My rating: 4 of 5 stars
When I first read the blurb for Duet I was unsure of whether or not I wanted to read it. On one hand, I love Scottish history and music; on the other I’m not a giant fan of reincarnation and being lovers again and again over the centuries. However, I attended an author chat and the book sounded interesting enough to lure me out of my comfort zone. Also, I won the book during that chat, just to be transparent, though it has no impact on my review.
I am very glad I was lured out of my zone because I enjoyed this very much. It’s divided roughly in half with a slight edge going to Aillil and Malcolm’s life in the mid-eighteenth century. Malcolm is a quiet violinist and instructor who has seen the ugly side of what could happen to some with his sexual inclinations so he is very nervous about anyone even getting a hint that he is gay. He is hired to tutor the young sons of a Scottish laird.
Aillil, the eldest son and future laird, is not happy with this English tutor for his young brothers. Aillil is an angry man and it’s understandable. This is a time of English rule where the traditions of the Scots have been forbidden, including the wearing of tartan and playing of the pipes. Aillil flaunts both laws and does not want an Englishman living under his roof.
As events spool out, Aillil learns not all Englishmen are evil and Malcolm learns that under all the bluster and rage, Aillil is a decent man. The back cover blurb tells you that their blossoming love is doomed but that doesn’t make what happens any less painful to read. Just as they’re reaching a point of being happily in love, it ends with finality. Aillil, unable to deal with losing his ‘little fox,’ makes a deal with the druids, who have a way for him to wait through time until his love comes back to him. Aillil fades into the legend of the “Lost Laird” who haunts his father’s manor waiting for his lost love’s return, the only signs of him are the haunting strains of violin music Malcolm taught him to play.
Fast forward two centuries to present day and enter Billy Byerly, a concert violinist whose manager, Neil is a distant cousin to Aillil. He brings Billy to Scotland where his past life memories of being Malcolm start coming to life. Aillil’s frozen in time spirit becomes aware of his lover’s return but is druid magic enough to reunite the lovers once torn apart by death?
Like I said in the beginning, lovers being reborn and being lovers again isn’t usually my thing but it really worked for me here. Druid magic had a lot to do with that. I really liked Malcolm and Aillil and enjoyed this story greatly.
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