They are a dangerous duke, a fierce lord, and an infamous earl—dark, bold, brave men who know exactly what they want. And there is only one woman who can bring them to their knees...
He is first and foremost—at everything. A man who's made his own way in the world through ruthless cunning and sheer force of will. A strong and imposing Scot who can turn on the charm but does not suffer fools. His title: Lord Chief Justice of the High Court. His name: Cassius Gerard Ramsay. His mission: To investigate the goings-on at London's most notorious gaming hell, owned and operated by one of the most intriguing and desirable women he's ever met.
IN THIS GAME OF LOVE, THE RULES DO NOT APPLY
Cecelia Teague was an orphan facing a rather dire future—until a secret benefactor from her mother's scandalous past swept into her life. Sent to prestigious boarding school and later to university, Cecelia believed high society was at her fingertips...Then, from out of nowhere, she became the inheritor of a gambling establishment. Now Cecelia must live two lives: one as a proper lady who finds herself undeniably drawn to Lord Ramsay and the other as a savvy gaming hell owner trying to save her business from the very same man. He has no idea she is both women...and Cecelia would like to keep it that way. But what happens when consuming passion and escalating danger threaten to reveal the truth?
If you're anything like me, the best night is one spent with a brawny highlander, a mysterious werewolf, a conflicted vampire, or a hot-headed Irishman. My stories span the spectrum of romantic fiction from historical, to paranormal, to romantic suspense. But I can always promise my readers one thing: memorable and sexy Celtic heroes who are guaranteed to heat your blood before they steal your heart. Lose yourself in the enchanted Celtic Isles, you never know who, or what, will find you...
the more the year goes on, the harder it gets for me to know what to rate things. not sure if it's apathy or if i'm not trusting myself.
but this was solid. i don't think i enjoyed it as much as the first book in the series, but if you're looking for a historical romance that is a bit less fluffy than something like tessa dare i think you will like this series. there's a sense of intrigue or adventure in each of them, and the heroines are kick ass. i think the hero in this one was a little.. meh for me, which kept this from being something i truly loved. i also felt that the initial set up was a little confusing with regards to timeline.
don't regret reading this though! and interested to see what francesca's book is like.
Warning! Highly unpopular opinion coming up - and spoilers.
Lordy, this was a mess. The plot was poorly conceptualised, the characters underdeveloped and while I love most things purple, the Ms Byrne's prose suffered from a serious case of violaceous overdose even though red is the favoured colour of the story - as in The Red Rogues (red-haired heroine and her two best friends who for some reason label themselves as rogues and adopt male pet names), the Crimson Council, the Scarlet Lady (heroine's inherited alter ego). I am familiar with her writing - the dramas, the angst, the embellished prose. What I've sampled in the past, I did enjoy. This unfortunately did not work out for me at all.
The basic gist is that she's an orphan whose university education had been sponsored by a mysterious benefactor, who turned out to be her maternal aunt. When the latter passed away, Cecilia inherits the fortune, her business (gambling hell and more) and becomes the new Scarlet Lady. The hero, Ramsay, is the Lord Chief Justice of the High Court who has spent much of his professional career investigating the Scarlet Lady and her dealings and suspected link to the evil Crimson Council, a shady entity of unknown powerful persons thought to be responsible for the disappearance of young girls and human trafficking. After this rough sketching of the plot, Ms Byrne unfortunately failed to bring her renderings into sharp focus. Instead they remain vague, highly abstract and colourless.
So much didn't make sense. My reading was forever interrupted by me making furious and frustrated notes about the inconsistencies and disjointed plot and huge leaps of inference. That and me nodding off to sleep every few paragraphs.
Cecilia's character was all over the place. Towards Ramsay she was flirtatious, then fearful and intimidated, then back to coquettish, then back to distrustful and scared, all the while feeling lustful of course. Floating adrift and directionless for so long after achieving her university degree in mathematics, she desperately grabbed hold of the notion of running her aunt's establishment without having the faintest idea what she's getting herself into, not knowing whether it might be a front for procuring and selling young girls to the sex trade. Yet she inexplicably and blindly defended this legacy against Ramsay's line of questioning without even taking any time out to investigate the truth. She reacted without blinking to the fact the little girl, her ward whom she also inherited from her aunt, shared her surname and instantly developed an attachment to her. No questions asked. She was supposed to keep her identity as the new Scarlet Lady apart from her other life as bookish Cecilia Teague of the Red Rogues fame, but then brought her two fellow rogues to the den for an open inspection, making it obvious to everyone to draw the connection. Then she readily allowed herself to be whisked off to Scotland and deserted her new business mere days after inheriting (still clueless to the running of the place), after she fought so hard with Ramsay to keep it running and viable. And what's with the constant blubbering? Get hold of your emotions, woman!
Ramsay's character did not fare much better. He was the Lord Chief Justice but behaved like a Bow Street Runner, doing all the dirty street work himself. He had apparently been in his role for years and had amassed a fortune after coming from extremely humble beginnings. Who knew Chief Justices earned so much money. However, despite investigating The Scarlet Lady and her business dealings for many years, he was clueless to the fact that Cecilia had no deep (or even superficial) knowledge of the running of the place. In fact, for a guy who rose to the top presumably because he was good at his job, he missed a lot of obvious clues (like the fact that Phoebe was not really Cecilia's daughter for so many reasons). He pressed her for knowledge of who might want to harm her, believing she knew more than she let on, but then in the next scene, he suspected she was responsible for the bomb exploding wrecking part of her business. Why on earth would she want to bomb her own place? He was supposed to be this hard and cynical man but turned out mushier than porridge, considering marriage to her after one kiss and readily confessed his feelings to his brother and Cecilia herself.
Then there's the villain himself, linked to the wicked Crimson Council by the most tenuous of clues Eh, so should that not put Ramsay himself under suspicion? Or just maybe, they were both fooled by the same guy? And how do we go from this low level suspicion to conclusively declaring him to be the criminal mastermind a few chapters later, when no other evidence had been unearthed since Ramsay himself was distracted by the lovely attractions of Cecilia to continue any further investigative work?
The little girl's speech fluctuated between childlike to highly sophisticated and wise for a seven year old. As for the prose:
"Pain pierced where the heart should be. Tears leaked where her eyes should be. "
Okay, so her heart feels empty now, I get that, but where the hell did her eyes disappear to??? The mental image is seriously freaking me out!
Ehhhh. I didn't like Ramsay. At all. He pretty much ticks off every single box on my personal list of things that I don't want in a man. He's this priggish dude that doesn't drink or have sex, can't wait to toss people in jail for the shit they did wrong, and doesn't trust women. <--especially whores
So, yeah. I mean, I'm sure that there is someone out there who would love to spend their time fixing that sort of mess, but that chick isn't me. There's something about a prudish man that simply grosses me out. As far as I'm concerned, he might as well be covered in lumps or open, weeping sores. I know Byrne described him as this attractive giant Scottsman, but I kept seeing this:
Ok. All the other parts of the story were great. Byrne hasn't really knocked my socks off with any of her male characters yet, but she does have a talent for writing women. Very strong, very cool, very interesting women. Cecelia was top-notch. She was soft and wonderful and loyal, but she had backbone for days. In the end, when she wouldn't give up her dreams for his? I loved her even more.
Plus, you've got this great group of female friends who aren't intrusive or weird backing her up. Excellent characters that set a good example of what we should all want in our girlfriends. You gotta have people who will help you hide the body.
