Lonesome Lily Turned Scandalous Siren Miss Lillian Hargrove has lived much of her life alone in a gilded cage, longing for love and companionship. When an artist offers her pretty promises and begs her to pose for a scandalous portrait, Lily doesn't hesitate...until the lying libertine leaves her in disgrace. With the painting now public, Lily has no choice but to turn to the one man who might save her from ruin.
Highland Devil turned Halfhearted Duke The Duke of Warnick loathes all things English, none more so than the aristocracy. It does not matter that the imposing Scotsman has inherited one of the most venerable dukedoms in Britain—he wants nothing to do with it, especially when he discovers that the unwanted title comes with a troublesome ward, one who is far too old and far too beautiful to be his problem.
Tartan Comes to Town Warnick arrives in London with a single goal: get the chit married and see her become someone else's problem, then return to a normal, quiet life in Scotland. It's the perfect plan, until Lily declares she'll only marry for love...and the Scot finds that there is one thing in England he likes far too much...
New York Times, Washington Post & USA Today bestseller Sarah MacLean is the author of historical romance novels that have been translated into more than twenty languages.
Sarah is a leading advocate for the romance genre, speaking widely on its place at the nexus of gender and cultural studies. A romance columnist and co-host of the weekly romance novel podcast, Fated Mates, her work in support of romance and those who read it earned her a place on Jezebel.com's Sheroes list and led Entertainment Weekly to call her "the elegantly fuming, utterly intoxicating queen of historical romance." Sarah is a graduate of Smith College & Harvard University. She lives in New York City
Here's a little teaser for those of you who are waiting so patiently! As you can see, the Duke of Warnick (the titular Scot in the Dark) has opinions:
He raised a brow. “It's a children’s love story.” Lillian gaped at him. “It’s Romeo and Juliet.” “Babes without any sense. Killing themselves over infatuation.” “It’s considered one of the greatest love stories of all time.” He lifted one shoulder and let it drop. “Unless you know better.” “And I suppose you know better?” she scoffed. "Without question." He leaned forward in the darkness, allowing his brogue to thicken. “You want romance, you ask a Scot.”
Warning: if you do not want to read a piece of my mind, this is the time to leave. All opinions are exactly what they are: my personal opinions. I will not defend them, nor do I expect to convince anyone. My opinions are strictly my own. It has no bearing on the quality of the book, Sarah MacLean's caliber as a writer or whether one should or should not read this book.
I have made 2 decisions after reading this book:
1. Sarah MacLean and I must part our ways, citing irreconcilable differences.
2. I will however, before I file the official papers, read Seraphina's story first. My last attempt. Seraphina is the only Sarah MacLean character that managed to pique my interest. I would like to see what she will do with Seraphina.
So let's call it a separation, for now.
I want to and need to say, that I do not think that Sarah MacLean is a bad writer, at all. I think her proses are fluid and well-formed. I have few complaints about her writing.
But I take major issues with her characters.
The first book I read from her was the widely popular 9 Rules book. That book got a 1-star rating from me. I enjoyed the writing, absolutely hated the heroine. Every book I have read from her, I experience the same feelings again and again: I want to strangle her heroines and spit on her heroes.
Let's start with the topic, body image, in her books. I really think that Sarah MacLean and I must be on the opposite sides for what we believe makes a woman charming and relatable. I find insecurity extremely unattractive. No, I do not mean that we all have to feel like Helen of Troy. But it is not necessary to have low self esteem or poor self-image because we are not "exactly what society would call beautiful." This body-image & self worth thing, is a recurring theme in her books. Her heroines are often a little on the podgy side, who disparaged themselves for not being "socially beautiful". They believed they were not what most people considered pretty. Or in this book, an extremely beautiful heroine, but guess what, nobody loves her. This "nobody wants me" feminine cry is the trademark of Sarah MacLean's heroines. I, have no stomach for such people, men or women. I respect that Sarah MacLean wants to write about such characters. I just personally find it impossible to relate to such characters, this "booo hoooo woo is me, no one loves me. I am not pretty enough or I am not worthy of love." is not what I consider the mature attitude to self-esteem. A woman, traditionally beautiful or not, can always be poised and graceful, centered and elegant. Yes she fights her insecurity, as we all do. But what makes a woman attractive, to me, is her grace. Sarah MacLean robs her heroines of their grace by always concentrating on their self-image or self-worth. As if, if no one loved them, they had no value and should consider themselves an outcast. So she has her characters engage in the so-called rule-breaking activities, masquerading them as "boldness" and "courage", which in fact are all just attempts to hide their insecurity: dressing up as men, asking men to ruin them so they don't have to face the fact that no one will marry them, posing nude for questionable characters. All because these heroines have low self esteem and didn't believe that their behaviors could make their social standing or marriage prospect any worse. I see a pattern again and again, and it's disheartening to see her portrayal of women.
In this book we have Lily, a beautiful beautiful woman, but she did not feel loved. She was lonely, felt unwanted. Long story short: a typical Sarah MacLean heroine. Many other reviewers have touched on this: Lily, is a ninny. She was in love with a painter, who convinced her to post in nude for him. Lonely Lily agreed and publicly humiliated herself when she realized that the painter had no intention of marrying her. His intention was to release the nude painting and earn fame for himself. Now, we have been told that Lily was IN LOVE, so IN LOVE. I do not mean to sound so matronly but seriously, Lily, hon, HAS ANYONE TOLD YOU YOU ARE AN IDIOT?
For Lily to put herself in this situation, I have completely lost respect for her intelligence. How am I supposed to care about her happily ever after, if I do not even respect her. MacLean made things worse by having Lily "fall in love" with Alec at like lightening speed. Seriously, there is no love between her characters. Just attraction and skin deep jealousy, made that much worse by shallow characters. Lily seemed childish, stupid, irresponsible and the worst of all: wanting. This is the downfall of all MacLean heroines in my book: They are so wanting, so desperately waiting for someone to love them. I cannot relate to such characters.
