Tracy’s rating: 4 of 5 stars
Series: Scots of Honor, #2
Release Date: July 27, 2021
Alec Hay, the Earl of Errol and former General in the Royal Regiment of Scotland, returned from the Peninsular Wars a changed man, scarred both inside and out by the things he endured. He returned to Scotland and tried to acclimate to his role as earl, but when his mother decides that he needs to marry, he attends her ball, has a brief encounter with a nameless lady in the garden, and then flees to Slains, his highland castle, far away from the trembling debutantes that would marry him for his title and money, but are horrified by his scarred visage. For three years he manages to keep his mother at bay, but when she shows up uninvited at his castle with a gaggle of debutantes in tow, Alec once again flees.
Lady Giselle Hepburn, daughter of the Earl of Bothwell, was the lady Alec met in the garden and while she was not turned off by his appearance, it was her first season and she had no desire to wed at that time, so she cut their meeting short, dubs him the Beast of Errol and then really doesn’t give him another thought. But now, her parents have decided to betroth her to a vile man, Sir Joshua Keith, despite her refusal to marry him. As they travel to his highland estate, they pass Slains and Giselle realizes that it has been years since she thought of Alec. They arrive at Sir Joshua’s home, and as she settles into her room Joshua enters and forces a kiss on her. She is appalled and when her mother refuses to object to his behavior, Giselle runs away. She plans to make her way to Slains and beg Alec for help. She sets out on horseback amid a storm and is thrown from the horse and would have gone over a cliff if not for the timely rescue by Alec.
Alec brings her back to his castle, to tend her sprained ankle and to protect her from Sir Joshua, who happens to be the very man that scarred Alec’s face and caused not only the capture of his friend Lorne but the death of another. Alec has long wanted to settle things with Sir Joshua, and Giselle provides the perfect opportunity. They agree to a marriage of convenience, he tells her it will save him from his mother’s attempts at matchmaking and will save her from having to marry Sir Joshua. While Alec doesn’t believe that Giselle could actually find him attractive, they have much in common and he sets out to woo her, winning her affection one book at a time.
Giselle likes Alec very much and soon begins to fall for him. She confides in her friend Jaime, who is staying at the castle with her husband, Lorne, the Duke of Sutherland, and is grateful for her help with Alec’s mother and some of the other guests. All seems like it is going well until her parents and Sir Joshua show up, and demand that Giselle honor the betrothal to Sir Joshua, which allows Alec the opportunity he has longed for to confront Sir Joshua. But the price of that confrontation could cost him everything, including the woman he has come to love.
This was a well-written, fast-paced story that has a beauty and beast feel, without actually using that trope. This book was not as lighthearted as the previous installment but did have some witty banter and steamyish love scenes that kept it from being too dark. The book had cameos from previous characters, a rather graphic/gory “fight” scene, a matchmaking mother, a bit of angst, misunderstandings, a villain who gets his due, and finally a HEA complete with an epilogue. This is the second book in the series, but it can easily be read as a standalone title. I enjoyed this installment and would happily recommend it.
*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an eARC that I requested and was provided to me by the publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.*