Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Thief in a Kilt by Sandy Blair

Book Description From Publishers Weekly:
This lighthearted historical romance, the third in a series (after 2004's A Rogue in a Kilt), takes on loyalty, love and lies in 15th-century Scotland. Kate Templeton, an unmarried London tutor blessed (or is it cursed?) with the gift of foresight, is masquerading as the widow of a Scottish lord to gain information on her imprisoned friend, King James I of Scotland. Incarcerated in the Tower of London for the past five years, James seems to have been abandoned by his people. Kate, his loyal tutor, has decided on her own to travel to Stirling Castle in Scotland and determine why the Scots have ignored the crown's ransom demands, and who among the court James can count on to help him. Kate has been warned to stay away from Scotland's "Thief of Hearts," Ian MacKay, but his heart-stopping good looks make that hard to do. Ian works as the eyes and ears of the regent Albany, an ass of a man and an enemy of James, but what Kate doesn't know is that Ian is secretly working to restore James to the throne. As Ian and Kate begin to uncover their shared agenda, duplicity and dilemma drive them apart. Though the abundance of Scottish dialect can distract, Blair's attention to historical and regional detail supports a fine balance of action and romance, making this political potboiler a winning read.

A quick read which I read in one day. It was not a bad Scottish highlander romance, but it wasn't great either. Still there were parts of it that were exciting and hot, but overall I found the constant decriptions of our tall and busty heroine annoying - "okay already, I know - she's tall and big breasted!" I wasn't sure, is she big boned and curvy, or are we supposed to believe she's on the overweight side? The blonde, tall and virile Ian is very good looking and the sexy build up and the romantic scenes were good, although the one in the hammock went on for pages - a hammock - on a ship no less? No way!

But, the book had it's exciting moments, it wasn't just about the courtship between our hero (Ian) and heroine (Kate.) A lot of the book focuses on the political history of the day with Scotland's King James (Stewart) locked up in the Tower of London for upteen years, waiting to be ransomed. The first chapter was a bit confusing in keeping track of what Kate's secret mission is and why she is in Scotland posing as a widow, but once you're into the book, you understand the gist of it. There was a big rescue scene towards the end, in which Ian is badly hurt and being held in the Tower of London and Kate must help him escape. It was reminiscent of Claire and Jamie in Outlander when Claire is rescuing Jamie from prison. I thought the whole scene from start to finish was well done by the author and was a real page turner. Her historical scenes are well done, but she has a tendency of throwing in too many modern phrases which is jarring in a historical setting. How many 15th century Scottish highlanders said "friggin'?" Kate spoke and acted like a 21st century woman, except for the occasional "nay" and "ye" thrown in, but I found the written Scottish accents annoying since they were not well done, and the variations of spelling of some words were inconsistent - typos overlooked by the editor - sloppily done. No one seemed to want to stick with a uniform way of spelling the world "dinghy." Sometimes is was dinghy, sometimes it was dingy - hadn't anyone at this publishing house heard of this word? Too much reliance on spell check, I'm afraid, so many of these kinds of misspellings fell through the cracks.

Some old faces or names from the other books were here, I was happy to see Lady Beth from the first book and her Laird husband. I loved that book, although I do worry for her, since Kate has "the sight" and forsees danger for Beth and her family. Overall, the book was good for a quick read (I read it in a few hours) but a bit lacklustre compared to the first book in the series, which is the best, A Man in a Kilt. If you're going to read any of the books, read that one, and skip the 2nd, A Rogue in a Kilt, which was (IMHO) awful.


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