Hit Me With Your Best Scot
In book one of Suzanne Enoch’s Wild Wicked Highlanders series, readers were introduced to the three MacTaggert brothers, all of whom need to marry in order to maintain their family estate. It’s been years since their mother, an Englishwoman, separated from their father and left Scotland for London after the birth of their younger sister, but after an absence of seventeen years, she has reinserted herself into their lives and reminded them all that they must marry Englishwomen in order to preserve their finances and landholdings, according to the terms of the agreement she made with their father.
Coll MacTaggert, Viscount Glendarril and eldest of the MacTaggert brothers, is determined to pick his own wife, thank you very much. Since he’s very big and very brash, that may take a while.
Enter trouser-wearing actress Mrs. Persephone – Persie – Jones, who has as much swagger as Coll does. Bumping into one another between acts behind the curtain of a play where Persie is performing and Coll has run for his life from his mother’s matchmaking once more, Coll is instantly in lust with the flirty but not so ladylike Persephone. She’s impressed when Coll saves her from an aristocratic stage door Johnnie with whom Persie has had an affair, and soon Coll learns that Persie isn’t all she seems. But when he shows up soon after their first meeting and asks her to marry him, she’s shocked.
Coll, of course, has his own motivations for wanting to be with Persie beyond lust – including tweaking the sensibilities of his society-minded mother, who is already shocked by Coll’s interest in Persie. The couple decides instead to make a trade of it – Coll will offer Persie physical protection from a mysterious stalker threatening her life, while Persie will try to help Coll read the social cues of the society ladies he courts. But when the truth comes out about her previous life, will their relationship still stand?
Hit Me With Your Best Scot is delightful, but dotted with problems that keep it from DIK status. It has a fabulous heroine and hero, and an interesting plot, but I didn’t like the effect some of those plot twists had on the story. The romance and the charm of it all, though, kept me entertained and put me in the mood to recommend it.
Persie has grit and bravery, so a couple of late-act revelations that make her a little timorous and weakly dependent on Coll seem out of character; she recovers from this admirably and in general remains strong and tough-minded. Her backstory provides many twists and turns, but I was disappointed by a route and requisite turn that made her marriage to Coll palatable to the ton.
Coll is a fabulous hero. Suffering no fools gladly, and immediately enamored of Persie, he’s handsome and blustery but so devoted and loyal. His relationship with his brothers is pretty delightful too. I got the impression that he’d continue to support Persie’s acting career no matter what, which is a wonderful thing.
But as Evelyn noted in her review of Scot Under the Covers (book two of the series), there has to be a lot of suspension of disbelief when you read about Enoch’s Highlanders sometimes. The base plotline of the series is a little faulty; it does not reflect well on Lady Ardiss (the boys’ mother) or their father, who stake their children’s’ happiness and the livelihoods of hundreds of innocent people upon their sons marrying English women, seemingly just out of pique. Lady Ardiss does not do much to improve my opinion of her throughout the book as she abhors Persie until she realizes she makes Coll happy.
On the other hand, the theatrical world that Enoch paints is beautifully handled, both giving us the glory and tedium of life as an actor. I liked the little glimpses we got of the other brothers and Coll’s prospective brother-in-law (whose gambling debts make me wonder if the boys’ sisters will end up back on the market by the time the series is over).
But in the end, Hit Me With Your Best Scot proved to be another win for Enoch, whose charming Scots and unusual heroines are always delightful.