The plot is interesting and well-written and I enjoyed listening to it despite not liking the male lead, so if you (like me) are a fan of Byrne's romances you'll still probably want to check this one out.
I adored this book with my whole heart!!! I just love the way Kerrigan Byrne writes, and she has yet to let me down. We've got a gigantic Scottish grump of a hero who grows utterly obsessed with our kindhearted, fierce sunshine of a heroine. I love this kind of hero – he might be a grump to everyone else in the world, but he will turn into the mushiest, most tender sweetheart when it comes to the heroine (and her ward). And hello, age gap! This has all my favorite tropes in one book.
If you love your historical romances with passion, intrigue, and a good dose of angst, you need to read this book. Hell, you need to read all of Kerrigan Byrne's historicals. I love the concept of this series surrounding our three heroines, nicknamed the Red Rogues, and cannot wait for our third and final lady's story, about Francesca, to come out!
Some of my very favourite stories have given me a hero that I vow to never fall in love with… until, of course, I do. Then, I’m questioning how I could have ever doubted my eternal love and even on re-reads chortle at my initial doubts. What rage I felt at our introduction when he brings a tear to my eye with his thoughtless comments, turns into *Oh, the poor man is so misunderstood…* In All Scot and Bothered, Cassius had me swinging from rage, to confusion, to sympathy. The poor man just needed someone to love.
I think the main reason I love a story with a hero that I grow to love, is that it shows a man with imperfections. Hubby broke a beer bottle last night because he was trying to carry 3 bottles at once. While I was a little frustrated when it happened, it was a nice reminder that Hubby is not perfect. That man can be an absolute pain in the butt with all his sweet and thoughtful ways. He cooks, he cleans, he parents well, AND he’s also a loving husband. So bloody frustrating. I cook when I absolutely must, I clean at a surface level, I parent my boys, AND I love hubby, but he just makes it look so easy. Dropping that bottle of beer just brings him down from bloody perfect to slightly imperfect.
Cassius Gerard Ramsay takes pride in being right and just and a man without fault. If only he could fit through doors with that big head of his. OK, I’m probably being a bit harsh, he thinks he has a few faults. This man with few faults, suddenly finds a woman who makes him feel like a hormone-driven, bumbling fool and messes with his perfectly structured world. If he’s not careful, he may even start thinking that his perfect world is not so perfect without her playing havoc in it.
Cecilia is a Red Rogue and proud of it. From a harsh and unloving childhood, finding her two red-headed friends couldn’t have happened at a better time. These three friends formed a bond that meant the sharing of secrets and having each other’s back at the worst of times. Cecilia is a smart and strong woman in her own right, but knowing she always has a Red Rogue to support her, makes her stronger. One of the best things about Cecilia is her big heart. Even with her terrible upbringing, it never made her want to share her misfortunes. If anything, it made her even more sweet and caring.
What I found exceptionally well done in All Scot and Bothered, is the way Kerrigan Byrne dealt with body image. Cassius is an extremely large man and finds Cecilia’s tall, curvy, and strong body perfect and very appealing. Instead of Cecilia’s character being all about her weight, she is extremely intelligent, spectacle-wearing, and mostly comfortable in her skin. Again, I find myself a little picky when it comes to curvy characters. I don’t want it to be ALL about their size but I don’t want it to be completely ignored either. Lust, desire, and attraction are an individual thing. No one is the same and what one might find attractive, another might find unattractive.
Cassius and Cecilia are a perfect match…once you get past the insults, awkward misunderstandings, and bombs exploding. All Scot and Bothered was a story that gripped me from the first page to the last. While Cassius took a wee bit of time to love, with more understanding of his history, it was hard not to love him by the end. Cecilia was a warm, intelligent, and giving person who was always concerned for the wellbeing of others. When Cecilia’s life is in danger, Cassius puts aside all of his preconceived ideas and judgements to protect her. Their time together forces them to face their attraction to each other and deal with their pasts that have shaped their lives up until now. Like all successful couples, they must learn to communicate, make sacrifices and trust each other.
I loved this fast-paced, emotional, and sexy story, with characters that came to life for me. The additional characters were well developed, and I came to love a few of them and hope to see them more in the future. Cassius and Cecilia were strong characters that did have their vulnerabilities. While they originally believed that change was the only way they would work, it’s soon obvious, that changing each other could destroy what they have come to love.
It’s not a secret that I’m a fan of Kerrigan Byrne’s words. Her stories take me from the lowest of lows, with tears, and sniffles galore, to the highest of highs, with my heart bursting, and smiles and sighs of delight. All Scot and Bothered ticked all my boxes and left me extremely satisfied. I can’t wait for more in the Devil You Know series.
Stacey is Sassy, received an advanced copy of this story. The copy provided is not the final copy and may be subject to edits and changes.
If you have read any of my reviews, you know my favorite Hs are tall, dark, built, and with a brogue :) Cassius Gerard Ramsay, self-made man and Lord Chief Justice of the High Court hits 3/4 of those (he's blond - not holding that against him) ;) Though he is certainly not without flaws... His childhood was less than ideal in that his mother essentially abandoned him, and his father drank himself to death. His step-father (a duke who fell for his mother's "charms") eventually brought him into the new family fold and sent him to finishing school and on to college; this enabled Ramsay to make good on the promise he made himself: he would be someone important and he would not compromise his very high moral standards in order to achieve his goals. Thus, Ramsay has been nicknamed the "Vicar of Vice" - he is literally all work and no play, at least since he was betrayed nearly 8 years ago by a woman. Since then, he has been on a mission to clean up the streets of London, starting with the Scarlet Lady who runs a "school" that he is convinced is a cover for a house of ill repute that might be guilty of an even more atrocious crime: selling young girls to the highest bidder.
Cecelia Teague has just inherited Miss Henrietta’s School for Cultured Young Ladies with the passing of her benefactor. While it is an actual school, it's connected to a gaming hell that funds the education of women and young ladies who would otherwise not have the opportunity to advance themselves. As a highly educated mathematician, Cecelia is passionate about keeping the school open to help those in need, but one of her best friend's new brother-in-law is dead set on closing it down. Cecelia first met Cassius Ramsay at the wedding of Alexandra to the Duke of Redmayne (the H/h couple from book 1 of this series), who happens to be Ramsay's younger half-brother. She immediately felt a connection to Ramsay unlike she ever had with anyone in the past, but his seemingly cold demeanor and lack of flexibility in life has put her off a bit though she is certain there is more to him than he lets on. And at a recent gathering, he proves it by passionately kissing her. But now he is on a mission to shut down her benefactor's life's work. Can Cecelia convince Ramsay that he does not have to be so black and white about everything? Will Ramsay be willing to trust another woman after his own mother and former fiancee betrayed him? And what will happen when a mysterious group known as the Crimson Council threatens to destroy them both?
Things I liked: --- The main characters were likeable in general and were a good match --- I love the "gentle giant" type that goes all alpha protector when his lady is in danger, and Ramsay DEFINITELY delivers there --- The Red Rogues (the group that Cecelia, Alexandra, and Francesca formed as girls in school) ride again! (It was fun to have both women involved in the story) --- Mystery & intrigue abound!
