September 29, 2015
Oh what a tangled web we weave, blah blah blah.
We certainly have a deceit in When a Scot Ties the Knot, by Tessa Dare. What we have in
this book is a heroine, Madeline Gracechurch, who has to come up with a fiancé really fast. She needs to get her father off of her back. He's trying to force her into wedded bliss so he can enjoy his own. So, she invents a fiancé who is off fighting in the war. For years she keeps this letter campaign up, she is even given a house in Scotland to live in by a relative. She kills off her pretend fiancé so she can be totally independent, goes into mourning and then one day who should show up on her door but her pretend fiancé. Well, he's not so pretend and he most certainly isn't dead and he's here to claim her has his wedded wife. Oh dear.
I'm rather fond of pretend fiancé/fiancée/husbands/wives scenario. It makes for a fun story, usually. I like Tessa Dare. I like her humor and I was looking forward to reading this one - however. There were a few stumbling blocks for me, the biggest being the age of the heroine, Madeline. When Madeline first embarks on her plan she is 16 years old, a minor. At this age Madeline would really have no rights of her own, she would definitely be under her father's authority. How a 16 year old could have a fiancé who her father would agree to without the father ever having meet him was a really big stretch of the imagination. Then while still very young she is given the land in Scotland to go and live in. That was also a big stretch. If her father had been portrayed as a mean, creepy guy maybe I could have bought into this a little better, but he's not. He just seems to be neglectful. But even with him being unaware of what his daughter is going through, I just couldn't buy into his approving of someone he's never ever been introduced to. I wish her age had been bumped up a few years, it would have made the whole scenario a bit more palatable. Then there were the letters. If it was all pretend anyway, why even bother to write letters to a fake fiancé. I guess we wouldn't have a story then, but there were a lot of stretches in this story.
Even though I didn't buy into the 16-year-old letter writer part of this story, I did like the older Madeline. I thought she was a wonderfully quirky character. She has pet lobsters, oh not because she likes lobsters, but she is supposed to be illustrating their life cycle (up to 31 years for a male and 54 years for a female). She is a highly talented illustrator. She has dreams of illustrating and has a patron who might get her a job illustrating for a dictionary. She wants that job, she needs the money, the independence - that job would be the answer to her prayers. Because she is a single woman, her patron thinks she will have an easier time getting that job - she won't have all those little kiddies hanging on her skirt, you see. But who should show up to ruin it all - her dead fiancé, her pretend dead fiancé, and he wants one thing. He wants marriage.
Captain Logan MacKenzie is an orphan. He's done well for himself in the army, but he wants something else. He wants a place he can call his own, a place where he can take his rag-tag group of soldiers who followed him and give them a home. Most of his men were originally from Scotland and it is the time of clearances so most of his men don't have a place to go. Because the name Madeline invented for her fiancé actually belonged to a real man, Logan has been getting her letters for five years. He sees his chance: he threatens her with revealing her secret unless she marries him. It will be a marriage of convenience for both of them. She grudgingly agrees. What she doesn't know is that Logan has cherished each and every one of those letters. He has fallen in love with the woman who has corresponded with him for those five years. I did enjoy watching Logan and Madeline grow into being friends and then lovers.
When the Scot Ties the Knot will make many of Ms. Dare's fans happy campers. I found it to be another pleasant read, which had a number of "could have been" moments in it and one too many stretch of the imagination moments. It isn't one of my favorites by Ms. Dare.
Time/Place: 1817 Scotland