“LADY OF THE LAKES: The True Love Story of Sir Walter Scott — A Historical Proper Romance,” by Josi S. Kilpack, Shadow Mountain, $15.99, 338 pages (f)
It was love at first sight for 19-year-old Walter Scott when he saw Williamina Stuart at a Scottish church in the 1790s.
From there, Utah author Josi S. Kilpack weaves a historical tale in “Lady of the Lakes,” a novel based on the romantic and poetic Walter’s hopes for a relationship with Mina, despite their differences in society’s class structure. Walter writes her letters and arranges to see her when her family is in town. Mina struggles to fulfill her parents’ expectations and follow her heart, especially when she meets another young man, William Forbes.
As Mina works to sort out and share her feelings, Walter embarks on publishing “Translations and Imitations of German Ballads” and finds some success.
Also part of the story of “Lady of the Lakes” is Charlotte Carpenter, a Catholic-born Frenchwoman whose family history includes a scandal that follows her. Charlotte is grateful for those who have helped her but wants to find some way to be independent. She is also practical in her expectations for love and marriage.
While on a trip in the lake country, her path crosses with that of Walter and his brother and friend. Walter, still nursing the sting of rejection, finds he might be ready to open his heart again. However, he’ll need to convince Charlotte of his intentions and sincerity.
Kilpack has taken a series of historical events and created a clean and interesting love story that shares the challenges of romance — love at first sight or love that will endure. Kilpack includes much-appreciated chapter notes to distinguish between the accepted facts and the fictional portions in the novel, along with a timeline of events in Walter’s life as a Scottish playwright, poet and historical novelist.
She also highlights the cultural context of class structures, Scottish clans and society’s prejudices that played into the lives of Walter, Mina and Charlotte.
There is no foul language or violence and the described romance stays within the culture of the time and doesn’t go beyond a few stolen kisses.
Kilpack is also the author of "Forever and Forever: The Courtship of Henry Longfellow and Fanny Appleton" and the Sadie Hoffmiller Culinary Mystery series. Her Regency romance “Lord Fenton’s Folly” received a Whitney Award for “Best Novel of the Year.” The Whitney Awards recognize novels by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.