I have a weakness for books with plaid on the cover and the words Scot, Scotsman, or Scottish in the title. I know I am not the only one, as there are an abundance of these books. I also know I am not the only one because I know other people who read these books and we love to talk about them. (And yes, we will be discussing this one.)
Morgan MacCraig returns to Ballandair Castle, his home in Scotland, after five years away. He’s been trying to live up to his father, a man known for his honor, but he’s coming home in disgrace. He’s divorced his adulterous wife and just wants to forget the hideous things she said to him throughout their marriage. (It made me quite happy that we live in a time were people can do the sensible thing and separate from someone who makes them unhappy without major societal censure.) But upon returning home, he keeps running into Jean MacDonald, a maid who goes ghost hunting when she can’t sleep.
Jean is a good maid, but keeps acting improperly around her employer. She’s never quite fit in since she is the housekeeper’s niece and has trouble relating to others since she can’t reveal her past. Like Morgan, she came to Ballandair to escape scandal, no matter that what happened was none of her doing. She also lives in the shadow of her younger, more beautiful sister. Morgan is the first person to favor her honesty over her sister’s art. The two keep finding themselves alone together and talk about a range of subjects, from ghosts to books. I love a romance based on lots of conversation, so I definitely enjoyed that aspect of A Scandalous Scot.
Very few authors can make class-crossing romances seem remotely plausible, but Karen Ranney manages well. Morgan’s already isolated from London society, so he doesn’t have much to lose. Jean does have trouble fitting in as the countess of a castle where she was once a servant. No one quite knows how to treat her as she tries to establish herself. Her younger sister Catriona, on the other hand, has grand ideas of how to establish herself as the earl’s sister-in-law.
While Morgan and Jean’s romance unfolds, Catriona has an affair with Morgan’s friend and companion, Andrew Prentice. I loathed that A Scandalous Scot spent so much time with Catriona and Andrew. They’re amoral, selfish characters focused on achieving their own desires above all else. Andrew is married with five children, but has little desire to help raise them. Catriona hurts people in order to avenge petty offenses. I understand that Jean wants to protect her sister because she loves her, but it’s hard to worry overmuch about her succeeding or not when Catriona so little deserves her protection. (In fact, I’d have been quite happy with Catriona getting a comeuppance for the way she treats people.) Andrew and Catriona are a bitter aftertaste to the sweetness of Morgan and Jean.
A Scandalous Scot is a wonderfully simple, straightforward romance. Two people meet, talk, discover that they’re compatible, and somehow make it work. I loved seeing both Jean blossom into a confident woman and Morgan develop his own definition of honor. If you like romances with plaid on the cover, you could do far worse than A Scandalous Scot. I know I’ll be reading more by Ranney in the future.
One scandal was never enough . . .
After four long years, Morgan MacCraig has finally returned to the Highlands of his birth . . . with his honor in shreds. After a scandal, all he wants now is solace-yet peace is impossible to find with the castle’s outspoken new maid trying his patience, challenging his manhood . . . and winning his love, body and soul.
Jean MacDonald wants to leave her past behind and start anew, but Ballindair Castle, a Scottish estate rumored to be haunted, hasn’t been the safe haven she envisioned. Ballindair’s ancestral ghosts aren’t as fascinating as Morgan, the most magnificent man she’s ever seen. Though their passion triggers a fresh scandal that could force them to wed, Jean must first share the secrets of her own past-secrets that could force them apart, or be the beginning of a love and redemption unlike anything they’ve ever known.
Read an excerpt here.