Things I didn't like as much: --- Cecelia was very concerned about her body image throughout the story - I understand that the man who raised her to age 13 was cruel and taunted her about her weight, but her constant worries about it was at odds with her "devil may care/I do what I want" attitude in life and it detracted from the story to an extent --- also a pet peeve of mine that the cover model does not reflect the "curvy/chunky" descriptions of her AT ALL --- While I liked the mystery going on in the story, when everything came together, it felt really rushed and a little silly that no one knew anything about this group (the Crimson Council) that is supposedly centuries old
Overall, a solid story by a great author with almost all of the elements I enjoy most in my romances! I am looking forward to Francesca's story to conclude this trilogy!
Plot --- 4/5 Main Characters --- 4/5 Supporting Cast --- 5/5 Steam Level* --- 3.5/5 Violence --- nothing graphic Language --- some (f word) POV --- 3rd
*Note that steam level is not a rating so much as a how hot was it: 0/5 - clean; 1/5 - mild (nothing descriptive); 2/5 - 3rd base action/1 home run; 3/5 - now we're getting somewhere (a couple of full-on steamy scenes); 4/5 - yes please! (erotica territory); 5/5 - they did EVERYTHING in this one, y'all
I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
I truly love everything that Kerrigan Byrne writes, so I was going into All Scot and Bothered with very high expectations. Though it took me a little while to get into the groove with this story, I'm happy to report that it fully won me over in the end.
The plot threw me for a loop, as it's... complicated, to say the least. I was trying to figure out how all of these unbelievable pieces would fit together. Sure, I think it got overly muddled at times, but I eventually got into the groove of things and became immersed in these characters.
Kerrigan Byrne writes characters with Angst, that's right, capital A. Her characters usually have to crawl their way back from hell, and I liked that she pulled no punches with this story. Both of these MCs have suffered in the past, and it made their happiness that much sweeter.
I absolutely love that we got a curvaceous heroine. Not someone who has a little extra meat on her bones, but a thick woman with curves for days. It's what I needed in my life. And the hero loves every inch of her and craves a woman like that. Yes, please! I also adored the enemies-to-lovers plotline, and the uptight male MC who was hiding a passionate soul. Just the type of characters I love to read about.
Put aside some of your logic to make the plot work and you'll be a happy camper, just like me. I swear, Kerrigan Byrne can do no wrong.
This book took me over two weeks to finish (I had to pick up some other ARCs in between and life just got in the way), but I loved every second of this historical romance!
From the start, I loved Cecelia's character. As usual for Kerrigan Byrne, this one has a pretty dark start and there is a trigger warning for abuse. Cecelia is a plus-size heroine and is condemned for that as a child, but she embraces her body as an adult and just wants to live a happy life. I really love her friendship with her two best friends and how we saw the couple from book one so much in this book! It was also adorable how close Cecelia was to the little girl and the father-like figure in her life.
The premise of this book was so fun. Cecelia and Ramsay were falling for each other as themselves, but Ramsay detested Cecelia as her persona that has inherited a gaming hell that may be hiding something dark. Ramsay has no idea the two people he interacts with are the same and is falling for the very woman he claims to detest and want to bring down. Talk about angst! The romance had me swooning. While some of the steamy scenes included some cheesy descriptions, I still enjoyed their romance. There was also quite a bit of suspense in here, which I always love in my romances.
I cannot rave any more about this series! And with the ending of this book, I'm already dying for book three!
As a young girl, Cecelia Teague was rescued from the home of the man she’d believed was her father, an extremely cruel man who’d treated her miserably following her mother’s death. She was placed in a Swiss school for girls where she became lifelong friends with two other redheads, calling themselves the Red Rogues. Her benefactor remained unknown until now when she’s learned that person has died and left her a gambling hell. Unfortunately, that’s placed her in the sights of Lord Cassius Ramsay, the Justice of the High Court, whose mission is to destroy the establishment...and its owner.
Ramsay is the half brother of Piers Atherton, the Duke of Redmayne, who is also married to Alexandra, one of the Red Rogues. Cecelia and Ramsay crossed paths at a dinner they had at their home and shared a close moment. When he confronted her at the gambling hell, she was in disguise so it took awhile for him to learn that the owner and Cecelia were one and the same. There was so much intrigue and subterfuge in this story that it made it extremely interesting, especially when it became clear Cecelia was in danger.
Cecelia is a tall, voluptuous woman who goes against the grain of the typical heroine. She’s brainy with a strong aptitude for mathematics. She was a formidable force with a velvet glove and confounded Ramsay at ever juncture. I liked their interactions, even though I despised his cruelty at times. What I loved most about the story was that it’s unconventional, even down to the ending that was chock full of surprises. Add to that, it’s narrated by Derek Peters, who lends so much authenticity to the characters and delivers another exceptional performance. I love this series and especially liked these two characters who were given a great, creative story to highlight their romance.
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
For in the eyes of her father, the sin was hers. The original sin. She’d been born a girl.
The Devil You Know series follows the self titled Red Rogues, Alexandra (How to Love a Duke in Ten Days), Cecelia, and Francesca. Cecelia lived in misery with her vicar father until she was taken away by a woman claiming to be acting on the behalf of her late mother's sister. Cecelia is sent to an all girl's school where she becomes bestfriends with Alexandra and Francesca, bonded through their red-hair and a dark secret, they carry that friendship through life. Cecelia also becomes attached to the school's caretaker and Jean-Yves becomes a father figure for her and a pseudo guardian to the Red Rogues.
The half brother of the hero from book one, Cassius Gerard Ramsay, Lord Chief Justice of the High Court, meets and becomes entranced by Cecelia. He's an extremely by-the-book man who is rigid, dark, and gruff. He has a severe distrust of women due to his mother abandoning him and being betrayed by the only woman he thought he loved. However, his enthrallment with Cecelia has him contemplating marriage with her pretty quickly, until he discovers a secret that makes him think she is just like all the other women in his life.
He leaned even closer, his breath indeed hot on her ear. “Ye’ll find, Miss Teague, that I’m a man without mercy.”
Although second in the series, I do think a new reader to the series wouldn't be too lost starting here. Francesca's family was murdered and there was still that lingering plot thread from the first but I was actually disappointed how it wasn't more included here. When Cecelia's aunt dies, she inherits her all girl's school and a gaming hell that supposedly funds it. Ramsey, as the Lord Chief Justice, is investigating a string of missing immigrant girls who he thinks is being sex trafficked and he thinks 'The Scarlet Lady' is the head of this ring. As Cecelia has just inherited her aunt's gaming hell, she is the new Scarlet Lady and thrown into this investigation. Through this plot, Cecelia faces danger that requires Ramsey to sweep her away into hiding so she can decode a book her aunt left her that, hopefully, supplies the names of the Crimson Council, who her aunt thought was behind the missing immigrant girls. In the first book, the Crimson Council is mentioned and has possible ties to Francesca's murdered family.
I kissed Ramsay.
All I've mentioned probably makes this sound like a lot is happening but while this is information that you keep in the back of your mind, this story was slow. Francesca isn't around for much of the story and I missed scenes with the Red Rogue's friendship. I mentioned how Ramsey wants Cecelia fairly quickly but then he also learns about her connection to the Scarlet Lady pretty quickly too and they're off to safety for Cecelia to decode the codex. I liked Cecelia but I struggled mightily with Ramsey's character. He was a stomping around rude sanctimonious ass for a large portion of the story, uttering a line around the sixty percent mark that wanted me to place him the trash bin. He apologies fairly quickly but at that point in the book, I don't want my hero's attitude to be that poor towards the heroine. Due to me not liking Ramsey, I never really felt or believed in their romance. Even though I liked Cecelia, her character was very uneven when interacting with Ramsey. She's constantly touted as the sweet innocent one, who's shy and so forth but then when the intimate scenes begin, she's dropping down immediately to give the hero a bj. There is a call back to a dirty book she discovered but that's not mentioned until after the scene and it just made it all feel unnatural for her character. I'm not saying sweet innocent women don't want to give bjs but in this instance with this character, it came off trying to force a sexually steamy scene. There was another long bedroom scene but I honestly wanted to skim because I didn't feel the passion between these two.