Sarah MacLean also writes about either cads or "tortured" heroes whose supposedly tragic past never, never, never really fleshed out. Pains and suffering are not light matters. If a writer decides to write about past pains, I fully expect them to give these traumatic events the respect they deserve. But under MacLean's pen, these heroes seem more like clowns. Where is the tragedy? You don't write a tortured hero by telling us that he has a tortured past. You show us in his behaviors, how he struggles with himself, how a person with a difficult past would behave, make your heroes that way too. I never really bought that any of her heroes was "struggling". They all seemed comical with their allegedly tortured past and painfully bulging groins. Oh and did I mention that they are very tortured? Because you know, to make someone a tortured hero, you just need to say it.
Alec, our "tortured" hero in this book, has body issues (see the pattern? Someone is feeling too large. For Pete's sake, can we stop obsessing over someone's size already? Why is this Sarah MacLean's favorite issue?). He felt unworthy of the heroine. So now we have a heroine who felt that no one loved her. Plus a hero who felt insecure about himself, his body. Can this book be any more Sarah MacLean?
I do not, do not enjoy saying that I want more depth in a writer's characters. It always sounds like I am passing judgement on the writers, accusing them of lacking depth. Whether Sarah MacLean's characters lack depth, I cannot say. But they are not who I want to be friends with. They are not who I want to be. They are not people who I feel for. They are not anywhere close to who I am. (Not that I don't feel pudgy sometimes myself. I so do. But I don't believe that it makes me unlovable. I am a delightful person to be with. :D) I believe that there are people who can relate to Sarah MacLean's characters. I cannot. And since she seems to address similar issues again and again and again through characters, I have reached the point where I must say, this is where we part ways.
I also must say that I am not a fan of HR writers trying to use a modern plot. Dressing a modern problem up in a historical setting. If I wanted to read about modern society, I'd read a contemporary. Sarah Maclean seems to be following some kind of a "modern issues playing Regency" route. This book, for example, reminds me of some actresses' nude photos and iCloud. I know some find it interesting. I find myself again, on the opposite side of the table.
I am giving the book 2 stars because the story itself is ok. If I was rating based on my personal feelings about Sarah MacLean's preference of certain characters/personality traits, it would be a 1 star read.
I want to start off by saying I love Sarah MacLean's books and she never disappoints,. Well almost never, but this one time. Yes, this is a first, I found this one Historical to be lacking.
I'm not going into the synopsis of the story as it's pretty self explanatory on the blurb. But I'll just say what I like and what I didn't in this review.
Liked: First of all Sarah Maclean can write and she does it well as always. The flow of the book and her ability to tell a story is very good. Rich detail and engaging secondary characters are there. Good pacing also.
Didn't Like I'm sad to say but this love story just didn't work for me. Our heroine is in love with Derek Hawkins, she's known him, "six months, three weeks, and five days and she was going to marry him"."He'd taken her breath away and he noticed her and she'd fallen quite in love". "She had given him everything he asked. Because that was what one did when one was in love".
But ten days later she is in love with the hero,Alec. WHAT?!?! The setup, first chapter, just left me with a bad taste knowing that Derek is not the hero but all this was felt for "other guy".
Chemistry between the two as far as I'm concerned was not there and no real romance or development of their love for each other.
And how is it that Lily is the most beautiful of women but ignored all her life, unnoticed? It was just odd and didn't make sense. She came across as this desperate and somewhat hopeless women. I found her character unappealing.
And the back and forth of will they get together dragged on too long for my liking. I lost interest.
Sarah Maclean is one of my favorite authors and it's saddens me to not give a glowing review. Fingers crossed for the next book.!!!!
Don't be fooled by the historical setting of this book because the things that the heroine went through felt very current. The idea of someone going through a very public humiliation like what Lillian went through in this was heartrending. This is a book that challenges your notion about scandals, slut-shaming, forgiveness, and redemption.
Ms. MacLean made Lillian a very sympathetic character to me. I normally would have a problem with a heroine who professed to love someone else during the first chapter of the book and then promptly falls in love with the hero. But as a I reader, I understood her motivation. I understood why she acted the way she did. Her actions were consistent with her motivation, which is why what happened to her in this book made such an impact on me.
But it's not just Lillian who has issues with humiliation, private or otherwise. The hero, Alec, was known as the Diluted Duke, the 17th in line to the title. He inherited the dukedom after a spate of bad luck befell the previous dukes. Alec some things in his past which made him into the man he is today. He came to England after his ward, which he knew nothing about at first, was embroiled in a scandal. He wants to solve the problem and then go back to Scotland.
But his ward, Lillian, wants nothing to do with his plan of restoring her tattered reputation. She just wants to be free and leave all her troubles behind. As they spend more time with each other, the attraction, the sexual tension builds between them. I just loved the push and pull between them. The banter was glorious.
Just when I thought I had figured out where the story was going, Ms. MacLean pulled a fast one on me. I knew something was up with Alec but I was unprepared for what he was actually hiding. I should have known it. It's quite obvious in a way but not really? Probably because I was so focused on Lillian's plight that I didn't pick up on the clues as to why Alec had this aversion to England in the first place.
Overall, I liked the pacing. Loved the characters and that ending was so satisfying, I wanted to go and re-read it again immediately.
ARC provided by Avon in exchange for an honest review.
I’ve read and enjoyed Sarah MacLean’s previous two series and I enjoyed the previous book in this one (The Rogue Not Taken), so I suppose she’s allowed a dud, and that is, I���m sorry to say, my overall impression of her latest book, A Scot in the Dark. The romance seems to come out of nowhere, the heroine’s actions often don’t make sense, and while it was a refreshing change to read of the hero having body-image issues, I really dislike that whole “I am not worthy” trope in romance, and it’s done to death here. Worst of all, I didn’t really like either of the protagonists. I didn’t hate them, but neither of them grabbed me and as a result, I couldn’t root for them as a couple.
Lillian Hargrove has made the mistake of falling in love with a complete and utter bastard with an ego the size of the planet and was persuaded by him to pose for a portrait in the nude, believing he wouldn’t show it to anyone else. She realises her mistake some months later at the opening of the Royal Academy’s Exhibition of Contemporary Art, when it is announced that his painting of her is the highlight of the exhibition and will be unveiled in a month’s time amid all due pomp and circumstance. Lily is naturally and immediately the subject of all sorts of horrid gossip and her reputation is in tatters.
