Mild Spoilers 😉
4 1/2 Stars
Moonstruck Madness is old school in a clichéd, but still an oh-so-perfect way. For the very reasons some reviewers dislike this book, I adore it. Written in 1977, Moonstruck Madness was Laurie McBain’s second and, in my opinion, her best book.
The heroine, Lady Sabrina Verrick watches on as the Scots lose at the bloody Battle of Culloden Moor. The eldest daughter of a deceased Scotswoman, and an itinerant English Marquess, she and her family are without resources. As she’s responsible for her two younger siblings, she packs them off to England to their absent father’s run-down estate. Her father is more interested in his young Italian bride than being responsible for his children. It’s up to Sabrina to figure a way to support her family.
The hero is His Grace, the golden-haired Lucien Dominick, Duke of Camareigh. When we first see him, he’s challenged to a duel by a young hothead. At dawn, he makes quick work of his opponent, displaying his sword-fighting talents.
Lucien’s face bears a dashing scar from when one of his cousins had cut his face as a child.
Speaking of Lucien’s cousins, they share a strange quasi-incestuous relationship and are the obvious villains of this book, conniving to have Lucien done away with and obtain the Dukedom. Lucien’s grandmother wants to see Lucien married and Lucien seems resigned to seek a wife, but certainly not one for love.
So Sabrina takes on the wild idea to become a highwayman. With the help of two burly locals, she takes on the name “Bonny Prince Charlie,” puts on a mask and hat, deepens her voice into husky timbre, wraps herself in a tartan, and holds up the rich nobles who travel the dark country roads in their coaches.
Lucien, after being robbed and taunted by the Bonny Prince, snares a trap to catch “him.”
I love how Sabrina and Lucien have a sword fight, Lucien gets the best of her, as he is the better swordsman. They engage in tender lovemaking; there is no force, no dominance. I’ve said before in other reviews, Laurie McBain might have been old-school, but she was never a bodice ripper author.
When it’s discovered Sabrina is pregnant, the Marquess, in a rage, whips her mercilessly, only for Lucien to put a stop to the brutality and carry her off in his arms.
That’s more or less the first 1/2 – 2/3 of this book.
Unfortunately in the second half, Sabrina and Lucien are at odds for too long. However, it does pick up towards the end as a search for hidden treasure brings them back together.
Final Analysis of Moonstruck Madness
I adored this book. the first time I read it, I was in my twenties and loved it. The second time, I was in my thirties and enjoyed it a little bit less, but still found it a thrilling read. As I said, the end falters a bit because the two stubborn hotheads are at odds for too long, nevertheless, this story was an entertaining, swashbuckling romance.