather irritating use of 'gaze'. Not one character looked or saw – the gaze shifted or dropped or sharpened (sharpened??). This was rather tedious.
There were a number of editorial oversights and the author might like to know that 'bullocks' are young steer. If you want to use the British slang for the man's 'crown jewels' the word you need is 'bollocks'.
The story needs more than a lick and a promise – it needs a good dust and polish.