I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: A Scot in the Dark by Sarah MacLeanA Scot in the Dark by Sarah MacLean
Series: Scandal & Scoundrel #2
Published by Avon on August 30, 2016
Genres: Historical Romance, Romance
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five-stars
Lonesome Lily turned Scandalous Siren

Miss Lillian Harwood 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 . . .

I’ve been a fan of Sarah MacLean’s for a few years now, and when book 1 of her Scandal and Scoundrel series, The Rogue Not Taken, was released last year, I was happy to give it 5 stars not because of said fandom but because that’s what I would’ve given it had I never heard of the author. Now she’s done it again with book 2, A Scot in the Dark!

For one thing, the basic plot trope—let’s call it the I’m-in-love-with-my-guardian/ward trope—is one I quite enjoy. I like the fact that it’s for the most part unique to historicals; the idea of entering a relationship with the person who is socially and materially, if not always emotionally, responsible for your well-being, yet is not a parental figure, is intriguing to me. It treads along the boundaries of what’s taboo without crossing the line, and that makes the indulgence of reading a story like A Scot in the Dark all the more delicious.

But at the heart of the story are the two characters. And I simply swooned over Alec. That blend of uncouth butthole and thoughtful lover is compelling; he’s purposefully strayed from any path that leads to Tonnish sophistication, but while society labels him a brute because of it, he is ever the gentleman in his intentions and sensitivities, regardless of his manner. He’s definitely got something broken inside of him that he tries to hide from the world and especially from Lily, but it adds more dimension to his character and makes it more obvious when he falls for her because when we look into his head, we see that he regards her the way a prisoner sentenced to a life in isolation gazes at his last glimpse of spring and sunshine. And it’s beautiful.

Now Lily’s character is a bit less intense on the heartstrings. She’s fun in that she is not just a pretty face, and I love how this story, through this character, explored the notion that beauty can be as much hindrance and advantage. There were some parts where her contrariness might have felt a touch forced, but overall she was an intriguing character who took a chance on winning in the love department by doing something completely unexpected, something that took a heck of a lot of gumption on her part. It was this that had me giving her my wholehearted support on the road to happily ever after.

I don’t really read romance for the purpose of philosophical thinking, but there’s just something in the way this story was told that had me thinking a lot about image and self-respect. Don’t worry—it’s not at all like the book did the equivalent of intoning “and the moral of the story is…” But because the characters were so admirable yet so relateable, I couldn’t help putting myself in their shoes from time to time, and I found that some the cruelties they suffered held true today.

Introspection aside, this was a rollicking fun Regency read. There’s laughter enough to balance the characters’ hardships and the way they snipe at each other, and it’s all too easy to fall in love right along with them. If you’re a fan of the genre, this book is a must-read!

 

Feel Factor Rating:

swoon-factor4

steam-factor3

fan-factor2

laugh-factor1

 

Scandal & Scoundrel
Series Reading Order

1. The Rogue Not Taken
Buy on AmazonAdd to GoodreadsRead my review

2. A Scot in the Dark
Buy on AmazonAdd to Goodreads

 

About Sarah MacLean

Sarah MacLean grew up in Rhode Island, obsessed with historical romance and bemoaning the fact that she was born far too late for her own season. Her love of all things historical helped to earn her degrees from Smith College and Harvard University before she finally set pen to paper and wrote her first book.
Sarah now lives in New York City with her husband, baby daughter, their dog, and a ridiculously large collection of romance novels. She loves to hear from readers. Please visit her at www.macleanspace.com.