Winters, Eden. “Duet”, Dreamspinner Press, 2013.
Finding True Love
Aillil Callaghan is Scotch and even though his family’s plaid is not to be worn, he does so openly as he waits for the time that his family name is restored, his lordship is returned to him and English tyranny is overthrown. His father has hired a tutor for his younger brothers and there is also something for Aillil to learn here as well. Malcolm Byerly, violinist and scholar has fled Kent in fear for his life and all that he really wants is a place as a tutor where no one can discover his secrets. When he took the position offered by Aillil’s father, he had not planned for his students’ older brother to be so enticing and both men’s love for music tore down the walls between them. They fall in love with each other and while Aillil’s father threatens to keep them apart, there are even more dangerous enemies working against them.
Some two hundred years later, Billy Byerly comes to the Callaghan castle and feels right at home. He hears the legends about a man named Aillil, a lost laird who haunts the place as he waits for his lover to return to him but Billy is realistic and level-headed and does not believe in the paranormal.
The 18th century Laird, the father of Aillil Callaghan hired Malcolm to teach his sons and certainly had no idea how this would affect this family. When the Jacobite revolt to restore the Stuarts to the British throne failed, the Scotch were in danger and the king outlawed anything (including the clans’ plaids) Scotch or Gaelic). Aillil defied that and proudly wore his tartan that was a reflection of who he was and it was an act of open defiance to English rule. Because Malcolm was British, Aillil openly hated what the man represented.
By an odd twist of fate, Aillil found himself in Malcolm’s rooms where he found the tutor playing his violin. Aillil is charmed by both the man and his music and convinces Malcolm to teach him to play the violin. Soon, the two men fell in love with each other and their destiny together meant that a life and love like this could not be. Yet, death was not able to destroy their love and some ancient power restores them but much, much later in history.
It has been quite a long time since my course in British history as an undergraduate and I was amazed at how much came back to me as I read. It is with skill that Winters has created the characters of Aillil and Malcolm and she presents two wonderfully drawn characters in them. Here is a story that shows that fate is just that, fate and it cannot be fought against. Beginning by sharing a love for the violin, the two men learned to love each other but this was inconsistent with the times. Malcolm soon died as a result of the fever that overtook England and all Aillil can think about is following him in death. When the ancient Druid religion offers him another chance at life, Aillil grabs it.
We move forward two centuries and American violin virtuoso, Billy Byerly, comes to do a concert at Callaghan Castle and strange things begin to happen to him. It began with his find of a violin in a shop in Edinburgh and then there strange melodies that he began to hear that he had never heard before and he is able to play them perfectly. At the same time, Billy’s dreams are disturbed by the figure of a young man wearing a kilt and who seems familiar and he begins to understand that old legends are based upon truth and that it is Aillil who has come to him after two hundred years of waiting to do so. Winter magically uses music as the conduit for emotions, magic and memory and it is music that restores Malcolm (as Billy) to Aillil. Here is a wonderful love story that spans time and place and that contains history and contemporary living.