Kill or Be Kilt
Did you have a teenage crush? Especially on an older man? It’s the kind of thing that’s a bit embarrassing to look back on, but is a rite of passage for many. In Kill or be Kilt, the third book in Victoria Roberts’ Highland Spies series, we finally get to see what comes out of young Elizabeth Walsingham’s teen crush, and how, like many of us, she never really grew out of it. And don’t worry if you haven’t read the other books in the series – it isn’t necessary in order to enjoy this one!
After Elizabeth’s uncle dies in a carriage accident, she decides that it is time she go to court. She’s eighteen now, after all, and it’s her turn. It’s only fair. The thing is, she has no idea that her uncle and her oldest sisters were spies for the king, and she’s walking into a mess that has much farther reaching consequences than whether or not she’s accepted by society. Her uncle isn’t the only man close to the king to have died recently. As she and her escorts, her sisters’ husbands, Fagen and Ruairi, and Laird Ian Munro, her childhood crush, wait their turn to see the king, more men are dying, and Elizabeth may be caught in the crosshairs.
And if that isn’t enough, although Elizabeth has given up on Ian ever returning her affections, his jealousy rages as she has not one, but two additional men vying for her attentions. Ian has to come to grips with his own feelings, as well as his constant inability to understand Elizabeth and his very constant ability to infuriate her.
Elizabeth and Ian may have one of my favorite relationships of the year. I’ll withhold further judgement until, well, the year is over, but they are definitely contenders! Elizabeth is okay with Ian not reciprocating her feelings, but once he admits that he does, she refuses to let him take it back. While some of the things she gets angry about annoyed me, she doesn’t let him off the hook easily, and is sure to tell him not only when he does something wrong, but what she is upset about. Healthy relationships for the win!
To be honest, though, I did spend a lot of time wondering why the men weren’t listening to Elizabeth and her observations and ideas. For example, she sees one man place his hand on the rear of his mother, and points it out to Ian, understandably confused and suspicious that perhaps things aren’t as they seem. Ian’s response? Maybe the woman in question was falling and the man had to help her regain her balance. I’m not sure how exactly that would work, but apparently it needed no further investigation. Making plans to discover who is behind the whole conspiracy? Let’s send Elizabeth to her room, shall we? It’s not like she has any part to play.
Now a lot of that may be accurate for the time period – the early 1600s weren’t exactly the most feminist of eras. But it did make me want to throw things at the men in Elizabeth’s life. Especially when time after time, all three make comments on how the Walsingham sisters are so observant and intelligent. Does it really make sense to ignore what she thinks and sees when you literally complimented her just a few pages before?
Overall, I enjoyed Elizabeth and Ian’s story. It’s a fun and easy read, and is definitely entertaining. The entire premise on which the series is built – of a spy family – is fascinating, and it’s coupled with memorable characters and an interesting conspiracy. I can definitely recommend picking up Kill or Be Kilt. Now, please excuse me as I go and find myself copies of the rest of the series.