Kilt to Order
Grade : C

The title of Susannah Nix’s Kilt to Order is very misleading. If you are expecting one of the characters to be Scottish, they are not. Nor does it take place in Scotland. The tie-in to kilts is that the male characters belong to a Highland Games club in Texas, which gets only the briefest of mentions in the story. Even the explanation for why they do this particular activity has nothing to do with Scotland. So if you are looking for a Scottish romance… nope, you're not going to find that here.

Casey Goodrich shares a house** with her older brother Ozzy and Ozzy’s two friends, Darius and Gareth. She’s a twenty-eight year old virgin for reasons I’m still not sure I understand beyond she’s a bookworm and bookworms are… nerdy virgins? Casey sees herself as un-fuckable, not because there’s anything really wrong with her but because she suffers from a lack of self esteem so extreme as to be pathological. Her continued virginity is simply a case of self-fulfilling prophecy.

Enter Gareth Kelly. A firefighter-slash-struggling-community-college-student, Gareth is thoroughly nonplussed when Casey approaches him with the request that he help her out by divesting her, at long last, of her pesky virginity. He can’t do that! Not only is Casey his best friend’s little sister and his roommate, they’ve already defined their relationship as Just Friends For All Eternity. Besides, Gareth doesn’t do relationships with people he has real feelings for.

When Gareth initially turns Casey down, she’s not surprised. Gareth is beautiful, and has his pick of gorgeous women to hook up with. She’s not the kind of girl he would ever go for, and really, this is a good thing because his friendship is waayyyy better than any kind of hot sexual experience he might provide. But Casey is determined to finally stop being a virgin, so she heads to a party with the intention of sleeping with the first guy she meets who agrees to do it. Why she didn’t do that years ago remains a mystery.

Gareth isn’t having any of this and agrees to initiate Casey to the world of sex. The rest of the story is the incremental steps Gareth and Casey take to give her the experience she’s lacking.

This is a story about two friends who are attracted to each other but think they can’t be together simply because they are two friends. I never get this. Yes, Gareth’s backstory gives him a bit of dysfunction that keeps him from wanting to commit, but it’s far from insurmountable. Casey is supposed to be so unappealing that she’s literally had NO chances to ever hook up with a guy in twenty-eight years, and yet Gareth finds her hotter than hell even before she tells him she’s a sure thing.

And this is kind of the problem with the story. Casey is a virgin for no reason that made any sense to me. She’s not physically unappealing. She’s not socially inept. Basically, Casey is straight up ditzy. She thinks things like “can you read romance novels if you join a convent?” and “will the goats be offended if we eat goat cheese in front of them?” She wears tee shirts with goofy sayings about reading on them… on her first dates. And for some reason, she dresses up in a furry puffin onesie to go to a Highland Games festival. Maybe it was a costumed event…?? I don’t know. But rather than make her quirky and lovable, it makes her come off as extremely immature.

In fact, all the characters are kind of immature. They are supposed to be in their late twenties, but they act like they are living in a college rental flat. The guys walk around the house naked even though they have a female roommate (who is one guy’s sister! Ew!). They give each other purple nurples. Casey has never worn a thong before? She’s twenty-eight!

** Sharing a house with three hunky, athletic guys sounds kind of dreamy. In this case, however, Casey seems more like the frat house mother than the luckiest girl in the world. She cooks for everyone (although, to be fair, Gareth is a great cook (of course he is!)), does all the household shopping, keeps the place clean and generally takes care of the guys. She’s also the unofficial ‘team mom’ when they attend sporting events, packing the snacks and hauling the sunscreen and other essentials. It’s kind of icky.

This might have read as more believable to me if all of the characters had been in their early twenties, just starting out and not fully into adulthood yet. This includes Casey being a much younger still-a-virgin. I know people are maturing later and later these days, but this stretches that concept a bit far.

I will say that Gareth earned my devotion when he asked Casey not to use the phrase “making love” because it creeps him out. It’s nice to see someone else share my revulsion for that expression.

In the end, if you are looking for a friends-to-lovers story with decent writing and inoffensive characters, Kilt to Order is okay. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it either.

Reviewed by Jenna Harper
Grade : C

Sensuality: Warm

Review Date : February 29, 2024

Publication Date: 07/2023

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Jenna Harper

I'm a city-fied suburban hockey mom who owns more books than I will probably ever manage to read in my lifetime, but I'm determined to try.
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