She was a flame dancing in the distance across the cold tundra into which he’d been born, tempting him closer.
If you're a frequent reader of Byrne like I am, you'll know that she leans more toward the dramatic and dances with purple prose, this story definitely had those overtones but I found myself wanting a more stripped down version (could be argued I shouldn't be reading a Byrne if that is my mood). I don't know if this was due to the characters or my mood but characters and plot just weren't jiving for me. Cecelia is supposed to be keeping her identity as the Scarlet Lady a secret but she goes to the school and gaming hall with her real identity not hidden and with her two friends and Ramsey is the Lord Chief Justice but besides leading a search warrant on the school we never get a feel for him in this position. The whole plot about the child sex ring also came off wrong, it felt like using a heinous crime for some sort of fictional tantalizing hook. The care and depth I would like to see when such a topic is used in that way wasn't there for me and it felt gross.
“Christ,” he breathed, turning his head to press his lips against the thin and tender skin on the inside of her wrist. “What are ye doing to me?”
I liked the beginning and set-up but the middle dragged with Ramsey not evolving, the plot getting left behind or stagnating, and the last ten percent was a hurried dump of resolutions and reveals that came out of nowhere. I really enjoyed the first in the series and with Francesca still needing to solve her family's murder and the reveal of a Home Office spy lingering at the edges trying to take on the Crimson Council, the third is set up to be compelling.
I was pretty close to rounding up on this one but couldn't quite tip it over the edge. But this was still a fun read.
"He said he and I were similar souls. It was though he could see parts of himself in me." "I can guess which parts."
I found I got off to a bit of a rough start with this because we're thrown into a weird situation out of nowhere, alongside one of our MCs, but while she got some answers along the way, I still felt it took too long to settle into the goings on. Likewise, I felt it dragged just as things started to really settle. But then near the end? I was crying. I was moved. And then wham bam we had lots of action and reveals, ma'am. Things wrap up pretty quick, in fairly predictable ways — though we had a delightful tease and set-up for book three — but I was still feeling those earlier lovelier feels.
"I am a woman, Ramsay, I am used to pain."
Jean-Yves is the star of this show, yes he is. I want a devoted French butler, please.
"Are you all willing to resort to violence?" "No." "Yes." "Only if strictly necessary."
This series is definitely a highlight when it comes to strong female characters but also fantastic female friendships. The depths the author gives these Red Rogues is just delightful. I was really happy with the dimension Byrne had given to book one's hero but found this one a bit less memorable and a little more typical and/or standard for HR. That said, I think we're going to get a change-up when it comes to the next man in this round up (or at least I hope so!). And with that said..
Looking forward to book three.
** I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **
All Scot and Bothered is the second book in the Devil You Know series. I really enjoyed this one!
Both main characters, Cassius Gerard Ramsay and Cecelia Teague were flawed along with being broken in some way. I'm starting to see a trend in books by Kerrigan Byrne with characters like this. I think if you struggle with tougher themes in romance books, she might be an author to avoid.
I've enjoyed books by Byrne because the characters are more then surface deep and her plots are pretty exciting and can be dangerous!
Ramsay and Cecelia were instantly drawn to each other. I do believe their younger years and backgrounds were similar and I could see how they would be drawn to each other. They see the lonely and broken in the other.
Of course, Byrne writes excellent smut and attraction. She seems to excel on that and All Scot and Bothered was no exception. Ramsay and Cecelia's attraction was literally burning off the pages. 😜🤣
This plot was more then just sexual chemistry and romance. The book was decent, the characters were complex and I enjoyed the ending. I even got a bit teary eyed when Cecelia's guardian talked to Ramsay about her background. Poor little girl!
Definitely recommend this if you enjoy historical romance! Check out the first book in the series, How to Love a Duke in Ten Days which was another good book in the series.
After HOW TO LOVE A DUKE IN TEN DAYS I was very curious about the next book in Kerrigan Byrne's Devil You Know series. It took me a little longer than I'd expected to finish this book and I'm still trying to figure out if it just dragged a little or if I'm in a bit of a slump. Or maybe it's both? This book felt definitely a little longer than the last one. That being said, I still found a lot to enjoy!
First there was the heroine. I LOVE that the author gave Cecilia curves and an unabashed appetite to maintain those and a hero who appreciated that. Cecilia was unbelievably sweet, with so much kindness and forgiveness in her heart, yet so much backbone. She was one of a kind. I adored that she was a scholar and fought for what she believed in without giving an inch.
“Ye’re soft where I am hard,”
Ramsay continued with a vehemence that belonged to the same fury simmering in her own blood.
“Ye’re kind when I am cruel. Ye remind me that there’s mercy along with justice and that the world is not just black and white but shades of gray.
Ramsay wasn't easy to love up until the 50% mark and when I get annoyed with a main character for that long it's a little hard to believe in the romance. He had a stick right up his rear, was uptight and wouldn't listen. Behind his grumpy attitude lay a wounded soul not unlike Cecilia's. But while Cecilia met the world with an open mind and sweetness, Ramsay was deeply distrustful of everyone and especially women and this heroine was on the receiving end of his ire. But oh when he opened up and let Cecilia's sweetness seep into his heart, that was stunning and that's when I started to like and eventually love this complicated character.
"You’re critical, grumpy, terrifying, and all sorts of wrong for me, but damned if I don’t think you’re the most beautiful human to walk the face of this earth—”
ALL SCOT AND BOTHERED has a complex plot that includes suspense and a whodunnit that wasn't too hard to solve. There are some action and twists along the way that took me by surprise. While this may not be my favorite by this author I'm still glad I got to read Cecilia's story. Plus, if there is one thing Kerrigan Byrne excels at it's writing angst and beautiful words. I marked a lot of quotes that just settled in my heart. Now I'm looking forward to Francesca's book - from the blurb I can't tell whether we have met the hero yet so I'm intrigued!
Her eyes affixed on his lips, finding a hint of the divine where malice had once been. A glimpse of the eternal. An echo of forever.
Oh how I love Kerrigan Byrne and this book. A story of how enemies can become lovers with one caveat...the gap in ages. I loved the banter between the main characters and could not stop reading this story once I got started. Truly a hard to put down book.
When I first started reading Ms. Byrne's novels, they were light-hearted romances but now this one goes a bit dark bringing out child and emotional abuse, degrading name calling and shaming full figured women. However, although the story brings out some of these facets, it was still a wonderful historical romance with laughs, danger and twists. One big plus for me was Cecilia being a curvy and voluptuous woman bringing the worst but good out of Ramsey. Oh how I just adored that and the attraction between the two that made their being together work.
One question Netgalley asks of its readers is whether we like the cover of the book. I did like the cover, however it did no justice for the heroine as it really did not reflect her physical appearance as written in the book. This story was well-written, lovable and just plain enjoyable for this reader.
Thank you Netgalley and St. Martin's Press for this ARC in exchange for my fair and honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own.