Enter her hitherto absentee guardian, Alec Stuart, the twenty-first Duke of Warnick, who has, during the five years since he acceded to the title (owing to the utterly improbable fact that the seventeen people who stood between him and the dukedom all managed to die without issue), managed to avoid London and remain on his lands in Scotland. Having had no idea until now that he even had a ward, Alec realises that he needs to rescue Lily from certain ruin and heads off to London in order to do so.
Lily doesn’t want to be rescued –she just wants to run away, but Alec isn’t having it. He decides she should get married straight away, as having a husband will protect her reputation. Lily doesn’t want to get married either, and most of the book is spent with them not agreeing to disagree on the way to deal with the scandal that is going to get even bigger once the painting is unveiled.
Ms. MacLean has tried to do something interesting with her protagonists, which is why the book gets 3 stars and not less. We’re told that Lily is the most beautiful woman on the planet, but it’s clear that her beauty has not brought her a happy life. Lily was orphaned young, passed from pillar to post and never really cared for with the result that she has spent most of her life being ignored, in spite of her exceptionally good looks. I found it a little difficult to accept that she has never, ever had a friend, but given the fact that young women had such limited choices and that Lily was so overlooked, it’s just about within the realms of possibility that she really had spent her life alone.
Alec is six and a half feet of big, brawny Scotsman whose mother pretty much rejected him for being too big and too coarse before she died when he was a child. Large hints are dropped throughout the story that the women who find him attractive want him only for one thing – he’s good for a night of raw, lusty sex, but not good enough for anything long-term – which means he’s not good enough for Lovely Lily.
I didn’t connect with either of the principals or feel a connection between them, either. For the first forty percent of the story, Lily is standing up to Alec, defying and running away from him – until suddenly she’s all over him and they’re sucking face and fondling each other in a carriage. There’s no build up or sexual tension beforehand and their verbal exchanges are flat and devoid of any spark or chemistry.
And then there’s the fact that Lily was utterly in love with the bastard who deceived her, but ten days later is in love with Alec. Naturally, she didn’t really know what love was before. And Derek Hawkins –the cad – is such an over the top, one dimensional character that I found myself questioning Lily’s intelligence for falling for him. What we see of him is so ridiculous it’s difficult to understand how she was so taken in by him.
And – I can’t put this off any longer, but the amount of English-bashing in this book got on my nerves very quickly. Alec hates the English – his mother was English and didn’t like Scotland. She abandoned him. All the women who humiliated him were English. England is horrible, it has no redeeming features whatsoever and he hates it. I got the message early on; I didn’t need to be continually beaten over the head with it.
Ms. MacLean writes with her customary skill, and I am still intrigued by the parallels she is drawing in this series between the scandal sheets of old, and today’s celebrity culture; I liked meeting West and Georgiana again, and there’s a very much appreciated cameo from Cross. But otherwise, A Scot in the Dark was a big disappointment and I was so disconnected from it and the characters that I struggled to finish it.
This was a solid historical romance! The hero is Scottish and he inherits a dukedom, which means that he has inherited being the guardian for the heroine. Lily was in love with an artist and she believed he loved her back and would propose. Instead, he tells all of society that he has his next masterpiece to share. A naked portrait of Lily. This will ruin Lily's reputation, so the hero, Warnick, is trying to help Lily find a suitable husband. The two quickly learn they have quite the attraction for one another, but Warnick is used to people not seeing him as someone worth loving and he feels he would never be good enough for Lily. I really enjoyed their journey towards finding Lily a husband and how Lily was adamant she wanted to marry for love. Warnick would continue to push Lily away, though, because of his past and not feeling good enough. I do wish we got more depth to Warnick a bit earlier than the end, which is what ended up happening, but I did enjoy his backstory and insecurities. I wouldn't say this one was an amazing romance, but it was enjoyable to read. I feel like most books I read by Sarah Maclean are solid four star reads, and this one is the same!
Podría haber sido una novela genial. La autora tenía todos los ingredientes. Un comienzo super interesante que nos presentaba una situación de lo más inusual y que prometía una protagonista espectacular, original y novedosa con un gigantón escocés que odia Inglaterra, duque, rico y con poder al que la sociedad no soporta. ¡Y la novela empieza muy bien! Me chiflan los diálogos con puyas, divertidos, irónicos en plena batalla entre dos orgullosos que se quieren salir con la suya. Pero dos «peros» importantes: 1.- Todo transcurre en 10 días. A ver, seamos sinceros, que ella es una belleza lo sabemos en la página uno, peo que casi sea lo único que la autora realza, pues me fastidia mucho. 2.- La previsibilidad. Empiezas una historia muy original, pero durante la primera mitad ya ves que la autora ofrece una historia originalidad cero. Al final se convierte en una historia de lo más leída. 3.- Ese «vueltas y más vueltas» al mismo tiempo. Resulta cansino hasta decir basta y me ha llegado a aburrir bastante aún así es una lectura entretenida, al menos hasta casi el final.
This book is a broken promise between the author and me. The prologue and opening chapters of this book were so good. I was charmed and enraged and determined to follow these two characters to the ends of the world and hopefully a happily ever after. Somehow, I went from there to simply skimming. Bored. I was bored.
The painting is at the heart of the drama. It’s Lily’s ruin and Alec’s failing and these freaking people spend most of the book moaning and suffering from self doubt instead of coming up with a plan to get and destroy the painting.
I just don’t get it. They have a novel sized pity party and I’m like “people we have a mission.” At least we should! You know get back the freaking painting.
I have read so many historical romance novels that I know that simply marrying Lily off would not redeem her reputation! It’s an asinine plan beneath Sarah MacLean.
The reason that marrying works in other scandals is that if you’re caught in a compromising position and you’re engaged people can just say “oh, they couldn’t wait to be together” or you marry to save the child that may come of it from being a bastard. A naked painting cannot be saved by marrying not when all of the world can see her naked!!!!! Especially if she is not married to the artist.
