A feisty heroine, a dashing Scotsman, a handsome megalomaniac villain and his idiot son, nonstop wit and laughter, and adventure. Roll all of these into one book and you will find Jane Carter Barrett’s Antonía Barclay and Her Scottish Claymore !
Antonía Barclay is not your average 16th century Scottish nineteen-year-old. As the beloved and only daughter of Lord and Lady Barclay, Antonía (pronounced Anto-NEE-a) has led a privileged life and yet she is not like her best friend, Claire, or other young noblewomen of the time. Although it is fact that she is the most beautiful woman in Scotland and from a family of wealth, she hates balls! And thanks to her three overbearing brothers, not only is she a fast runner, an even faster horseback rider, and extremely well-read, but she can also curse better than all three combined! She has a quick and sharp mind and is not afraid to use it. To top it all, she has just found out that she is the secret daughter of the imprisoned Mary Stuart, also known as Her Majesty Mary, Queen of Scots.
Determined to meet her biological mother and hopefully set her free, Antonía embarks on a dangerous journey to enemy England. Standing in her way, of course, is the handsome English genius and alchemist, Sir Basil Throckmorton. His nefarious plan, assisted (in the lightest sense of the word) by his incredibly stupid son, Rex, only begins with kidnapping Antonía. It is now up to her love, Breck Claymore, to prove he is as strong and reliable as the swords he makes in order to save her.
I cannot convey how much I loved and enjoyed this book! As a history buff and fan of the CW‘s Reign, how could I not read a book about a hidden daughter of Mary, Queen of Scots?! And her daughter (or I should say Jane Carter Barrett!) does not disappoint! Antonía is charming and stands on her own feet. Sure, she does need to be rescued by Claymore, but she more than holds her own against the Throckmortons and never relies solely on a rescue. She is also incredibly relatable: she makes mistakes, she acts rashly, she knows when she acted wrongly and looks for help, she sometimes downs full bottles of her father’s fine wine to suppress her sadness, and she has a best friend to push her in the pond to cure her hangover.
The other characters are also very well developed. Claymore is every bit the perfect prince charming: gorgeous, strong, protective, kind and loving, but he also respects and loves Antonía’s independence. The Throckmortons, especially Sir Basil, were always entertaining. The scenes and conversations between the three – Antonía, Sir Basil, and Rex – were some of the best parts of the book!
“You can marry me, or you can marry Rex.” He smiled, triumph in his dark eyes. “Hobson’s choice, Miss Barclay?”
“Wrong, Sir Basil,” she shot back. “A choice between fungible evils is called a dilemma.”
The Englishman stared at her in open admiration. “Good God! With your gift for the arts of language and my gift for the arts of everything else, our children shall be positively brilliant!” (pg. 213)
The only compliant I could possibly think of is that the back-and-forth kidnapping could be a bit too much, but the writing is so amazing that you won’t mind! Antonía Barclay and Her Scottish Claymore is the perfect historical fiction comedic adventure! Make sure you pick up a copy so you won’t miss these one-of-a-kind characters in an enthralling story!
“You are, indeed, stunningly beautiful,” Mary said. “Of the havoc-wrecking variety.” One corner of her mouth turned upward. “I can’t help but wonder what havoc it has already wrecked.” (pg. 125)
Twisted Talk: What makes a great villain? A great hero/heroine? Discuss below!