Sigh... so good. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Have you ever met someone that you felt an immediate pull, a strong affinity towards? I have and it’s an interesting feeling. That’s the type of thing we get to watch unfold with this upcoming story.
Cecelia has an interesting background and has no relatives to speak of until she is told she’s inherited a huge empire that includes what appears to be a house of gambling and ill repute.
Head spinning, she also finds she is the keeper of secrets and has a most unpleasant a run-in with the Vicar of Vice. Soon she finds herself in a love-hate quandary.
Byrne is a master at historical romance that offers a unique tale to be devoured with the tangible escalation of passion-filled foreplay. The heated exchanges will spoil you against any other guy.
But Ramsey is a bit slow on the uptake. But then again the big guys always fall the hardest and Byrne creates the perfect offset to Cecelia.
Action filled romance at it’s finest with twists you never saw coming, All Scot and Bothered is a fun, yet heated book you will just fall for!
Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
All Scot and Bothered is the second book in The Devil You Knowseries which follows the antics of three friends bonded together at a boarding school by their red hair, penchant for trouble, a tragic event and a secret society where they indulged in manly pursuits. Like most historical romances this book does not need to be read in order and is a self contained story.
Cecelia is the buxom beauty of the group. She is a women full of curves and soft smiles with a love of wine and truffles. She is perfectly aware that spinsterhood is right around the corner. Since she never planned to marry it is fine by her, she's never really met a man she was that interested in. That is until her aunt dies leaving her a gaming hell/brothel even though she's never touched a man in that way. Too bad that man is a justice of the court and wants to bring the gaming hell down.
“Don’t ye dare compare your vocation to mine.” “I wouldn’t dream of comparing our vocations, my lord. Mine is much more honest, more ancient, and historically the most vital to any empire.”
Cassius can't say what it is about Cecelia he is drawn to, except for everything about her. But between his mother and once fiancé, he has little to no trust in women and can't believe the woman before him is as she seems. Still when someone tries to kill her he is determined to keep her and her new ward safe. Even if it means revisiting his past and a place he hates.
I really like Cecelia through this entire book. She is sweet and kind and really strong in her sense of self. Lord Ramsey was a little much to handle a few times with his broken views on women, but it made it all the sweeter when he finally made some breakthroughs. I loved how Cecelia really held her own against Cassius and found a way to kill him with kindness also. I was slightly surprised to find out who was behind the murder attempts and why. The lineage of Cecelia's ward was also a pretty big surprise although looking back on it I should have known.
Overall another pretty fun story of a Scot and the Girl that stole his heart.
I received an ARC from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
I loved How to Love a Duke in Ten Days, so I was excited when I got invited by the publisher to review All Scot and Bothered. However, a review from a friend pointed out various problematic elements in the book, some falling in line with my criticisms of Kerrigan Byrne’s previous work romanticizing alphahole heroes and toxic behavior, and some being much more troubling, such as racism and homophobia.
The characters in question are an Indian man and a queer woman, both of whom serve as villains, and are unceremoniously killed off. While they don’t really come into play until the very last chapter, the fact that they are there at all says a lot about the lack of real effort on the part on all levels of production, from writing to editing and beyond, to ensure that this was avoided, especially amidst constant talks about diversity and pledges to do better.
As for the rest of it, I can see why it would hold appeal for some readers. But Ramsey…I wanted to throw him to the same pit of wolves with a couple of the Victorian Rebels who I couldn’t stand yet somehow everyone else is in love with. Is he objectively worse than, say Dougan Mackenzie/Dorian Blackwell? I’m going to say so (to an extent), because for most of the book, he is the most massive misogynist, alternately lusting after the heroine and wanting to take her and her companions down because they engage in sex work. And the reason he hates women and has such a rigid moral code? His mother was “a whore,” in the sense she was loose with her favors, not in the sense that she actually engaged in sex work (as far as I could gather). Why do authors all think that men with issues with their parents that would be better resolved with therapy make good love interests, and then of course have the heroine solve everything?
Not to mention, he’s the Victorian era’s example of a Bad Cop. I give a lot of leeway to historical cops, as the landscape was different back then (I did so with Byrne’s previous cop hero), but this lovely gem from Mr. Lord Chief Justice made me facepalm so hard:
“…why would ye feel the need to defend yerself from the police if ye’re not breaking the law?”
I just can’t with this. Throw the whole man away.
Cecelia was who I was looking forward to getting to know, giving I loved the new direction this series was taking with fleshing out the women and giving them issues too, instead of making them just mere morality chains for the men. And at times I did like her, especially when she was calling Ramsey out on his BS. However, as the story goes on, she begins lamenting how her own situation makes her unsuitable for him, and I just wanted to scream at her to leave him, but of course she wouldn’t because he makes her feel all hot and bothered.
And that brings me to the only perfect character in this book, Jean-Yves, and if he weren’t older, I would have picked him to be with Cecelia instead. He’s constantly reassuring her of her worth, and even calls out Ramsey for not seeing it.
Apart from that, Byrne’s writing style is its only saving grace, and one of the few things that has me continually giving her chances, even as her tendency toward Old School archetypes continues to disappoint me. I’m not sure if I’ll check out book 3 or any future romances from her at this point (it depends on the blurbs and advance reviews).
I do feel this book will please her more ardent fans, as I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the alpha-hero fantasy. I just hope that those readers also keep in mind the objectively toxic tropes this book is perpetuating, with this book is choosing to uplift an arguably emotionally troubled straight white guy while demonizing a POC and queer person, something even books that pay homage to Old School romances should move past in 2020.
Overall Opinion: I’m afraid my expectations got the better of me with this one. I had parts that I enjoyed but for the most part it fell flat. I liked the characters and I liked how they cared about one another, but I felt like I was left wanting because of all the back and forth. I also felt like there were a lot of unanswered questions in the end that I found frustrating especially when it lacked an epilogue. Overall, I felt as though it was just alright.
Brief Summary of the Storyline: This is Cecilia and Ramsay’s story. They have met because Ramsay’s half brother married one of Cecilia’s best friends. Cecilia’s aunt has died mysteriously and she has found herself in the possession of a gambling hall and school for young ladies. Along with those things she has also gained an enemy of the Lord Chief Justice, Ramsay, who is looking into the disappearance of several young girls that has led him to Cecilia’s aunt’s establishment. There is some banter, some suspenseful moments, some sad pasts, and some sexy times...and they get a HFN ending.
Point Of View (POV): This alternated between focusing on Cecilia and Ramsay in 3rd person narrative.
Overall Pace of Story: Alright for the most part. It did drag in a few places and also felt sped up in others — I guess I would just say it felt inconsistent at times. I never skimmed though.
Instalove: No. Instalust? Yes.
H (Hero) rating: 3.5 stars. Ramsay. I liked him but then he would be a jerk. I get that he was damaged, but the h was definitely way nicer than I would’ve been!
h (heroine) rating: 4.5 stars. Cecilia. I really liked her. She was sweet, smart, and super loyal.
Sadness level: Low, no tissues needed
Heat level: Good. They have some tension, chemistry, and scenes -- but not so much it takes away from the story.
Descriptive sex: Yes
OW (Other Woman)/OM (Other Man) drama: No
Sex scene with OW or OM: No
Possible Triggers: Yes
Closure: This ended way too abruptly with what I would call a HFN ending. They decide to get married and then that’s it. I would’ve loved to get a glimpse farther into their future and see them get a HEA!