I just couldn’t comprehend their mental state in this book. Lily is so busy trying to show Alec her independence and Alec is so worried about not deserving her that I couldn’t stop rolling my eyes. These character are not unique, but they’re in a unique situation and they don’t act according to the situation. They act according to type which was very disappointing.
The way the book ends is supposed to be some kind of act of rebellion or of a woman who would not be shamed or some other nonsense. But it’s stupid. No one in their right mind would ever do it and I rolled my eyes and literally cursed because I felt like I wasted my time on this book and this story and these characters.
The reason this is a 2 star review and not 1 star is because the author did a wonderful job of explaining and showing us loneliness. I got it. I understood why Lily made the mistakes she made, why Alec is off in Scotland though most of his titles and lands are English. Unfortunately all of that was before the book started. Still, I got it and that part was so well written.
I usually love this author but this series is not for me.
This book basically consisted of gleeful giggles while slapping my kindle on my knees.
And dreaming about Scottish knees. And drooling over Scottish knees. Why oh why do men wear pants when they could be wearing kilts?! I mean, it’s a reasonable request….from most women (and some men). The Scots know what they’re doing to us, right?! Killing us with their sexy knees!
Her gaze traveled to the edge of the fabric, drinking in the curves and dips of his knees. She swallowed, the act a challenge, wondering how it was she’d never noticed the precise shape of a knee.
Alec is a ALL Scot and hates all things English. Except her. Alec is basically a Scottish PMB (Pouty Man Bear – see Tessa Bailey’s book Worked Up for more information). He is huge, everywhere. He’s a big, brawny beast. But he’s a little sensitive about it because he has been used by women in the past and believes that he is not worthy. This is a central part of the story because it keeps him from accepting Lily’s feelings for him. Alec inherits a Dukedom after a long list of Dukes suddenly die, and Lily is part of that inheritance. She was a ward of one of the previous Dukes, so she has been passed along and forgotten by many.
Lily is known to be a true beauty of England. She begins as a naïve character, but she is jilted at the start of the story and becomes jaded. She ends up accepting that she will be lonely her entire life because of this incident. She has been forgotten and lives alone. BUT she turns out to be the strong one in this book. Alec might by huge, but Lily is a beast in her own right! She is a fighter, and I loved her. Where Alec was weak (emotionally), Lily was strong. Both Alec and Lily just want to run away from everything, but they don’t realize that they could find their escape in each other. They each spend time actually running from each other, but they always seem to come back to each other.
”I will give you everything you want, mo chridhe. Everything you need,” he promised, the words dark and low and filled with the accent he worked so hard to keep at bay with her. “I will show you heaven. But only if you let me watch you find it. That is my price.”
Knees. You get to know Alec’s knees in this book. Every inch. They are discussed several times, and it wasn’t even enough for me. I didn’t know I could have a love of knees until I met Alec. Some might relate Alec to Jamie from Outlander with the whole Scottish-sexy-knee-thing going on, but I wouldn’t know because I’m an idiot for not watching Outlander yet! Damn, I need some more Scottish knees in my life!
For something so silly, the plaid was tremendously flattering. Though, truthfully, Lily thought that it was possibly likely that a flour sack would be flattering to Alec.
The man had empirically lovely legs.
Not that she’d given much thought to men’s legs in her life. Until Alec. Now, every time she saw him in his plaid, she thought far too much about men’s legs.
It was terribly inappropriate.
I am such a loser for not reading ALL of Sarah MacLean’s books. Seriously. What have I been doing all my life when I should have been reading her books. Ok, I have read 3 of her books counting this one, but she has so many that I have not read, and I’m a loser for it. My goal is to not be a loser, so I will be reading all of her books.
ARC courtesy of publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Englishwomen were supposed to be meek and biddable.
No one had told Lillian Hargrove such a thing, apparently.
I so adore Sarah MacLean's storytelling! A Scot in the Dark has all the humor, all the romance, and all the passion I crave, and know I'll get, when reading one of her books. In all of her stories, especially this series, Ms. MacLean puts a historic twist on modern scandals, but her twists seem so much more delectable and entertaining because of 'proper society's' ridiculous reaction to them.
There's just so much to love about this author's writing, and to say I can't get enough of it it an understatement. I'm desperately looking forward to the next in the series. It can't get here soon enough!
An ARC was provided by Avon Books. In appreciation I'm giving them an honest review.
This book is absolutely ridiculous. Lily and Alec spend basically the entire time denying their feelings for the other person, then denying their own worthiness for marrying the other person. They even have sex and STILL they persist with this stupidity. I don't mind a little bit of that overused trope, but when it takes over the whole book it's too much and quite frankly it's lazy writing.
It also took way too long for Lily to come up with the bright idea of trying to find the nude painting of herself so she could destroy it before anyone else sees it. Um, wouldn't that be step 1 of things to do? Followed by step 2, murder the jerk? Just saying.
A woman on the verge of scandal, and a duke shunned by society.
As much as I did like A Scot In The Dark I feel like my dislikes are going to overwhelm what I liked about it, I'll try to keep this review balanced. While I enjoy angst as much as anyone else, I have a certain level of dislike for angst that comes with self loathing... From both characters. Self loathing can turn what was was a deliciously torturous romance filled with unfulfilled longing to a frustrating story about two characters too self absorbed to realise what is right in front of them.
Unfortunately Alec was one such character. Like I said I actually loved Alec in the beginning, his stubborn resolve and his protectiveness of Lily even while he couldn't stand her was emdearing. But his constant self hate and rationalising for him being miserable had me so frustrated. I'm not saying his feeling weren't justified or understandable, I'm just saying that I can't connect with characters like this.
“I am in the market for neither guardian nor savior. Indeed, if the last few years have taught me anything, it is that I would do well to save myself. Play my own guardian.”
I pretty much loved Lily from the beginning, her unapologetic acceptance of what had happened to her, the fact that she was lucid enough to realise she was never in the wrong. I'm thinking the author probably did that on purpose , pairing a character who wasn't afraid to take what she wanted with one who felt they didn't deserve happiness. But boy was it frustrating.
