My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Series: Besotted Scots #1
Publication Date: 2/26/19
Number of Pages: 238
This was a wonderful read! The characters are delightful and the book is well-written and well-plotted. It could have easily been a 5-star read for me had the blurb mentioned that there was an m/m romance as well as infidelity. The couples aren’t married, but they are formally betrothed and during that period, that is about the same thing.
This is the first book of a new series, but this book sort of continues from the Somerset Sisters series in that the heroine in this book is the sister of the hero of the last book of the Somerset series. You don’t have to have read the previous series to love this book, but if you have, you’ll better understand the closeness of the characters – besides – it is just a good series. I had thought that the next book might feature Isla’s brother Ciaran, but that isn’t the case. Maybe #3 will be his.
Isla Ramsey was involved in another scandal and it wasn’t her fault, but the only solution was a betrothal. Her very best friend, Henry Northrup, the sixth Earl of Sydney offers for her and is accepted. They have absolutely no secrets from each other, so each knows exactly what they are getting. They don’t love each other romantically, but they do love each other. Each thinks they are doing the best thing for themselves and each other. Isn’t it wonderful that their hearts step in and show them what real love is – if they can claim it?
Isla was deeply, irrevocably in love with Hugh Courtney, the Marquess of Pierce. She was totally devastated when he just abandoned her during the scandal and wouldn’t even let her explain what happened. So, she had no choice but to become betrothed to Sydney.
Hugh was also deeply, irrevocably in love with Isla and he had thought she felt the same about him. However, she immediately became betrothed to another man just after her scandal. Hugh didn’t care about the scandal, he only cared about Isla. Evidently, she didn’t feel the same.
Sydney loves Isla as a friend and she knows all of his secrets and doesn’t judge him. He has to marry to provide an heir for the title and when Isla needs a betrothal, he steps in. He cannot ever openly fall in love, so a marriage of convenience is perfect for him – it just has to be to someone he can totally trust.
Isla and her family have left London for a visit with their brother, and his estate is directly adjacent to Hugh’s estate. Each day she takes her horse out for a ride – and cannot resist always riding in front of Hugh’s estate. She’s sure he isn’t there, but she can dream of him behind those walls. Then, during a horrific ice storm, Isla is trapped, lost, frightened and it is Hugh who finds her. He takes her to his home because it is nearest and he’s fearful she won’t survive. During their time together, they find out what happened in London, and realize they are still in love. Sadly, each of them is betrothed to someone else.
At the same time, Sydney is on his way to see Isla when he is caught in an ice storm and his carriage wrecks horribly. He’s on the brink of death when he is lifted out of the water-filled ditch. He’s only half conscious, but he’s sure there is a bear – and a man with haunting grey eyes. Later, when Sydney regains consciousness, he learns that the bear is a huge dog and the man who rescued him is Lucas Dean, a local farmer. The attraction is instant and as Sydney convalesces, they get to know one another and love each other.
Frankly, I’m not sure which romance I liked better. They were both written very well and were both sweet and poignant. However, it bothered me that the very real danger of the relationship between Sydney and Lucas wasn’t even mentioned. During that time, being a homosexual was a hanging offense, yet neither Sydney or Lucas seemed to worry about that. They went to Sydney’s estate and were openly living together and were planning trips, etc. I really wish that the story had included them finding a way to be together and work around or circumvent the dangers somehow. It isn’t a fair representation of the times to treat homosexuality like it is no big deal and I think it shortchanges the characters – because they had to be brave indeed to pursue their relationship.
This is a lovely read and I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.
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I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.