Safety: This one should be Safe for most safety gang readers
*This review has been copied from my blog, literarylovebooks.com*
Age gap romances are my least favorite trope. And yet, Byrne (of course) made it work!
This enemies to lovers/age gap romance ticked all my boxes and some I didn't even know I had! I loved every second of reading this fantastic book.
Our hero, Ramsey, is the worst. He's got reasons- but he's the worst. And then there is Cecilia or Cecil. She is a bright light in the dark world of London. There is an instant attraction and then an instant hate and it worked. It worked sooo good!
What I love out of every grumpy/sunshine romance is when the heroine brings that big, alpha, jerk face to his knees! I live for those scenes. But of course our sweet Cecilia does it in the most kind and loving way.
The hate and then the eventual love these two have for each other burns brighter than the Red Rogues' hair. The banter, the one liners, the epic take downs- Ohhhh- it's my catnip!
I literally could not stop reading. I read until I fell asleep with my kindle on my face. I just had to know what was going to happen next. The story kept me so intrigued that I ignored everything until I finished it.
I feel like Byrne out shinned herself with this one. I was completely blown away by it. This series is quickly becoming one of my most loved. Absolutely spectacular!!!
***Quick note on the cover*** I know authors have little to no control over their covers. SOOO, I'm looking at you St. Martin's. I've said this about other covers and other publishers and I'm going to keep saying it until it stops. Do not use skinny cover models when the character is not skinny herself. Nope. Stop. Cecilia is mocked for her weight all her life, she is described as "round", "hefty", "curvy", "voluptuous", "thick", "girthy", "wide"... There are a lot of words to describe that beautiful cover model but none of these specific words can be attributed to her. You wouldn't use a heavy set woman on a cover of a book when the character is described as skinny- so why do the opposite? What is even the need of doing that? If you put things out into the world, you should pay attention to what you ARE putting out into the world. There are plenty of curvy, beautiful, red-headed women that could have been the model on this cover. I guarantee it. I had this problem with the Chasing Cassandra cover and I have a problem with this one as well.
All's I can say is do better. ***
That's it. End of rant. This book is fabulous. Absolutely fantastic. And I'm anxiously awaiting the next book!
This is book 2 of the Devil You Know series. I think this one is okay to read as a standalone (although the first book is amazing too, so I encourage you to try that as well!) It has a few brief appearances from hero and heroine from book 1, and there is a small spoiler for book 1 if you read this one first (but this spoiler is something that is read in the beginning of book 1, so it wouldn't ruin the whole book or anything).
Ramsey. Vicar of Vice. Lord Chief Justice of the High Court. Our hero focuses on ignoring his feelings of cold emptiness and instead his life is consumed with bringing criminals to justice. Large, imposing, ruthless, powerful...he has brought himself up from nothing to spite his peers and betters that said he would never amount to anything. And now he's focused on a case that has brought him to confront the Scarlet Lady.
Cecelia is a character I was so excited to read about since I met her in book 1. A REAL full figured heroine. Not slightly chubby. Not skinny but thinks she's fat. She loves her wine. She loves her chocolates. She's unapologetic about her size, moving through the world with a subtle confidence, hiding any feelings of insecurity with a happy smile. And more truffles, of course.
Cecelia is removed from the hell she was living by someone who knew her mother. She went to boarding school and university afterwards. Her love was for mathematics. She also loves her Red Rogues, her two very best friends Alexandria (book 1) and Francesca (book 3 I would assume). When her secret supporter dies, she finds herself whisked into a new world when she inherits a gambling den. She is quickly pursued by the Lord Chief Justice, who is accusing her of crimes that turn Cecelia's stomach. She hides her identity to protect herself from Ramsey.
If you've read Kerrigan Byrne, you have an idea of what you are getting. It's not a comforting pot of tea. It's an explosion of brandy. It's raw pain. Hot sex. It's inappropriate language and violence without remorse. And I LOVE it. I love that she doesn't shy away from breaking your heart and putting it back together. I love that her heroes are an animal of ruthless violence under their skin. Towards anyone that jeopardizes their lover's safety. She makes other heroes look weak. I adore her heroes.
I think I liked this story line a lot more than book 1. I was so caught up in the danger of the story, which usually isn't my thing at all. But I was on the edge of my seat wondering what would happen, I was utterly enthralled by the danger. I love the gore and violence. I must be blood thirsty, but I just can't stand it when there's a horrible villain and the heroine puts her hand on the hero's chest and says something like, “No, this isn't you. He doesn't deserve it.” Ummm, YES HE DOES!
I delighted in the beginning scene where Ramsey and Cecelia talk for the first time. Cecelia's love for truffles is adorable and was made so sexy. I loved being in Ramsey's mind in that moment. Creating this tension, this longing. Also, amazing first intimate scene. It can be so rare in HR to have scenes like this, very pleased by that.
My only complaints were I felt like I didn't get as much time in Ramsey's head that I wanted. Especially during the intimate scenes. I love when they are from the man's perspective and I thought Ramsey's would be explosive with the choices he made over the past 7 years.
Thanks netgalley for the ARC. All thoughts and opinions regarding this story are my own.
I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
All Scot and Bothered is the second book in the Devil You Know series and I think it can easily be read as a standalone. Some events that occurred in the first book are briefly mentioned, but I don't think that would confuse a new reader.
Before I get into the review...look! Another ugly cover to keep Chasing Cassandra company. Macmillan, I'm not even gonna bother being nice: this cover is hideous. The heroine in this book is curvy and side characters have shamed her for it. It takes her a long time to learn to love herself and her body. Even after growing up to be a confident woman, there are still moments where her self-confidence wavers. So shame on you, Macmillan, for picking a thin model for this cover.
Now that the public shaming is done, let's get right into my review. Cecelia Teague inherits a gambling hell and a school for young ladies from her maternal aunt. But before she can even get started on learning the business side of things, she has to first and foremost protect her new inheritance from the law. Lord Chief Justice Cassius Ramsay thinks that Cecelia's gambling hell is responsible for the sex trafficking of young immigrant girls. Cecelia is sure that her maternal aunt couldn't have had a hand in kidnapping young girls and selling them to wealthy lords. Ramsay's investigation, however, constantly leads him to the gambling hell. But what Ramsay doesn't know is that the gambling hell's new owner is his sister-in-law's close friend.
This is an incredibly hard book to review because I have a strong feeling it is going be very polarizing among readers. Both hero and heroine have incredibly heart-wrenching backstories that really emphasize just how far they have come as adults. Ramsay is a hard, cold, and stuffy hero. You can even say that he's a symbol of the patriarchy — a patriarchal symbol that is eventually brought to his knees. He is very highhanded and annoying, but he grew on me. He's the kind of hero who doesn't trust women because of his personal experiences and I know that this is a turn off for many readers. Trust me, I usually despise these kinds of heroes and most of the time, they are irredeemable in my eyes. Ramsay is going to piss you off, but his metamorphosis is one that is worth reading. His later interactions with Cecelia and her ward are worth all the annoyance you feel in the beginning. Cecelia is the kind of heroine who says the things that need to be said. She goes head to head with Ramsay and her soft heart is in constant opposition with Ramsay's supposedly hard heart. She stands up for herself and for the things she wants to achieve in life. When I finished the book, I thought: this is how you write a feminist romance with a stuffy and highhanded hero whose belief system is turned on its head. And Kerrigan Byrne does this in a way that stays true to the time period of the story.
