Ever since I began reading in the first grade, books have always given me enjoyment.  I have many favorites, but there are certain stories that will never be removed from my list of all time greats.  One of those is The Dedicated Villain by Patricia Veryan.  This is the sixth and last book in The Golden Chronicles series.  She wrote it in 1989.  The series is set after the Jacobite rebellion against England when Bonnie Prince Charlie’s attempt to claim the throne was defeated at the Battle of Culloden in 1746.  The books revolve around what happens to the treasure gathered by the rebels in support of the Prince.  The treasure is hidden and can only be found if a code is deciphered.  In the meantime, those who have the treasure are trying to return it to the needy supporters without the English getting their hands on it.

Since the very first book, Roland Otten (sometimes called Mathieson) tries desperately to get his hands on the code and the treasure.  For the first five books, he is usually on the side of the villains, chasing that story’s hero and heroine.  He disrupts their plans and isn’t above using nefarious means to obtain what he wants.  And then, in The Dedicated Villain, he finds the treasure hidden by a troupe of traveling actors.  Success at last!

Or is it?

For the daughter of the troupe’s owner is Fiona Bradford, and she sees Roland only as a hero.  To her, he is brave and kind, and no one has ever looked at him like that before.  He can’t resist falling in love with her.  When other villains discover he knows where the treasure is, Roland can’t let himself fail in Fiona’s eyes and so becomes the hero she believes in.  The last forty pages of the story are an amazing culmination of his transformation and how he earns his happily ever after.  I love the theme of a hero living up to others’ expectations.  Roland started out a villain because that was expected of him; then he became a hero, again due to expectations.

The other five books in the series have great conflict and climactic moments where the couples must choose in favor of their love—sometimes even against Roland, but his goal to find the treasure is the thread that holds the series together.  It is possible to read just the last book, but I believe that for the reader to truly experience the heart-pounding change, it is best to start with Book One Practice to Deceive.  I hope you enjoy this series, too.