Stranded With the Scottish Earl
Sometimes I just want to be entertained when I pick-up a romance. No drama, no angst and a simple story of a man and woman in love. Anna Campbell has been self-publishing some great short stories lately and her latest – Stranded with the Scottish Earl – is the perfect book to pick-up in between all those heavy, intense reads.
One would think that torrential rain and an unwelcoming woman would be enough to deter the Earl of Lyle from his personal quest to gain entry at Bassington Lea, and yet Ewan Macrae is far from dissuaded. In fact, the rain might be his best chance of getting past the beautiful guard at the door. Seeing the object of his quest dressed as a veritable Cinderella makes it easy for Ewan to play the charming anonymous rogue, making small talk under an assumed name and pleading his case until the roads leading away from the house are flooded just as his Cinderella warned him they would be. With no way to return to town, his new friend lets him into the house but keeps him as far from her person as possible.
Miss Charlotte Warren knows exactly who Lord Lyle is, knows exactly why he’s traveled to her home and isn’t interested in furthering her acquaintance with the man. Only a day or two earlier, Charlotte received a letter from her father with news that he’d agreed to match her with the earl before they’d even met face to face. With no plans to ever wed and surrender her independence, Charlotte is not going to accept any betrothal to a perfect stranger, even if he’s rather handsome and quite easy to get along with. Hoping that she can keep him from learning her true identity, Charlotte plays up the role she’s dressed for, that of a house maid, and tells Ewan that the woman he’s looking for isn’t there and he’d best leave as soon as the weather turns.
Fortunately Ewan isn’t truly fooled by her disguise and manages to turn the situation around. Even with her stubborn refusal to even consider his suit, Ewan knows that he can win Charlotte’s affections by getting to know the woman underneath the prickly demeanor. When the storm threatens Charlotte’s land and livestock, he is ready to lend a hand and prove his worth, showing her the man that he is under the title. A long day of work and camaraderie turns into a night full of unexpected passion, yet Charlotte resists the idea of a future together. To her jaded heart, true affection cannot blossom in such a short period of time.
Since Stranded with the Scottish Earl is a short story, the action and the relationship between Ewan and Charlotte develop rather quickly but I was enchanted by it all. My early comments on the story were that it’s “Cute and Fluffy” which I still believe is a perfect description for this almost fairy tale romance. It’s love at first sight handled in a believable way, with both main characters taking time to learn about their partner before accepting what their hearts knew from almost the start.
I love how Charlotte’s plans to discourage Ewan’s interest in her backfire so spectacularly. She tries to keep him distant and plays up her strong will and feistiness, yet those traits are precisely the things that Ewan appreciates in her. He doesn’t want a simpering miss like those he’s met in London. He needs a woman who can survive in the Highlands and meet him as an equal in their marriage. There is a sweet scene where Ewan and Charlotte have to help a distressed sheep give birth and it’s a chance for both of them to see just how strong the other person is in a crisis. From there Charlotte’s walls start coming down and she lets Ewan show her what their marriage could be like.
I had such fun reading Stranded with the Scottish Earl. From Ewan’s charm, Charlotte’s snark and their meet-cute first moments together, it all comes together as a pleasant diversion and a great way to pass a few hours reading. I highly recommend this short-story along with all the other self-published titles Ms. Campbell has released.