Published by Avon on August 25, 2015
On the cusp of her first London season, Miss Madeline Gracechurch was shyly pretty and talented with a drawing pencil, but hopelessly awkward with gentlemen. She was certain to be a dismal failure on the London marriage mart. So Maddie did what generations of shy, awkward young ladies have done: she invented a sweetheart.
A Scottish sweetheart. One who was handsome and honorable and devoted to her, but conveniently never around. Maddie poured her heart into writing the imaginary Captain MacKenzie letter after letter … and by pretending to be devastated when he was (not really) killed in battle, she managed to avoid the pressures of London society entirely.
Until years later, when this kilted Highland lover of her imaginings shows up in the flesh. The real Captain Logan MacKenzie arrives on her doorstep—handsome as anything, but not entirely honorable. He’s wounded, jaded, in possession of her letters… and ready to make good on every promise Maddie never expected to keep.
This book just ticked all the boxes for me. Funny? Check. Chemistry? Check. Hot Scotsman? Check. Lobsters? Check…um. What? I like shellfish as much as the next not-deathly-allergic person but they’re definitely NOT one of my boxes that need to be checked. However, the lobsters do play a small but crucial role in the latest installment of the Castles Ever After series and keep with Dare’s proclivity towards quirky, intelligent heroines who don’t fit into societal norms of their era. For instance, When a Scot‘s heroine prefers to paint detailed animal and insect pictures while hiding away from the world due to her painful shyness. In fact, to avoid the horrors of Almack’s and a London social season, Maddie invented a sweetheart. A Scottish sweetheart who was shipped off to war just when things were getting good and, now that her heart’s been firmly claimed, she can’t possibly love anyone else. Therefore, she doesn’t need or want a season, especially while the love of her life is off risking his. She even goes so far as to write and mail off letters to her make-believe Captain Logan MacKenzie.
So imagine her surprise when he shows up at the door of her recently-inherited castle in the Highlands with a rag-tag group of his soldiers, expecting her to marry him. Poor Maddie. She just wanted to spend her life happily creating her illustrations, doing things like observing the life and mating cycle of lobsters, while avoiding as much human contact as possible.
I found myself smiling and laughing as these two learned about one another and slowly fell in love. I really loved the secondary characters who supported the lovebirds (even though many of them realized that this was just a marriage of convenience and totally made up…until it wasn’t. Yay, HEAs!). Maddie’s aunt was adorable and the wounded veterans — both mentally and physically — really needed these two to work things out so they could have a landing pad and start to recover from the wounds war left upon them. As always, Dare’s characters had heart and smarts as well as their own challenges to overcome. Truly, reading a Dare book is like hanging out with an old best friend, something I want to do more often (a reread may be in order!).
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