Barbara’s Rating – 4 of 5 Stars
Series: Saints & Scoundrels #3
Publication Date: 1/27/20
Number of Pages: 400
While there is no trigger warning in the book blurb, there is one at the beginning of the book. Of course, you wouldn’t see that until you’d already bought the book, so, I thought I’d go ahead and mention it here. If you are particularly sensitive/susceptible to reading about those kinds of things, you should be aware that domestic abuse – severe beatings and rape – are talked about in this book. I thought the author handled that subject matter well and got her point across without getting overly graphic. I thought it was all really well done.
One would think that Constance and Alec were opposites and could never be a good match. Alec is a self-made man who works for a living even though he is the second son of an earl and his working is frowned upon. Alec works tirelessly to help, as a doctor, those who have no champions. Constance’s sole goal in life was to marry a title – specifically, a duke. Well – she sure managed to reach that goal. What is missing from that scenario is that, as children, they knew and liked each other very much. Then, Constance (Connie) was sweet and loving and greatly admired Alec. What happened? Well – there are parents – particularly mothers – who seem to be spawns of Satan.
The opening chapter shows what Constance Campbell’s life has been like for the last three years – since she married Duncan Campbell, the Duke of Kilmaine and moved to Scotland to live in Castle Kilmaine. It also shows that she’s stronger than you’d think given the weak-willed way she bent to her mother’s desires rather than her own. She’d certainly have to have some strength to her to endure all she has for the last three years and not be a huddled, whimpering, mass of fears. So, while I didn’t admire the way she acquiesced to her mother’s desires, I did admire that she had managed to endure her brute of a husband and had managed to survive without going stark-raving mad. I liked her very much.
Alec McGuiness is only attending the Duke of Kilmaine’s ball in order to speak with the Duchess of Kilmaine – and he’s only doing that because their mutual friend Sophie asked him to do so. When she finally appears on the stairs, he loses his breath because she is still so very beautiful. Then, when he speaks to her, his sharp physician’s eye notices the telltale signs of the abuse to which she is subjected. How can he help her?
When Constance (Connie) awakens the morning following the ball, she feels groggy and disoriented – at least until she sees the lifeless body of her husband sprawled across her bed. He’s been viciously stabbed and there is blood all over the place, including all over Connie. Did she finally snap and murder him? She’s not sure, but she knows her first order of business has to be to get her step-daughter, Amelie, away from the castle to protect her from her uncle Fergus.
Everyone immediately assumes Connie snapped and killed the duke – including Fergus, the duke’s brother. Alec doesn’t believe a word of it and quickly helps Connie escape the castle where she’s been confined. Once they are away from there, everything breaks loose – everybody is chasing Connie and Alec and Connie and Alec are trying to find out who the real murderer is. The answer will surprise you – and perplex you.
One thing that perplexed me was a ‘monthly dowry’. That is one I’ve never heard of, but maybe it was possible. I can’t imagine any circumstances under which a potential groom would agree to that – but – it just doesn’t seem feasible to me and every time I saw it mentioned it just jarred me right out of the story.
I also have to add that I thought Connie’s falling for Alec and being able to relax around him and even allow him to touch her came a little too quickly. We all heal at different rates, but Connie’s recovery seemed remarkable – to me.
I enjoyed the read and I hope you will as well. The stories in this series are stand-alone, so you don’t have to have read the other books in the series in order to enjoy this one.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.