To Wed a Wild Scot
Lately, if the word “Scot” appears in the title of a romance novel, I run the other way. It usually means loads of stereotypes, brawniness, and not much else. Luckily, To Wed a Wild Scot is an exception. Anna Bradley’s second book in the Besotted Scots series features an English lady in desperate need of a husband and a Scottish laird who has just ruined her last hope of marriage. It rises above the Scottish stereotypes plaguing Romancelandia and gives the reader a fun, if flawed, romance.
Lady Juliana Bernard is rushing to Scotland to find her childhood friend Fitzwilliam Vaughn, the Duke of Blackmore. Unofficially betrothed to Fitz for years, Juliana is desperate to find and marry him. Her father, in failing health and with diminishing mental faculties, has declared that Juliana can only be named as guardian to her beloved niece Grace if she marries before he dies. But Juliana and Fitz’s childhood ‘friend’ (read evil villain) has convinced Juliana’s father that he would be a better guardian of Grace (and her fortune). Juliana has written to Fitz to make him aware of the dire situation but he has not replied.
Fitz is the older twin brother of Logan Blair, acting Laird of the Clan Kinross. Logan was raised with the clan in Scotland but Fitz was raised in England as the Duke of Blackmore’s heir. Logan experienced first-hand the devastation of the Highland Clearances (kudos to Ms. Bradley for her research and excellent depiction of these horrific events) and will do anything to protect his clan from similar atrocities. Fitz is the legal laird of the clan and Logan has to make sure Fitz’s loyalties stay in Scotland, so when he sees Fitz falling in love with a lass from the clan, he is thrilled. He is going to make sure the romance proceeds quickly and smoothly by stealing and burning the letters Fitz is receiving from an English lady.
Through a series of events, Juliana discovers Logan in Scotland and secretly follows him to Fitz. When she explains the situation to Fitz, he is devastated that he cannot help her (he is now engaged and expecting a child). Fitz wonders why Juliana never wrote to him and the truth of Logan’s actions come out. Fitz demands that Logan fixes the situation he inadvertently caused by marrying Juliana himself.
Logan thinks not! He is not at all fond of the English and especially not of the aristocracy. Fitz and Juliana push and Logan resists until he has the opportunity to see how strong and intriguing Juliana really is. When they finally start talking to each other, Logan sees a different side of her.
“I’m afraid if I ask for help too often, I’ll forget how to help myself. It wouldn’t be so surprising, really. I was raised to be decorative, not useful.”
Logan stared down at her, too astounded to say a word. Decorative? Is that all she thought she was? He’d never known a more determined, independent woman in his life. He’d also never known a more obstinate, willful, maddening one, but one thing Lady Juliiana Bernard was not was useless.
He agrees to the marriage and he and Juliana wed and set off for England to claim Grace before Juliana’s father passes.
To Wed a Wild Scot is a fast-moving, fun read with interesting plot twists and turns. The villain is more villainous that we initially think, and dealing with him takes up a large part of the second half of the book. Juliana and Logan find themselves drawn to each other pretty early on in their marriage. Both will do anything for family or clan, both are stubborn, and both want to make a success of their marriage. They have a passion for each other that rings true.
Logan makes a strong hero, totally dedicated to the welfare of his clan, making sure they all have options in the changing Scottish landscape of the time. I loved that even though he knew Juliana’s father was involved in the Highland clearances, he never holds it against Juliana (or even tells her of it). Juliana is a likeable heroine although often at odds with her own character – sometimes strong and sure of herself, sometimes doubting her own value.
My main quibble with the book is that while it seemed early on that Logan and Juliana would communicate openly with each other, as the book progresses they both start jumping to conclusions and not giving each other the benefit of the doubt. It would have been a stronger story if they had continued to talk with each other and trusted each other’s words and actions. Together they could have quickly bested the villain and concentrated on becoming a family, but instead, we almost reach the end of the book, long after the villain is ousted, before they speak openly to each other about some of their misunderstandings. There are also some loose ends that are not tied up, but I’m giving the author the benefit of the doubt and assuming they’ll be addressed in the next book.
I haven’t read the first book in the series, The Wayward Bride, but I was able to keep up just fine with this second book. Fans of the series, Ms. Bradley, and Scottish romances will enjoy To Wed a Wild Scot. I’m giving it a recommendation because the writing is strong and the storyline is interesting in spite of the communication issues between the hero and heroine.