She lifted one shoulder and lowered it. “Because love is for the lucky among us.”
“What does that mean?” he said, her words rioting through him, unwelcome in their eerie truth.
“Only that I am not counted among the lucky. Everyone I have ever loved has left.”
I think firm fans of Maclean's work and even fans of drawn out angst will love this.
A Scot in the Dark by Sarah MacLean Book Two of the Scandal & Scoundrel series Publisher: Avon Publication Date: August 30, 2016 Rating: 4 stars Source: eARC from Edelweiss
***Warning: this is an adult book, and for the eyes of mature readers***
Summary (from Goodreads):
Lonesome Lily Turned Scandalous Siren
Miss Lillian Hargrove has lived much of her life alone in a gilded cage, longing for love and companionship. When an artist offers her pretty promises and begs her to pose for a scandalous portrait, Lily doesn't hesitate...until the lying libertine leaves her in disgrace. With the painting now public, Lily has no choice but to turn to the one man who might save her from ruin.
Highland Devil turned Halfhearted Duke
The Duke of Warnick loathes all things English, none more so than the aristocracy. It does not matter that the imposing Scotsman has inherited one of the most venerable dukedoms in Britain—he wants nothing to do with it, especially when he discovers that the unwanted title comes with a troublesome ward, one who is far too old and far too beautiful to be his problem.
Tartan Comes to Town
Warnick arrives in London with a single goal: get the chit married and see her become someone else's problem, then return to a normal, quiet life in Scotland. It's the perfect plan, until Lily declares she'll only marry for love...and the Scot finds that there is one thing in England he likes far too much...
What I Liked:
It's been over a month since this book published, and I'm now getting around to reading it! I've had the galley for quite some time, so this is rather irregular. When I tried to read this book several months ago, I struggled with it. I had seen some so-so reviews of the book, and I felt a bit let down. But I'm happy to say that I felt a bit differently than those reviewers! This is the second novel I've read by Sarah MacLean (the first being book one of this series, The Rogue Not Taken). So far, I've enjoyed the series!
In this novel, we have Lillian Hargrove, a ward of the Duke of Warnick, who has been an artist's muse and mistress for six months. She thought he intended to marry her, and that he loved her. She loved him, and so when he announces that a magnificent nude painting of her will be the next masterpiece, Lily is shocked. The painting will be revealed to the public in ten days, but Lily's reputation is already ruined, just as she is. The solicitor writes to the Duke of Warnick, a Scottish man who wants nothing to do with England. Alec didn't even know that he had a ward - he's the eighteenth (or something like that) Duke of Warnick, and he's not interested in being the Duke. But he comes to London to help his ward, and finds that she is just as beautiful as the rumors say. But beauty is troublesome, and Alec knows that she must marry in order to weather the scandal. But while both Alec and Lily have differing agendas, they can't seem to fight the feelings that develop.
This book was both wonderful and heartbreaking at the same time. I loved and hated the premise. Lily innocently and naively fell for an artist, an artist who only saw her as his muse. She thought he loved and her wanted to marry her, and she was totally devoted to him, in every way. My heart broke for Lily, when she realized that he was going to share the large nude painting of her. He had said that the painting was private, just for them, but then he changed his mind. Doesn't this sound familiar? Like... when a girl's nudes are leaked on the Internet, by her boyfriend or husband or someone. You trust someone with a very private part of you, with your life, and the person violates that trust.
In that sense, I love how MacLean relates a novel set in the 1800s to the current time period. Lily is the victim of a massive invasion of privacy. Yes, she sat for the painting, in the nude. But the painting was, to her knowledge, supposed to stay between her and Derek (the artist). The issue of womens' rights (or lack thereof) and sexism is very significant in this book. More than once, Lily remarks on how if a man did this or that, it wouldn't be as big a deal.
As feminist as Lily is, it was nice that she wasn't a jerk, either. Often times, romance authors will make the feminist heroine so strong and so feisty and so bull-headed... and turn the woman into a cruel jerk. Lily stood up for herself and didn't let herself get pushed around, but at the same time, she was almost always respectful and empathetic. She isn't necessarily a sweet woman, but she is mindful of manners and she isn't cruel.
Alec... Alec is such a complex character. He is swoony and sweet, selfless and protective. He is a quiet alpha; he's known for his size (over six and a half feet tall, broad, and with a Scottish brogue to boot). Alec is a very likable hero, and I liked him a lot, issues and all. By the end of the book, I wanted to cry. He constantly puts himself down, and doesn't think he is good enough for Lily. He has developed such a rigid line of thinking in terms of his self-worth. His past defines him in terms of one aspect, an aspect that rules his personal life. He pushes and pulls away from Lily, because he doesn't think he is good enough for a lifetime. It's a good thing Lily is a keeper, because as much as Alec put himself down, Lily saw him and loved him.
In that regard, I adored the romance. Yes, there were hot and cold moments, and the beginning was a little rough for these two. But their emotional progression of feelings was evident, even if this book took place in less than two weeks. The chemistry didn't show up until about halfway through the book, but it went into the story well. I really liked seeing the pair interact once they start recognizing their feelings for each other.
One of the reasons why I liked this book so much is because of how Lily fixes her own problems at the end, in terms of both the painting and Alec. The painting aspect was surprising, but not shocking, and I liked how she took charge of that. In terms of Alec... well, he's insecure about him being good enough for her, and he tries to dissuade her many times from loving him. But I LOVE how Lily sticks with Alec, and never gives up on him. She is always there, constantly fighting for him. It doesn't matter how many times he pushes her away, she never actually goes away. I love this. I love how she stood her ground and dug her heels in. Often times, you'll see a heroine run far away if the hero tells her he doesn't want her (because he's not good enough for her, or some other stupid reason). In this case, Lily is not buying that, and she sticks around. I love this! Fight for your man, girl.
I'm also really glad that Lily ended up comforting Alec as much as he comforted her. You'll see that this is one-sided, in romance novels. The girl is suffering and the guy comforts her - but the guy is working through issues and the girl never seems to comfort him. I liked seeing this support go both ways, between Alec and Lily.
