A feast of scotch--full-regalia melodramatics that go down like a gallon of Glenlivet: this second volume in the Regiment Quartet continues the story as before, deftly folding large daubs of manor-house plot in with action in the field, plus a soupcon of Regency impishness. Last year's The MacLarens got us--and the Highland clan--through the Sepoy rebellion, then off to China and back to India. Now the haft-breed daughter of Maud Bruce, Naomi, has grown up and is, at 25, living with her stepfather Willie Bruce, the illegitimate MacLaren who has taken over command of the regiment from Andrew MacLaren. Andrew lost a leg in action and cannot bear to be seen on a pegleg in Highlander kilts, so he has given the regiment to his half-brother. Poor Naomi begins living many of her mother's problems all over again, the worst being that she cannot marry into the MacLarens (despite her love for young Ian, five years her junior, whom she beds) because of her mixed blood. Bruce's son Donald is being groomed for eventual command of the regiment, but when he cannot bring himself to cry Fire!. during a firing-squad execution, Donald's resolve breaks and he tries to resign his commission. Sent into the field anyway, he distinguishes himself gallantly, is put up for a Victoria Cross--and deserts on the battlefield. Five years later Iris father finds and arrests him, and Donald is court-martialed. Will he be executed? Rich family romance, shrewdly plotted, with bloodcurdling African action against the Mahdi up north and later the Boers down south.