Books should to one of these four ends conduce,
For wisdom, piety, delight, or use.
~SIR JOHN DENHAM
1. Though Jamie McKie appears on the cover, Leana McBride begins our story. What are your hopes for Leana by the end of the first chapter of Whence Came a Prince? And by the end of the tenth chapter? How might this story have unfolded if Leana had remained at Auchengray all along, rather than fleeing to Twyneholm? What if she’d stayed at Burnside Cottage instead of going home?
2. Though Jamie McKie’s affections are captured first by one sister, then by the other, he takes his time shifting allegiances. Do you sympathize with his struggles or find him fickle? Does Leana’s written entreaty—“Love my sister”—justify his actions? How would you explain Jamie’s turning his heart toward Rose once more?
3. Though wee Ian can only babble and wave his arms about, he is integral to this family’s story. How would you describe Leana’s relationship with her son? What of Rose’s bond with Ian? And Jamie’s, father to son? Did you find yourself wanting to care for Ian—or perhaps for your own child—while reading Whence Came a Prince? At what points in the story did your mothering urges surface?
4. How do marriage and impending motherhood help Rose mature? Leana tells her, “’Tis Jamie’s love for you and yours for him that make you fearless.” Do you agree? What else might make Rose fearless? If you’ve read Fair Is the Rose, how have your feelings toward her changed after reading this novel? From your viewpoint does Rose become a true heroine at the last?
5. In what way is Rose like her father, and how is she different? If Rose were your daughter, how might you have counseled her at the pivotal moment she is alone in the spence with Lachlan’s money box? What do you think of Rose’s solution for distributing the stolen gold? What would you have done with it? How might things have been different if Rose had told Jamie from the beginning?
6. The epigraphs that begin each chapter are meant to link the previous scene with the current one or to hint at what’s to come. In what ways do Sir Walter Scott’s words at the start of chapter 42 epitomize Jamie’s dilemma? Choose an epigraph that you especially like. How does that quote foreshadow the scene it introduces?
7. True to this period in Scottish history, religion plays a major role in the day-to-day lives of these Lowlanders. How would you define Leana’s relationship with God? What of Jamie’s faith? and Rose’s? Which one of the three most closely parallels your own spiritual journey? God promises, “I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” What evidence do you find of his steadfastness in this story?
8. Throughout much of the novel Leana finds herself in a very difficult situation, offering her sister loving support even as she, too, carries Jamie’s child. How would you characterize Leana—a role model? a martyr? a righteous woman? a fool? Do you empathize with her plight? What other options appropriate to the late eighteenth century might Leana have explored?