Minor things that I liked -- there were no overbearing 1800s parents in this book. There were no parents, period, and I was fine with that. Lily is twenty-three and Alec is thirty-four, but both were orphaned at some point. Sometimes the parents in historical fiction novels can be SO annoying, so I was glad that that toxic presence wasn't in this book (on either side). Another thing I liked was the appearance of the Dangerous Daughters! Their friendship with Lily was so wonderful. It was nice to see some really positive female relationships, especially with all the cattiness of the ton at the time.
So! I loved Alec, his character development, Lily and her strength, the romance (it was cute), and the messages of this book. I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series!
What I Did Not Like:
I think the romance could have been stronger (and definitely sexier). It was a cute romance, and you could see the progression of feelings, but I didn't totally believe the chemistry at first. And then there was only like, two sex scenes?
One thing that I was waiting to get cleared up in the story (but never got cleared up) was an assumption/inference that Lily is led to believe, about Alec and something he did/didn't do (those who have read the book should know what I'm talking about). It never got cleared up - and you can't tell me that Lily didn't care. I would care!
Would I Recommend It:
While this isn't necessarily a new favorite of mine, I liked this book a lot. Initially, I couldn't get into the story because I was deterred by some reviews (and the premise of the book, if I'm being honest). But I'm glad I gave this book a chance! It's an enjoyable story with a lot of meaning behind it, and a wonderful cast of characters with a cute romance.
4 stars. I don't think MacLean is on my auto-read authors list (yet?), but after two books I can definitely see the hype surrounding her. I'll stick with this series and then branch out to some of her backlist titles eventually. I'm excited to read book three - the premise sounds intriguing! A little unconventional, but it has my attention.
Bayıla bayıla okuyabileceğim skandal konuyu, Alec’in kalın kafası ve korkaklığı yüzünden sinir olarak okudum. Lily iyi sabretti valla. Ben olsam, Alec’i günde 5 posta ıslak tuvalet terliğiyle mi dövsem, fırıncı küreğiyle mi karar veremezdim.😒😒
Sarah ne yazsa okurum -ki kadının, Kibir Dükü Simon’ın olduğu kitaba bile 5 verdirmişliği vardır- ama Alec karar verene kadar ruhumu emdi. Konuya ve Lily’ye 4, Alec’e 2 verdim.🙊🙊
Bir de not düşeyim; çeviri çok kötüydü. Bugüne kadar okuduğum en özensiz Sarah çevirisiydi sanırım. Anlamak için, paragrafları döne döne baştan okuduğum yerler oldu. Bütün ‘HE-SHE’ler ‘O’, bütün ‘HIS-HER’ler ‘ONUN’ diye çevrilmişti. Haliyle bir paragraf boyunca anlattığı duygunun, yüz ifadesinin ya da kolun-bacağın-kaşın-gözün Alec’e mi, Lily’ye mi ait olduğunu anlayana kadar ciddi bir beyin fırtınası yaptım.🙄🙄
An enjoyable enough one time read that had the potential to be super tantalising and compelling, but there was just something missing, that being said it did do wonders when it came to helping me escape from my reality of never ending assignment marking!
I love my historical romance reads, but sometimes, I just want to jump into my book and punch a few aristocrats in the nose. The gentlemen thrive on the power they wield by making women dependant on their good nature. Then, we have ladies who use their wiles to manipulate, intimidate and discombobulate her opponents to achieve her place in society. A title holds power, money helps you stand out in a crowd and if your witty barbs hit before the return fire can do damage, there's a good chance you're a success.
Unfortunately, most characters I've met and become close to are dependant on a gentleman's good nature or have been manipulated, intimidated or discombobulated. They're attacked by their peers, have money issues (too much or not enough) and strive for power (of the ton kind). I'm left wiping my eyes from the pain they've suffered or glaring at my Kindle in frustration. Historical romances have the power to swivel my emotions from love to hate with the turn of a page.
Listening to A Scot in the Dark left me wrung out and exhausted. Of course, I was stuck on a train to work when my world...I mean Lilly's world, fell apart. At first, I was a little squinty-eyed at her naivety but as I kept reading, my heart broke for her. She's the most beautiful girl in England...and nobody loves her. She did not deserve what she was put through. No woman deserves to have her privacy invaded and her image used for gain, without her knowledge. I couldn't help but think (for the billionth time) I'm thankful that times have changed.
I would call this one a slow burn romance. These two knuckleheads were competing against each other on who was the more scandalous. Obviously, Lilly's scandal is winning because it's hovering overhead and has the power to turn from a storm to a hurricane. But, Alec's scandal isn't far behind because he won't let it die. He wears his scandal like a kilt. It gives him the freedom to act recklessly, knowing that he couldn't ruin his reputation more. But, a strong gust of wind can expose his secrets, leaving him cold and vulnerable.
So, we spend a lot of time fighting scandal and hoping that we'll come out the other side in one piece. I really liked Lilly and Alec and knew they were meant for each other. I loved seeing into their minds and knowing their innermost thoughts and feelings. I hated that they felt so much shame and that the ton felt justified to ridicule them. It was just so emotional and I loved every minute of it.
The storyline kept my attention from the very beginning to the very end. I loved the main characters and enjoyed catching up with the additional characters we previously met in the Scandal and Scoundrel first instalment. Even though it was a slow burn, when it caught fire...it really...caught...fire.
The narrator does an OK job. I was surprised that I became a little confused when Alec was inner-monologuing. When he's talking, the narrator changes her voice to a man with a Scottish accent (of course) but his inner voice is her normal talking voice. I'm not sure I've had this issue before, but I found myself getting confused over who's inner thoughts I was hearing Lilly's or Alec's?
It's a Sarah MacLean, so, of course, I loved it. Her characters come to life and I become emotionally involved with their love story. I highly recommend A Scot in the Dark.
Title: A Scot in the Dark Series: Scandal & Scoundrel #2 Author: Sarah MacLean Release date: August 30, 2016 Cliffhanger: No HEA
Historical romance fans, I have a confession: this is my first book by Sarah MacLean. I know, I know. Shocking! I've really moved away from the genre for the most part, but I was looking for an author that I could explore and get me more integrated into reading it more. My first impression was a good one. While I didn't love this particular story, I liked it and I did see the talent in her storytelling.