The plot regarding the missing girls is interesting and I think it was well executed overall. I've read some reviews that claim that the plot is messy...and I don't see it. I thought it was well-written and everything made sense in the end. Well, it made sense to me *shrugs* The story did get a bit draggy in the middle and Ramsay's broodiness was getting a tad bit too dramatic. The writing is good for the most part, but there are definitely some cringey and purple-prosy expressions in there that made me scratch my head. I also have an issue with the way the author described an Indian side character as a "lovely-skinned Indian." Girl, just use the word brown-skinned. There is nothing wrong with it. I have brown skin and so do others of Indian descent. Seriously, people. We call ourselves brown lol.
P.S. Ramsay's superhero physical strength is equally scary and sexy 🥵
*little disclaimer I have been in the biggest reading slump of my life since the end of august… it lasted for about two months and was absolutely awful… fortunately around the end of october I finally got out of it and got back to reading more like I am used to :) unfortunately I still don’t want to sit down and write *proper* reviews… you know, detailed and with full and coherent sentences… ;) usually when I get like this I can wait it out and then catch up on everything once that mood passes, but it’s not looking like it’s going anywhere anytime soon… so what I am gonna do is update all of the ones I still haven’t written (and all of my future ones will look like that as well, unless something magically changes) with this little disclaimer at the top and then a bit of an intro plus some random and chaotic thoughts… ;) I mean… it’s better than no review at all, right? :) some of them will include spoilers, some of them won’t, but don't worry, if there will be any spoilery things I share with you in my review, they will be always at the end of it, clearly marked and initially hidden from view, so there’s no way you will read anything accidentally :) ok, I think that covers everything that I needed to share with you :) we good? awesome :) then let’s just dive in ;)
When I read the first book in this series around july last year I immediately preordered both sequels to it… I loved it and was sure I would love later installments just as much… and I was completely right :)
- on paper this story had things I usually don’t enjoy and yet once again Kerrigan Byrne proves that in my eyes she can do no wrong :) sort of hate to love relationship, case of double identity / sort of deception… I mean… and I STILL loved it :)
- Cecelia was my type of heroine :) smart and (mostly) knowing exactly what she’s worth :) she’s not willing to compromise the core of who she is, not even for the man she loves…
- Ramsey as the hero definitely had to grow on me… at first I really didn’t like him, but as always, Kerrigan Byrne made me change my mind :)
- there were definitely some surprising twists and turns along the way, some of them completely bonkers, and I ate it all up :)
- Derek Perkins grew on me as the narrator… I listened to his narration of Victorian rebels (another Kerrigan Byrne series) and initially wasn't his biggest fan… but I do enjoy his scotish accent… and since this one had a scotish hero I wanted to hear it again :)
I listened to the audiobook of this story so fast that now it all seems like a blur :) but I do remember how much I loved it… although I have a feeling this will be a thing with each and every one of the stories Kerrigan Byrne will give us ;) please seek out other reviews for more coherent thoughts, here I have for you only chaotic love with basically no details :) 5 stars :)
I honestly had a massive problem with the hero of this story, because he was a sanctimonious prig who wanted to believe the worst of Cecelia simply because she was a woman. And he quite literally at one point tells her that although he doesn’t like women for *reasons* he doesn’t think like that about HER, because… he wants to have sex with her? I guess?
Now, there are times when Cecelia actually does a bang-up job of calling Ramsay on his misogynistic nonsense. And there are times, like the one above, where she doesn’t. Where she basically melts at him telling her she’s Not Like Other Girls. And that made me want to SCREAM. I wanted her to tell him ‘actually, I’m exactly like other girls, thanks, it’s literally your libidinous hypocrisy making you want to believe otherwise’. I got that she had a tough background and she just wanted to Belong and he was pushing all her buttons as the Big Strong Protector type, but the reality was, he was a Bad Cop. He used intimidation tactics and violence to get his way - witness the early scene where his men trashed her property while executing a warrant and he neither apologised nor asked them to clean up their mess. He NEVER apologised, because he quite simply believed he’d been in the right all along.
I liked Cecelia, but she deserved so much better. And the final crown was put on me not liking this book when the one and only character of colour, in this novel set in the late Victorian era, turned out to be ‘an Indian man’ who was never given a name but was working for the villains and got shot in the final confrontation. Really? REALLY, that’s the best you could do regarding representation? That is tokenism of the worst possible sort, and it drops this down from a two star to a one star read for me.
**Another reviewer pointed out - and I missed it the first time - that when the primary villain revealed herself, she disclosed that she’d been Cecelia’s aunt’s lover. So not only the only character of colour in the book, but ALSO the only queer character in the book, turn out to be villains and are killed off. When literally the only two characters in your book who are non-white or non-straight are portrayed as villains, this is actively harmful representation. And this is with St. Martin’s Press, a major publisher. What is the POINT of having gatekeepers in the industry, if they don’t use those gates on things like this? I’m so frustrated and disgusted.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this title via NetGalley.
1. Kerrigan Bryne’s clever and beautiful writing. Ms. Bryne expertly brings her characters to life, I felt every raw emotion: longing, passion, anger, and vulnerability along with Cecelia and Ramsey. Her writing is beautiful without being overly flowery and distracting. 2. The romance! Lovely, delicious buildup, and oh, the wicked thoughts Mr. Ramsey does have running through his creative mind! He’s tried to control his indulgences and desires, but every time he’s around Cecilia he turns into a somewhat primal beast, and I loved it! Cecilia is not experienced, but she’s an adventurous woman with goals, determination, and a positive self-possessed spirit I admired. Their varied qualities spiced and enhanced the romance! 3. Never a dull moment! There was danger, mystery, and passion and the mix kept me on the edge of my seat. I was so captivated, I read the story in a twenty-four-hour period. 4. The female friendship and camaraderie! Alexandra, Fracesca and Cecelia are not blood, but they are sisters of the heart, there for each other through thick and thin. These ladies are the kind that don’t ask questions, just help bury the body! My kind of girlfriends for sure! 5. The ending will make you happy! Who doesn’t want a happy ending, especially now?! This is a romance so this is hardly a spoil, but All Scot and Bothered will leave you with a dreamy smile on your face! All Scot and Bothered is the second book in The Devil You Know series, but it isn't necessary to read the prior book. You will miss Alexandra's story, though, and that would be a tragedy! A copy was kindly provided by St. Martin's Press in exchange for an honest review.
I don't know what happened, I so enjoyed book 1 but this didn't have me sighing in pleasure as I lost myself to the world and characters the author had created. The sizzle and spark between Ramsay and Cecelia didn't ripple off the page and have me nose deep in my kindle.
For me the characters needed to be developed more, especially Ramsay I just didn't feel myself clicking with him as a hero/MC.
Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) provided by the Author and Publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an fair and honest review.
It is a rare Historical-Romance that can blend romance, humor and suspense. I just don't know of many and that makes Kerrigan Byrne so unique among the legions of Historical-Romance writers. Her books are truly a departure from the norm and I really, really like that. But, I have to also say that the prose can be over the top and the angst level is higher than I care for. This one just doesn't live up to the high bar of previous Kerrigan Byrne books.
The Red Rogues. Three women with red hair who were social outcasts at school, bound by their secrets, and the best of friends. They were intellectual superiors to almost anyone else and that alone put a target on them, but also drew them closer to each other.
Cecelia Teague lost her mother at a young age and her father, a pious and cruel SOB was intent on making her pay for her mother's sins. She is rescued from all that, sent to school and lived a life of her own choosing. When she inherits a notorious gaming hell from her mysterious benefactor, she also inherits some powerful emeries, one of which she would rather have as a lover.
