Lady Elysande de Valance finds love in the arms of a Highlander in Lynsay Sands’ suspenseful 14th-century romance, Highland Treasure.
Elysande is the intelligent and beloved daughter of a wealthy family loyal to King Edward III. Though she’s lived in England all her life, Elysande’s Scottish-born mother, Lady Mairghread de Valance, Baroness of Kynardersley, has long maintained close ties with friends and families in the land of her birth. So when unexpected political intrigue lands the family in grave danger, Elysande places her hope in the most trustworthy men she knows.
Rory Buchanan is a renowned healer and the seventh son of the illustrious Buchanan clan. Although he’s generally loathe to spend any time in England, he makes an exception to cure ailing British aristocrats. The extravagant pay funds the work he does back home and helps him build the independent fortune he will need to secure his own way in the world as a younger son. When trouble strikes Elysande’s family, he has just finished treating an English baron and is well positioned to assist. Along with his brother Alick and several of their men from home, he commits to getting Lady Elysande and the critical cargo she carries to her Scottish kin.
But the mission is not as simple as it sounds. Intrigue swirls around them. Betrayal stalks them. It’s not always clear who’s a friend and who’s a foe, and Lady Elysande has been beaten so badly that when she and Rory first meet, she’s being carried in the back of a cart and wearing a full veil to obscure the damage done to her face. While the brutality of what she’s been through is disturbing, it’s also crucial to the story Sands is telling. Much like the infamous Red Wedding or Bran being thrown from the tower in “Game of Thrones,” what happens at Kynardersley (the de Valence’s family seat) animates everything that comes after. Elysande’s condition complicates an already physically grueling journey, and for a long time, no one, including Rory, can see what she really looks like.
This also allows the connection between Elysande and Rory to grow in a unique way. They’re attracted to each other through conversation and collaboration. They forge a mutually respectful alliance and, eventually, a strong emotional connection without the barrier or benefit of her looks. Elysande may start out as a damsel in distress, but she inspires admiration rather than pity from those around her. That said, some readers may be uncomfortable with how Elysande is fairly explicitly framed as “not like other girls,” and with the fact that her trauma is repeatedly referenced and discussed. Overall, though, Highland Treasure is a page-turning, propulsive and, at times, bloody historical romance.