I think my main issue was not seeing some real development in the progression of antagonistic ward and guardian to two people who were deeply in love. For me at least, I wasn't able to feel much for them as a couple when I wasn't shown significant reasons why Lily suddenly moved her feelings to a new man.
After falling head over heels for a really contemptible artist who used and publicly ruined her in the worst way, it doesn't take her long to feel so desperate for another man that she throws herself at him. When you think about the shame she's currently feeling for the public scorn she is enduring, I can't help but feel doubt that she would risk history repeating itself. There was absolutely no encouragement on his part to show her that he returned her feelings. Aside from some brief physical things that happened between them, he consistently tried to keep his distance from her.
He was her guardian. She was his ward. And English at that. She was not for him.
Which brings me to a second thing that didn't sit well with me. Alec (like Lily) is the product of many years of being conditioned to think that he was worthless. Both having their own reasons for being lonely and yearning to feel a close connection to another, they were drawn to what they saw mirrored in each other. Alec especially, had low self-esteem. Throughout the book, it's clear that a part of his past leaves him ashamed and feeling unworthy of Lily's love. It was a constant thing seeing him express how she could never be for him, he was just a beastly Scottish brute. In the end, it really felt repetitive and I didn't need it driven home quite so much.
One of the things I really enjoyed about the book was the author's lovely style of writing. There were so many quotes that I found beautiful and had to highlight. It's so richly romantic and with the right set of characters, I could easily see myself falling in love with one of her books.
Alec made her feel as though she was the sun, hot and bright at the center of a universe. His universe.
He kissed her like she was air. Like she was all he'd ever wanted. Like she was temptation and sin and he could not stop himself.
I found the themes she explored in the book to be worthwhile and very relevant for the time period as well as relatable to modern day. The sexual double standard of men and women is something that is still going strong. Men, able to sleep with whomever they wish, whenever they want. While women are seen in a completely different light. As well, she wrote a heroine who wasn't a damsel in distress. She didn't want to be rescued. Rather, she took a stand and resolved her own problems. She had a strength of character and courage that I really admired.
Of course, she was the instrument of her own saving. She was magnificent enough to save herself and the world in the balance. If only she could save him as well.
While I wasn't quite a believer in their romance and I didn't completely love it, I still found things that I appreciated and am looking forward to checking out more of this author's work.
3.5 stars I didn't like this as much as the previous book and I'd thought I'd love this one. I think it was the nonstop way the Duke, Alec, kept leaving Lily and telling her no to her feelings. He was one big tease.
Lily is the ward of the Duke of Warnick and she's caused a scandal by being the gf of a douchey artist guy who is about to show a nude painting of her to the world. Problem is the douchey artist has reneged on his promise of marriage and she never gave permission for her nude portrait to be exhibited. It doesn't help that Lily is common born with no family or title to protect her.
Enter Alec, the Duke of Warnick, who's just learned he has a ward, Lily, and needs to save her from scandal and ruin. His solution is to marry her off. She's not feeling that plan having just been betrayed by her lover and former fiancé. But Alec insists and sets about forcing her to go on dates and out to balls, etc. Just what a girl living in shame that everyone is gossiping about wants to do, be in public with people talking about her behind her back. I found Alec to be nice, but annoying in how he kept saving Lily from different events, saying super nice and sweet things and then abruptly leaving her. He's all you're the greatest, blah blah blah, you're the hottest let's make out, blah blah blah, but you're not for me, I'm outta here. It's like Prince Charming telling Cinderella he can't marry her after going through the search to find her with her missing glass slipper. It's retarded how often Alec does this to her. He's a giant tease with his affections and keeps pushing her to marry someone else. Yeah, it's all because he feels unworthy, but it's shitty how he engages with Lily and then leaves her. And this is a girl who's an orphan and has been neglected and ignored for a decade. Not cool, not cool at all.
Lillian, hmm, I liked her verbal sparring with Alec, and her eagerness to be loved, but I didn't like her choice at the end. The ending choice she made was dumb, sure, it was all I'm an independent woman, blah blah blah, but the first solution would've been funnier and more revenge exacting. There was no good revenge on Hawkins and that makes me unhappy. I also wish she'd hit Alec over the head a few times for being an ass who kept leaving her. His "it's not you, it's me" speech got old. He also said some things that were basically slut shaming which is not cool, not cool at all. I understood why Lily was so desperate to be loved, or even simply have a friend and it shows in her behavior with Alec. It was quite sad really how she was with him because she's so neglected by everyone. I do still wish she'd kicked him a few times.
Liked this one, but I got tired of Lily having to chase Alec for his affection. Too much back and forth and no good revenge in the end.
This book had all the ingredients that should spell a good romance, but unfortunately it was executed poorly. I love the concept of this series by taking modern day scandals and adapting them for the Victorian era, and I have generally loved Sarah Maclean's series concepts and characters a lot. But unfortunately I've really found the two books in this series lacking.
The positives: It was a fun book. It had really fun supporting characters like the Talbot sisters, I liked seeing West and a cameo by Georgiana at the end. (I don't care for King). And I always feel like Sarah Maclean does world building really well.
I liked Lily. She had backbone, and she delivers a great speech at the end to Alec about why she did what she did with the painting after finding it, the nude painting that could ruin her life forever. The book also addresses, in its Victorian era way, how the issue of nudes/sex tapes should be dealt with. They are meant for the people who made it, and putting it out in public is an invasion of privacy.
Alec was so whiny. Look. I am all up for a good intense and angsty hero. Alec had a backstory of not great parents and a fucked up school life. But I never felt like it was well developed, it was just a lot of repetition of "i'm not worthy of her I'm not worthy of her, I'm so far beneath her".
I GET that a lof of self made heroes or low born heroes think like that, but there comes to a point where you have got to decide if you will let the woman CHOOSE AND DECIDE WHAT IS GOOD ENOUGH FOR HER. AND ALSO IF YOU REALLY LOVED HER YOU WOULD DECIDE THAT YOU WOULD DO YOUR BEST TO BE WHAT'S RIGHT FOR HER.