The brother-in-law of one of her best friends is a man of the law driven to right wrongs and right now he is intent on destroying the "Scarlet Lady". Cassius Gerard Ramsay is the Lord Chief Justice of the High Court and he is intent on finding who is taking young girls and making them disappear. His focus is on a gaming hell and so called school for young ladies. When he raids the establishment, he is is confronted by the mysterious "Scarlet Lady" who defies him and intrigues him at the same time. The only other woman who has captured his attention is the sweet friend of his sister-in-law, Cecilia. Won't he be surprised when he finds out they are the same woman?
I hated Ramsey for about 70% of the story. He was so sanctimonious! Cecelia is a delight. I expected no different from what we had previously learned about her. Of the Red Rouges, she was the softest. She had nothing but kindness exuding from her, regardless of how she was treated. I think her unbated kindness made me hate Ramsey even more. Being mean to her is like kicking a puppy. Phoebe is adorable as well and I enjoyed her presence in the story.
I will say there were several surprises in the story that I hadn't really predicted. The plot moves at a good pace overall and there is a solid balance between danger, humor, romance, and Red Rogue determination.
All Scot and Bothered is a wonderful addition to the series and I am very curious for Francesca's story (especially since I think one "Italian" count will play a role).
Series: Devil You Know #2 Publication Date: 9/29/20 Number of Pages: 416
I am all over the place with a rating for this book – everywhere from a 2-star to a 4-star, so I decided to split the difference and make it a 3-star even though I lean more toward the 2 than the 4. I started to tell you that I loved the story, but I think I loved the IDEA of the story because it could have been excellent – even with the purple prose. I was looking forward to something more like the first book in the series, How to Love a Duke in Ten Days. I LOVED that book and gave it a 5-star rating. So, maybe I was comparing the two books and that flavored my reading experience.
Cassius Gerard Ramsay, Lord Chief Justice of the High Court, is one of the most acerbic, cold, menacing, unforgiving, and merciless ‘heroes’ I’ve ever read. Yes, I understand his issues, to a degree, but I have to say I just didn’t get him. Frankly, he doesn’t like people in general, but he particularly dislikes women. He’s been in relentless pursuit of some evidence to arrest and hang Henrietta Thistledown, AKA The Scarlet Lady, for a good many years. Now, he’s decided she is the mastermind behind a ring that kidnaps young girls and sells them. He doesn’t have any concrete evidence, just suppositions, and information provided by an anonymous informant. He has to be a very smart man to have come from absolutely nothing – and I do mean nothing – to become the highest judge in the land. Yet, he’s investigated and harassed this woman for years and years and still has no evidence against her. Does he let that stop his vendetta? NO! Even after her death he is knocking down her door and tearing the place apart looking for evidence. Does finding nothing change his mind? NO! He must not be very busy as a judge because rather than having investigators/lawyers, etc. do the investigating and report to him, he is out there beating down doors himself.
Cecelia Teague’s childhood was every bit as traumatic as Ramsay’s, but she is the direct opposite of him. She sees the good in people, likes people, and has an overabundance of sympathy and mercy for them. She is a bit on the large size and she’s very smart, so she’s had to suffer snide comments and abuse her entire life. Even though it has caused her to feel bad about herself, she still has a good outlook on the world. So, she’s this smart mathematician with no experience in any sort of business or anything else. Yet, when she inherits her Aunt Henrietta’s gaming (and more) establishment, she doesn’t give it a second thought. When the Lord High Judge beats on the door of the establishment she has just inherited – like 5-minutes ago – she doesn’t question whether there could be something behind his charges. She doesn’t even question anything afterward. She just blithely decides to continue with business as usual. She doesn’t even question the presence of a young (maybe 7-years) girl hiding under the desk when the Lord High Judge comes in. She also inherited her aunt’s secret identity in order to protect her real identity from general knowledge and to protect her reputation. Yet – without her wearing a disguise, she brings her two friends into the establishment for a tour. Yep – nobody would suspect anything about that.
Given the few interactions they had, I never saw the attraction, the romance, the love. You’ll just have to read the book to see some of the gosh-awful things he says to her and the very unreasonable way he treats her, but there is no way I’d EVER be attracted to any man who spoke that way to me. Yet – when disaster strikes – she heads off with him. She doesn’t question him, doesn’t go to her friend who is married to a powerful duke for help – nope – she heads right off with Ramsay.
I honestly didn’t hate the book, but it was just so filled with things that were inconsistent or didn’t make sense and Cecelia was all over the place in her reactions to Ramsay. As I said, it had the concept of a great book, but the plot and character underdevelopment just didn’t help it reach that potential. I think I would have been more willing to disregard the plot flaws if I had liked Ramsay better. I thought the resolution was a bit too abrupt and easy – but at least we met the hero for the next book, The Devil in Her Bed, where I hope we’ll see a resolution to the Crimson Council.
This book is part of a series, but can easily be read as a stand-alone book without feeling lost. There are a few references to the history between the three ladies who are featured in this series, but few will leave you scratching your head
I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Kerrigan Byrne consistently delivers for me as an author. This second book in the Devil You Know series focuses on the second member of the Red Rogues, Cecilia. (If you didn't read the first book in this series, though, don't worry... it holds up fine as a standalone.) Our heroine is curvy and brilliant and amazingly positive, despite the fact she had a horrible childhood. What I like about her is that she likes herself, despite so many voices that tell her she shouldn't. That she should dim her light. She is happy to be smart and to indulge in the things that give her joy, whether it's math or chocolate, or as the story begins... the inheritance of a gaming hell and school for girls. Though it's unorthodox, she sees its value and wants to use it to make a difference.
Enter Ramsay, her best friend's brother in law, and a man who has built his life on law and order. He's been working to take down the school, convinced it is a front for something more nefarious. He doesn't realize at first that Cecilia, the woman he is so taken with, is the same woman who now runs the place.
I don't want to spoil too much, so I'll stop there with the plot. I will say I really enjoyed both main characters. Ramsay is so buttoned up, but his rigidity is his mask and his comfort. Deep down, he just doesn't feel good enough and that sort of thing is my catnip in a hero. I really enjoyed watching him fight his feelings for Cecilia, particularly after her secret is out. (Thankfully, it doesn't take too long... I hate a Big Secret trope.) She wears down his hard edges with her softness. And when his walls come down, they are lovely together. Best of all, Cecilia never has to sacrifice who she is to find a way into his heart.
Well, I loved this synopsis and somehow feel like I was horribly misled.
I liked Cecelia. She’s smart and sweet and a really good person. I especially loved her two friends and the scenes with all three of them together were some of my favorites. Ramsay was a jerk for most of the story. He’s gruff and has a strong, unfavorable opinion of women.
Plot wise it was okay. I didn’t really get the romance part of it because the chemistry didn’t quite translate for me. Plus since I didn’t really care for Ramsay, I didn’t care about his side of things. The conflict and actual plot started at the beginning and seemed to fade away quickly, only to rear back up at the end. And while resolution was immediate, the lack of epilogue left me wanting.
Overall, based on all of the high reviews, it seems that this author just isn’t for me. I’m mildly interested in the other books, but not sure I’ll bother with them.
FYI: violence against women, graphic threat of rape, talk of selling children’s virginity
**Huge thanks to St. Martin’s Paperbacks for providing the arc free of charge**