Thursday, July 05, 2012

Spotlight Review:

Avon Books
ISBN: 978-0-06-202779-5 – Print
ISBN: 978-0-06-213072-3 – eBook
July 2012
Historical Fiction/Romance

Scotland – 1860

Morgan MacCraig, ninth Earl of Denbleigh has returned to Ballindair Castle after five years, and after a less than glorious end to his marriage. In disgrace for divorcing his wife after he discovered her multiple infidelities, Morgan just wants to hide away in the home he never wanted to leave to begin with. He's brought his best friend, Andrew, with him, and Morgan hopes to somehow figure out what to do with the rest of his life. His first night at home, however, is anything but tranquil when he is bowled over by one of the maids. The plain young woman is rather outspoken for a maid, maybe too honest.

Jean MacDonald and her sister, Catriona, were taken in by their aunt, the Ballindair housekeeper, after the deaths of their parents. No one at the castle is aware of who they truly are, and it's just as well since if they did, it's likely none of them would have a position there. Jean, not one to hide her feelings or control her candid reactions to events, is horrified to have careened into the earl, knocking him down, and most likely angering him in the process. She and Catriona desperately need their jobs at the castle. Unfortunately, she and the earl keep running into each other as she does her late night wanderings through the castle.

Catriona, the pretty sister, as she's wont to remind Jean, has set her sights on the handsome earl. But when she goes to his room, it's Andrew who is there instead. Jean had hoped to waylay her sister by going to Andrew's room to ask for his assistance, but instead finds Morgan there. To her horror, the rest of the staff learn of this and, after the castle steward's strong recommendation, the earl knows what he must do to save Jean's reputation.

I always look forward to Karen Ranney's wonderful Victorian Highland novels. A SCANDALOUS SCOT does not disappoint. Beautifully drawn characters, a logical, realistic story line, and the gorgeous backdrop of the Scottish highlands are highlights of this book. Jean and Morgan both have lives that need sorting out. Morgan simply could not abide the lies and adulterous behavior of his first wife, and trusting another will not be easy. For Jean, it's all about honesty, but also making sure that others know she is not ashamed of her past, but must eventually have to face it. Catriona is a self-absorbed young woman who will need to be taught a lesson eventually. The secondary players, especially Jean's aunt and Morgan's steward, play important roles in this wonderfully fulfilling tale of justice, honor, and love.

Jani Brooks

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