And then I didn't really think the relationship worked It was really not very well developed as a result of Alec's headspace. So even though all the ingredients were there for a good romance, it just stagnated early on and the ending felt really rushed so it was disappointing.
'A Scot in the Dark' is book two in the "Scandal & Scoundrel" series by Sarah MacLean. This is the story of Miss Lillian Hargrove and Alec The Duke of Warnick. Lillian has been alone most of her life and has been handed down by each Duke of Warnick that took over her Guardianship. So when a flirty man takes interest in her she falls for what he is saying and ends up letting him make a nude portrait of her. Which after he does it he pretty much done with her and plans to use it to make his work known so that he can be a famous artist. Alec comes to investigate this new ward that he has taken over after being appointed the new Duke. He find a beautiful Lillian who is knee deep in scandal. Alec has his own issue with not feeling like he is good enough to have a wife and some personal confidence issue too. But Alec hopes to get Lillian married off fast and go back to Scotland where he fits in more than in England. Can these two work things out and overcome what is keeping them apart? Another great book by Ms. MacLean.
A Café au Drambuie review of A Scot in the Dark A Café au Drambuie is a Scottish coffee. To prepare you will need a heated wine glass. Add 3 dessertspoons of Drambuie Whiskey and stir in one level dessertspoon of light brown sugar. Add fresh strong coffee leaving about an inch of glass exposed below the rim. Stir until sugar dissolves. Next place teaspoon upside down over glass and slowly pour double cream over spoon so that it floats on the surface. Enjoy! Today I am breaking my review down into these ingredients. Like the beverage MacLean has mixed the perfect blend.
Drambuie Whiskey: A scandal surrounding a scandalous portrait involving one Miss Lillian Hargrove has the Duke of Warnick, a Scot unwilling traveling to London to set things right. Ooo MacLean creates the most colorful characters and from the very first pages, I was quite smitten with both. The tale that unfolds brings laughter, banter, snark, and an attraction that befuddles them both. It was exquisite. Light Brown Sugar: The thread regarding the painting and the pompous painter added some suspense and the twist MacLean delivered made me grin. I loved the added notes from the author sharing what inspired this story. Strong Coffee: Warnick seeks to marry of Lily and resolve himself of this pesky problem only Lily has other ideas. As these two butted heads, and began to tango, I found myself laughing aloud. Even Warnick’s dogs seem to be betraying him. While I never had any doubt how this tale would play out, MacLean added twists, discoveries, and games to keep me flipping the pages. Friends of the Duke and characters from previous books offer advice and befriend Lily. Of course they also had great fun watching these two fall. Double cream:A Scot in the Dark had all the elements I love in a romance. First, the characters were flawed, strong, and clever .As MacLean revealed their flaws, I fell completely. The romance had a slow build as watched them struggle with passionate thoughts. Stolen moments led to heated moments that melted my kindle. I loved that Lily knew what she wanted and seeing our Scot fall was sinful.
So are we really doing this, Ms. Maclean? Are we really going to tackle about a brooding, sexy, wicked Scot falling in love? Are we really going to take that wonderful character of the first book and give him his own wonderful story to tell?
If you insist, I'll be here waiting - you know, beyond excited.
*I gave this audiobook a B- for both the narration and story at AudioGals*
Narrated by Justine Eyre
Historical romance fans who enjoy the “guardian falls in love with his ward” stories, as well as a good dose of tongue in cheek humor based on improbable facts and play on words, will be the most intrigued by A Scot in the Dark. That said, this story provides an interesting twist to this common trope by presenting us with a ward who is more a woman (in her twenties) than a girl.
As for the narration, if you have listened to Justine Eyre before, you know that she has a very distinctive sound. For the most part I enjoyed her narration, though I must admit that at several points where the hero is described as having a heavy Scottish brogue, I had a bit of trouble discerning what he was saying. So if you’re interested in trying this title, I suggest you listen to a sample of it first before going for the audio version. (Editor’s note: the SoundCloud sample below does not have the hero’s voice, but the Audible.com sample does.)
Really disappointing. No vicarious fun to be had. Excessively damaged main characters. She has no guts and wants to run away. He has no guts and goes on about "I'm not worthy, I'm not worthy" spreading misery with his self-loathing. Nah, nothing here for me.
Pe Alec, ducele de Warnick, îl cunosc încă din primul volum al seriei. Și încă de atunci mi-a stârnit curiozitatea. Un munte scoțian, parcă dăltuit în piatră, veșnic glumeț și pus pe șotii. Asta, până când primește o notificare precum că ducatul are o pupilă despre a cărei existență nu a fost informat, iar aceasta are acum nevoie de protecția lui. Astfel, sosește la Londra, unde are parte de surprize una peste alta, surprize ce-i dau complet viața peste cap. O cunoaște pe Lily, o tânără deosebit de frumoasă, care a reușit să îl subjuge dintr-o privire, chiar dacă, la prima vedere, cei doi par a nu se înțelege absolut deloc. Odată ce descoperă care este scandalul în care tânăra este implicată, ducele nostru este hotărât să o căsătorească înainte ca întreaga Londră să afle că această tânără a pozat nud unui artist. Avem parte de o gamă variată de emoții și aventuri ce ne permit să îi cunoaștem pe cei doi, să le aflăm cele mai bine păzite secrete și să fim martorii luptei lor contra atracției care-și face simțită prezența. Ca orice scoțian destoinic, Alec luptă din toate puterile, dar la final cedează pe altarul iubirii pe care i-o oferă Lily. O lectură plină de savoare, umor, emoții profunde și răni ale trecutului pe care împreună reușesc să și le vindece. Impresiile mele aici: https://justreadingmybooks.wordpress....
Sarah MacLean does it again! How does she do it? Seriously, I'm a writer and I want to know the secret. It's the sweeping emotions. The larger-than-life hero. The downtrodden heroine who I care about so deeply. I can't say more than that because the book isn't out yet...but this one is truly spectacular. The biggest, boldest, most passionate Sarah MacLean yet. Can't recommend it enough.