Friday, March 4, 2011

To Tempt a Scotsman by Victoria Dahl

Book Description:
She Has Nothing Left To Lose...

After finding herself at the center of a very public scandal that left one man dead and another on the run, Lady Alexandra Huntington has exiled herself to her brother's estate and is content to manage his affairs. But the arrival of darkly handsome Collin Blackburn awakens her curiosity and her desire - and the advantage of being a fallen woman is that she can be ruined only once...

Except Her Heart...

After a promise sworn to his father, Collin Blackburn is compelled to seek the aid of the woman who brought about his brother's death in a senseless duel. Yet Lady Alexandra is not the shameless femme fatale he expected. In fact, Collin suspects she is guilty of nothing more than a hunger to experience passion, and the brawny Scot is certainly equipped to oblige. But the quick-witted, keenly sensual Alexandra has a few lessons of her own to impart - on life, love, and the delicious joys of succumbing to temptation...

One of the things I love about Regency romances is their settings and the period.  I've read a million and know what to expect - it's like returning home for me when I pick up a new Regency.  The places, the etiquette and gentility, the styles and dress codes, that sort of thing.  Everyone is polite and dainty, bowing and curtsying.  I expect everything that was customary for the early nineteenth century. For the most part I enjoyed this book, and it kept my interest but I had one big problem with it.  It did not fit into my comfort zone for a Regency.  I tend to be a stickler with my heroines and Lady Alexandra was much too modern for a Regency chit - and she wasn't forthright with our hero, Collin.  She deliberately misled him and I had no sympathy for her.  Her manner was jarring to me and she did not behave the way I expect a young aristocratic lady should. *hmmph*  I admit it, I'm a Regency snob.

The premise of the story is the heroine, Alexandra thinks she's ruined for (nearly) getting caught in the act with a ne'er do well rake, so she might as well act the part and really be a wanton woman!   I disliked this logic and she annoyed me to no end.  Prone to riding astraddle and wearing men's britches, she does whatever she wants because she is the sister of a duke.  She sets her sights on Collin Blackburn, a handsome Scot, who has come to question her to find out the truth behind the death of his brother - a death that she is partially responsible for.  Collin's brother had been in love with Alexandra and fought a duel over her and was killed by the same rake (who's name escapes me) that she was caught in a compromising position with.  All in her first season! Collin is convinced this rake set his brother up and wanted him dead all along and staged the whole scene to make his brother call him out.  Alexandra turned out to be oblivious to it all and wound up becoming a casualty to the whole episode because she lost her reputation when news spread about what the duel was over.  Banished to her brother's estate, she has remained quiet over the whole episode until Collin shows up and wants answers.

Alexandra is no shrinking violet, after their initial first acrimonious meeting, they meet again at the estate of a mutual friend and she basically throws herself at Collin like a cat in heat. Tempting as she may be, he does the honorable thing and does not sleep with her, when she has so obviously made her wishes plain to him.  She actively pursues him and goes to Edinburgh for the Scottish "season" and she propositions him again.  She's pretty shameless with her intentions.  She knows what she wants and isn't afraid to go after it.  It's just so inconceivable that any well brought up young lady of that period would do such a thing!  She invites him to spend a week full of sex with her at her little secluded cottage and he takes her up on it.  He's falling for her and he can no longer resist her charms.  He is a man, after all, and he can only say no so many times.  Their week starts well until they go to bed and - oops! It turns out she's a virgin!  Well, he's furious she lied to him, he insists they marry, she says she doesn't want to marry him (hurting his pride) and then she up and gets sick with a high fever and he's got to rush her (on horseback) back to her brother's estate.  Once her brother, the Duke, gets wind of what's been going on he insists they marry but he won't let Collin near his sister until she's well again.  Her brother is seething, having no idea his sister is the one that started all this business.  Also, since she got sick, she forgot to tell Collin that the disreputable rake is back in town and wants money from her. 

As soon as she is well again, she and Collin have a quickie wedding, but then Collin gets jealous of every man Alexandra comes into contact with!  Plus, he suffers from "my wife is richer than me" syndrome.  Does he tell her what his problem is?  No!  So, there's all this miscommunication between them, lots of angst, she doesn't know what his problem is and their marriage begins to go to hell in a handbag!  Poor Collin - he went from noble do-gooder to stupid husband who doesn't know the first thing about how to treat a new wife!

Then, there's the problem of the disreputable rake that returns to England from the Continent and is blackmailing Alexandra...

He turns out to be a real scumbag and manages to kidnap both Alexandra and Collin and there's this horrible near rape scene that Collin has to watch, but I can assure you all ends well.  Still, I felt like this book was all over the place!  I sympathized to a point with Collin, but hated the way he constantly jumped to conclusions about the fidelity of his new bride!  I liked him better before he married Alex.  She is clueless for the most part, she does the stupidest things with no thought of how it must look in regard to her reputation, and she keeps neglecting to tell him about the rake who killed his brother and that he's back in town!  Grr!

Anyway, the overall book was entertaining and a good beach read on my new Kindle while I lolled around the pool in Cancun.  But it wasn't terribly memorable, maybe it would have helped if I had read this one first, before reading the sequel about her brother, the duke, first.  Something tells me that wouldn't have changed my opinion very much, although I liked the sequel better.


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