A darling of a first novel with a heroine, Kirstie Drummond, who's so infectiously spirited that she's almost as irresistible to the reader as she is to every man in the Lowlands in 1860. Kirstie runs away from her rigid Conventicle grandparents--to her protectress, Lady Draco, the ancient ""Dragon"" of Glendraco Castle. The Dragon takes her on for unknown reasons having to do with Kirstie's grandpa, James Drummond, who went mad and drowned himself at sea. Every man who meets Kirstie falls violently in love with her in a way suited to his character: some slobber foolishly, some propose, one tries to rape her in a crofter's hut, another attempts to abduct her in a forced marriage, and a third endeavors to set her up as his mistress. She likes all of them immensely until they reveal their true nature but naturally falls for the only one she can't have. Meanwhile, variona no-goods are trying to kill Kirstie with avalanches and horseback accidents, but she doesn't let that, or assaults on her reputation, cramp her style. And the mystery behind Grandpa's suicide drives her further into danger until we find her naked and spreadeagled in the slums of Glasgow, being inspected by a prospective ""John""--quite, quite ready to be rescued in the nick by her own true love. Such plots have plodded, of course, since Lorna and her Doone, but the characters here are so quirky and varied, and Black's manner so sprightly and pell-mell, that this adds up to the real thing in romantic adventure.