Julie (jjmachshev)'s Reviews > The Devil Wears Tartan

The Devil Wears Tartan by Karen Ranney
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Feb 15, 2009

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bookshelves: 2009-reads, queuemyreview
Read in February, 2009

Reviewed for queuemyreview.com; book release Sep08

I think it was the cover of this book that called to me. A brawny highlander, shown from the waist up, dressed only his plaid. Delicious. Then I read inside the front cover: a woman felled by scandal and a recluse called the Devil of Ambrose. Now who could resist a Victorian romance like that?

Davina is a fallen woman--shunned by society and doomed to a life of spinsterhood. She really can’t blame anyone but herself. Her father always did say her curiosity would get her in trouble. But it could be worse, she does prefer to read anyway, so now she’ll just spend her life learning from her books. Until the aunt who took her in after her father’s death arranges a marriage for her. And not just any marriage, she’ll be the Countess of Lorne. Obviously, there’s something wrong with her husband and darn her curiosity again, but Davina can’t stop herself from wanting to solve his mysteries…especially once she sees him and realizes he’s young and handsome, and very skilled in the art of lovemaking.

Marshall is a tormented man who spends his life secluded, by choice, from society. Where once he exulted in the fun, games, and challenges of his life he’s now haunted by the souls of those who died under his command during his last diplomatic mission to China. But before he dies he wants an heir and asks his man of affairs to find him a wife of childbearing age. He doesn’t expect to care for her and he just hopes that the luxuries and wealth of being the Countess of Lorne will be enough to make up for being married to an insane man. He just never counted on Davina and her unwillingness to settle for less than what she wants…and she appears to want him.

This story has quite a bit of angst. He’s suffering and even though it’s apparent to the simplest reader what’s wrong, he doesn’t figure it out. Uh huh. Davina is quite brilliant herself and she doesn’t figure it out either…sure. That was my biggest beef with this story. If you can get past that, the rest of the plot is plausible and I wasn’t certain of the villain until the last part, suspicious but not certain. There’s a kind of side-story involving Davina’s aunt which doesn’t really pan out, instead the author gives the reader just enough glimpses of what’s going on to tie it into the main story. I’m not sure if that was to prepare readers for a possible future story starring the aunt or not, but that’s the only reason I can think of for doing so. For the most part, I just felt a certain distance from all the characters in this novel. I didn’t feel a growing connection between the hero and heroine, it just seemed that they woke up one day and cared for each other after very little interaction. Then they maintained a distance from other and yet the heroine was willing to do anything to save the hero. I just couldn’t buy it.

Karen Ranney is an author who’s had great success with her Highland stories. It could be that this particular book is not one of the best, but for whatever reason, “The Devil Wears Tartan” just didn’t gel for me. The characters stayed creatures on paper and the story didn’t hold much in the way of surprise. I did appreciate the humor in the ending and the wealth of information in Egyptology though. However, it wasn’t quite enough to make me truly enjoy the book.
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02/02 marked as: read

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