After the Kiss

An Unlikely Governess

The Devil Wears Tartan

Heaven Forbids

The Irresistible McRae My Beloved

My True Love

My Wicked Fantasy

One Man's Love
When the Laird Returns

A Scotsman In Love
by Karen Ranney
(Avon, $6.99, PG)  ISBN 978-006-125243-3
As I looked at the TRR archives, I noticed that ratings for Ranney’s books have ranged from 2 to 4 hearts.  A Scotsman In Love was one of those books that could have gotten any of those ratings depending on the part of the story I was reading.  There were parts that made me smile and feel warm, while at other times, I was tempted to skim and move on.  Thus I feel compelled to give this one just three hearts, and that with a bit of a warning.

Robert McDermott, Earl of Linnet, has returned from Scotland after three long years in France, where he, his wife Amelia and five-year-old daughter Penelope were visiting Amelia’s family. For the majority of that time, Robert was recovering from injuries sustained in a carriage accident that killed Amelia and Penelope. He is still grieving and isn’t even sure he wants to be home, but felt forced to come when he learned his mother was going through his money and had instructed his solicitor to stop paying the bills.  He comes to his estate in Scotland to finish healing, and yes, to hide.  Glengarrow is beginning to show signs of neglect. Upon his arrival Robert discovers that not only did bills go unpaid, but so did his devoted servants, Tom and his wife Janet. 

Robert also finds someone in the cottage on his property: Margaret Dalrousie.  Margaret is a spinster painter who is also hiding from the world.  Once a famous portrait painter, Margaret was the darling of drawing rooms and the Russian Royal Family. About a year ago, she was attacked and raped by four men, whose voices she recognized as sons of the nobles. When she tried to report the crime, she was ostracized, her clients refused to pay her commissions, and she returned to England in disgrace. Just as Margaret thought she had hit bottom, she was notified that an undisclosed benefactor had purchased Blackthorne Cottage for her.  Janet and Tom were hired to help her and she was more than willing to allow them to live with her, since they had no other source of income and didn’t feel comfortable living in the Glengarrow mansion with no one else there.

This is the story of two wounded people who need the other to heal.  The two immediately rub each other the wrong way and yet find that resistance is intriguing just the same.  Robert decides to commission a painting of his dead wife and Margaret decides to accept the challenge.  She has been fearing that she has lost her touch, but finds the unique nature of this commission – painting a dead woman from someone else’s memory - captures her imagination enough to give it a try.   This task forces Robert and Margaret to spend time together.  They eventually lust after each other, and then ultimately fall in love.  But not before both undergo many hours of introspection and soul searching.

Ranney offers many details in her story writing, and at times this minute detail is overwhelming in its tedium.  While discussing how an artist must mix her paints and all that entails is interesting, it is also rather show-stopping. Much of the time these two characters spend together involves their verbal sparring. This too gets tiresome at times.  Their individual introspection consists of second-guessing and often thinking in their heads for pages on end, much longer than needed for the reader to see the patterns. 

One tortured hero can grow old at times but when both the hero and the heroine are tortured, it simply leaves a feeling of depression. I liked them individually and could empathize with their plights. But this is not a feel-good story. Even when they each decide that they might actually be feeling love, they are not happy about it. Somehow though, Ranney interjects a glimmer of hope beneath the surface. It is that hope that the reader must grab to stay engaged and use as the basis for being certain there will be a happy ending.  It saves the story, so to speak.

All in all, A Scotsman is Love is a book that captured my attention.  It didn’t always hold it, but it did ultimately deliver a romance that was basically a middle of the road story. 

--Shirley Lyons

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