Wild Wind In The Heather by Valentina Luellen
Wild Wind in the Heather
By Valentina Luellen
Published by Mills & Boon London Limited (1983)
Wild Wind in the Heather was set in 18th century Scotland during the Jacobite Rebellion (which ended with the disastrous Battle of Culloden). Combine that with the infamous feud between the clans Campbell and MacDonald, and you get one of the most tragic and heart-wrenching love story I ever read (to date).
It was over 50 years after the infamous massacre of the MacDonalds by the Campbells in Glen Coe, but the scar remained between the two clans – they continued to hate and harbour suspicions towards each other. Catriona Campbell was raised in an atmosphere of hatred towards the MacDonalds, and she was so afraid if she ever meet one of them while out riding.
One day, an injured MacDonald girl was found by her brother James and his men not far away from their territory. Catriona insisted that James brought the girl home so that her wound could be tended to. James had always loved Catriona very much that he will never say no to Catriona's requests. Eventually they brought home the injured MacDonald. The presence of a MacDonald under his roof has enraged Catriona’s father Fergus Campbell, the Laird of Darna.
The Laird had always hated Catriona. He had wanted three sons; he had James first, and followed by Murdoch. The third birth was Catriona, but Fergus had initially hoped that the next child would be a boy. Unfortunately, his wife died after giving birth to Catriona and that was enough reason for Fergus to resent Catriona’s existence. Fergus intended to marry off Catriona to the lecherous womaniser Andrew Fraser so that she will stay away from the family home.
The arrival of the MacDonald girl had further angered Fergus, adding on to the resentment he had towards his daughter. But he would not do any much further for he loved James as much as he hated Catriona. The Laird eventually allowed the injured MacDonald to remain in his home to receive health treatment until she was fit enough to leave. Nevertheless, the girl, Kirsty MacDonald, had apparently forged an ill-conceived relationship with her rescuers during the short period of time. Kirsty and Catriona became friends, and she and James managed to fell in love with each other.
***WARNING!!! SPOILERS BEYOND THIS LINE!!!***
During the night of Catriona’s betrothal ball, Kirsty’s two brothers Rorie and Donald arrived at the Campbells’ doorstep with their troops to claim her. The MacDonalds arrived in such cold fashion that they believed Kirsty was being held ransom, or otherwise already dead under the treatment of the Campbells. They were surprised to see her alive and well. In spite of that, Rorie, Donald and James continued to fling barbs towards each other. The hostility and suspicions towards men from the other clan could not be erased as quickly. But they had restrained from physical assault due to their arrival during Catriona’s betrothal ball and goodwill out of gratitude for the Campbells taking care of Kirsty.
Meanwhile, also during that same night, Rorie and Catriona had felt a strange feeling of attraction towards the other despite the bitter enmity between the two clans, and despite their brief encounter. The subtle feeling was sensed by both Fergus and James, and Fergus made himself very clear that Catriona would marry Andrew, no matter what. On the part of James, he would not want Catriona to marry Andrew because he knew his sister will never be happy with that man.
Not long after, Kirsty ran away from the MacDonalds to be with James. James had married Kirsty without Fergus’ approval, but the Laird resigned to James’ decision because of his love for his son.
Meanwhile, war with the English was looming as the Scots planned to march against the English to claim the throne from King George II. Fergus personally wanted his sons to support King George II and not Charles Stuart, but James and Murdoch wanted otherwise. They had an argument, but then Fergus – who hated Catriona to his last breath – used Catriona to bend James to his will. Fergus promised to break Catriona’s betrothal to Andrew Fraser if James agree to fight alongside the English in the upcoming war. Although personally he felt right to support the Scots’ cause, James agreed to be on the side of the English during the war. James was willing to sacrifice anything for his only sister. Not long after that, Fergus passed away. Catriona’s betrothal to Andrew Fraser was cancelled, and James and his men joined the English during the war.
Meanwhile, with Kirsty as her sister-in-law, Catriona met Rorie from time to time, but their relationship had been tempestuous. One moment they wanted each other, another they would exchange barbs when they misunderstood the other’s actions. With James siding with the English and Rorie with Charles Stuart – not to mention the mistrust between the Campbells and MacDonalds – political argument between Catriona and Rorie was inevitable.
Eventually the war became dire for the Scots – the clans retreated back to the Highlands, but the English troops continued to pursue them. Clansmen were practically slaughtered by the English – whether they were fighting against the English or not. Those claiming to support the English were also not spared, thus the Campbells were in danger all the same. Murdoch died at the battlefield, while Rorie and Donald were injured. James was forced to see all the atrocities committed against his fellow Scotsmen, and he could not go on with the battle. James also retreated.
One fateful night, pro-English troops barged into the Campbells’ residence after suspecting Catriona and Kirsty of sheltering retreating Scots. Indeed, Rorie and a seriously injured Donald had sought refuge at the Campbells’ place during their escape. Catriona had thought that they will be safe because James was fighting alongside the English, but soon realized that the Campbells were not spared.
The troop, which was helmed by Andrew Fraser, came barging into the house demanding the women of the house to surrender Rorie and Donald. James was with Andrew, but he was bound and treated like a traitor – James had refused to commit atrocities towards his fellow Highlanders and had been deemed unsuitable to carry on as an English troop. James was to be taken as prisoner, would be tried and if found guilty will be hanged. With James’ position as a traitor towards the English, the Campbell household was doomed after all.
Chaos ensued in the Campbell house, and Kirsty got killed by a stray bullet. James went amok and killed a bunch of Andrew Fraser’s men. Rorie also duelled with Andrew Fraser and managed to kill him. After the confrontation with Andrew Fraser’s troop was over, James instructed Catriona to escape with Rorie and Donald, as more English troops will surely hunt them all. The Highlands are not safe anymore. As for himself, he would want to fight the English to his end. James was adamant that with Kirsty gone, he had nothing else to live for – so he might as well fight the English to his death. Donald, who was seriously injured and could hardly walk, also insisted to stay and fight the English alongside James, as his injury might impede Catriona’s and Rorie’s escape.
With much despair, Catriona had to leave his beloved brother James behind, with almost no hope of seeing him ever again. Rorie also had to leave behind his injured brother Donald, not mentioning witnessing the killing of his beloved sister Kirsty earlier. The war had actually united the two feuding families, albeit in a most tragic fashion. With James’ blessing, Catriona took a ship with Rorie and escaped to France. Rorie promised Catriona that he would bring her back to Scotland someday in the future to show their children what Scotland is like.
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