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Tuesday, March 20, 2012
12:00 AM | Posted by MsHellion | | Edit Post
Hellion’s pros and cons list for WHEN A SCOT LOVES A LADY:
Gorgeous cover—I love red!
A gorgeous Scottish hero—I love kilts! Oh, wait, he never wore a kilt. He spoke in Scots, close enough
Real emotion in each of the characters
Excellent backstory and secrets—well done!
Did I mention the hero was rather charming too? And skilled at lovemaking?
Well-paced, good action voice
Interesting storyline on the whole
I read THE HUNGER GAMES in the middle of the book
First I want to say that the fact I read The Hunger Games in the middle of reading this book is not Katharine Ashe’s fault. It’s a bit like starting a Sophie Kinsella novel and then reading a new J.K. Rowling novel in mid-stream. I love Sophie Kinsella and want to write like her someday. It would not change the fact that I’d drop her to read J.K. Rowling in a New York second.
But I did return, and I was able to pick up where I left off again without much confusion on my part. Only once did I go, “Where are the Tributes?” Oh, yeah, wrong story. So bear with me as I recount the book—and ignore any sentences that may suggest this book features a young woman with a bow and arrow, fighting for her life. Any mistakes in recounting are my fault alone. What you should remember is the hero is very, very yummy; and he gets her in the end. That's really all that matters.
What WHEN A SCOT LOVES A LADY starts with is an asshole. Our heroine, Lady Katherine (Kitty), is at the end of a bad breakup with Lord Poole, who has shredded her self-esteem, made her believe no other man would ever have her and she should be grateful for the crumbs of pleasure he tosses her way, and been an all-around douche-canoe. You know the type. We’ve all dated him. She’s at a costume party, contemplating the various ways to cut up the man she loves into little bits and toss him to the fishes, when in walks the most annoying man in the world, talking nonsense in a dreamy accent and accompanied by two of the biggest dogs she’s ever seen. Lord Poole has, of course, said something hateful; and Leam, the Earl of Blackwood, steps in and says something delicious.
Then like all stories where the love of your life meets you, three years pass without you seeing him. Lady Kitty is traveling with her friend Emily to spend Christmas with her. (I believe the goal is for her to be there when Emily is forced to entertain some horrible suitor her parents have picked out for her, to keep Emily from drowning herself in the nearest pond to get away from him.) But what really happens is that Lady Kitty and Emily are snowed in at an inn in the middle of nowhere, just miles from Emily’s house, and they’re snowed in with none other than Lord Leam Blackwood, his hounds, and his friend Yale. They’re following at a polite distance because Kitty might be in danger and needs to be kept an eye on. This is a spy story.
What follows is some very entertaining friendship-building and romance-building scenes and fun banter. Hints of Dark Secrets belonging to Leam as well as Kitty. (Yes, the Dark Secrets needs to be capitalized.) Wretched despair that these two will ever get to be together. Finally a delicious love scene! And then Kitty is shot and it can’t be decided if the shot is intended for her or for Leam.
To keep her safe, Leam sends her away; then he goes home to the country, to his family, and is out of the spy game forever. Of course, because this is what he wants, he can’t have it, and is soon dragged back into his old occupation when he finds that the Home Office keeps asking Kitty for help…and trick him into asking her for help. Finally he negotiates a deal that he will stay in service to the Home Office if they’ll leave Kitty out of it, even if this means he’ll break his promise to his family to be home more.
Meanwhile, against his better judgment, because he knows he’s not destined for someone as wonderful as Kitty, he is spending time with her again…and falling for her…and there is this kick-ass scene in the kitchen. Seriously sublime. I would recommend this book for the kitchen scene alone. Where was I? Oh, yes. They’re bonding. They’re in danger of getting their hearts broken…and then all hell breaks loose.
I’m not kidding. The last third of the book, if it could go wrong, it did. It was as if the first third of the book was an elaborate set up for the final third where you couldn’t set the book aside. (The Hunger Games reading came in the first third of the book.) So my only recommendation is if you start this book, hang in there because it will make sense and then it will be a flying read.
What Katharine Ashe gets right, I believe, is her characters. It’s that old adage I’m constantly quoting: if your characters are believable, you can do anything you like. Because honestly there were a few quibbly plot points where if I took them out of context I was like, “That couldn’t have happened because of X,Y,Z.” But in the heat of the story, you were like, “Of course!” It was totally elementary, Dear Watson, in the heat of the moment. I found both of the characters extremely likable, empathetic, and real. They both bore very hurtful, real secrets that would have hurt them if revealed to the wrong people. I felt these were characters who existed before the start of this book; their backstories were rich with detail. Like I was talking about yesterday: they had motive and it was in their backstories, their secrets, and their M.O.’s. The characters felt authentic as did the emotion that played out in the story, which is really what I think true romance novels are about: the emotion.
My favorite bit was right at the end where Kitty asks Leam to talk in his accent because every time he talks like that, she wants to throw herself at him urgently. It made me roll with laughter because, well, that’s exactly the action I have when I hear Liam Neeson or Gerard Butler speak.
It’s a good, solid read, pirates. You should give a try—just don’t read The Hunger Games in the middle of it.
Do you like Scottish set stories? What is one of your favorite books set with a Scottish hero? What matters more: the kilt or the accent? Have you ever read two books at once? How did that go?
Labels: katharine ashe; scotsmen; heroes