When a Scot Ties the Knot (Castles Ever After #3)
By: Tessa Dare
Format/Source: eBook; my purchase
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.
I saw this book in passing when I was browsing through Tessa Dare’s bibliography some time ago but didn’t think much about it, didn’t even read what the book was about. After reading a few positive reviews from fellow book bloggers, I decided to check out the premise of this book and yeah, I was intrigued. A young woman feigning an engagement to an imaginary soldier just to get out of having to go through the London season? Only to find out the guy she made up was an actual person? Colour me intrigued.
And like many books in this genre, I seem to go through them in a night xP The start of this novel was great, it really set Maddie’s predicament but also a taste of how it was that Logan could’ve possibly fallen for her over the years. It also reminded me of Lisa Kleypas’ Love in the Afternoon (review forthcoming…in 2016 *blushes*) which I really liked–perhaps I have a thing for letters in romances–so I was interested to see where the story would go here.
It took me a while to warm up to Logan tbh. He was quite the arse at the start, however good his intentions were to see his men settled and exploring whatever avenues were available to him, but using her letters to him as leverage was not cool at all. I think at this point I’ve read quite a number of marriage of convenience storylines but Logan laying down his jaded truths was about love and pushing Maddie away even as he was intrigued by her and seemed to care for her really hurt (and I’m just really protective of Maddie, okay?). He also wasn’t terribly thoughtful of her for a while too, which added to my own scepticism towards the character. But slowly but surely I warmed up to him; I just wished the author didn’t drag out his backstory to the very end–not that there was too much to it (sorry, Logan), but he could’ve used more sympathy points earlier on (aside from his orphaned state).
But perhaps I also reacted the way I did because I was really protective of Maddie. Her social anxieties were painful to read about; I just wanted to scream at all the characters to leave her alone, stop making her go to social functions if she didn’t want to go, just let her do her illustrations. I wished they addressed it more head-on because it is an issue. She’s a romantic at heart but circumstance–her social anxieties, her spinsterhood, Logan–forces her to be pragmatic and to hide her longings, which made me sad. And to show perhaps how much I identified with her/empathised with her
The story itself was enjoyable, I liked the second characters, from Logan’s fellow comrades to Maddie’s Aunt Thea (whom I wished had more scenes). The romance was nice enough, the gradual circling between Maddie and Logan and the dubious premise of their marriage. I think my favourite aspect about their relationship was when they were actually getting to know each other more outside the premise of the letters and their situation, that there was a lot more to Maddie that Logan was discovering and how Maddie was trying to figure out Logan. I only wished they had more scenes where they talked about books because it was something they had in common. The humour was great and needed when it came; there were a few moments that had me chuckling out loud.
Overall I really liked When a Scot Ties the Knot. It’s light enough a read that it wasn’t stressful and didn’t have those dark undertones you’d see in some other romances. Certain storylines could’ve been fleshed out a little further, like Maddie’s social anxiety issues (I don’t think just an issue of low self-esteem/self-confidence as the ending seemed to imply), but for what it was I liked it and was glued to it from start to finish. Perhaps it’s more of a 3-star, but Maddie’s character makes it a 4 for me 🙂