Friday, July 22, 2011

And The Bride Wore Plaid by Karen Hawkins

With less than a month to go before I find myself smack dab in the middle of the Scottish Highlands for my dream vacation, I'm reading and reviewing more and more Scottish based books to get myself in the mood.  On another note, wish me a happy birthday - today I celebrate a milestone - half a century!  Yes, believe it or not!  Everyone says 50 is the new 35 - I sure hope so!

Without further ado...

Book Description: 
Devon St John has never had a problem in his life—until now. Born to wealth and privilege, surrounded by a warm and loving family, he has pursued a life of leisure, chasing the most beautiful women London has to offer. All told, he has the perfect life and no intentions of ever settling down in any shape, form or fashion. So resolved, he heads to his friend’s Scottish castle, unaware that fate is already hard at work.

Once upon a time, a beautiful woman locked away her heart from all who might try to enter ...  Katherine Macdonald once tasted the bitter poison of a broken heart. To protect herself, Kat put her feelings into a deep slumber. Now she lives in a cottage in a mystical wood where, assisted by seven hulking Scotsmen, she makes stained glass of magical beauty, happy in her isolation until ...

One day, a charming prince with black hair and deep blue eyes came riding into the mist-shrouded forest ...

Devon St. John has found himself in possession of the St. John talisman ring that curses the holder by clasping a wedding band on his finger when he least expects it. Devon vows that he will never give up his beloved freedom -- even when an impulsive kiss from a beautiful Scotswoman with red gold hair casts a tantalizing spell ...

And the Bride Wore Plaid was an enjoyable story, furthering the curse of the talisman ring and the St. John brothers. This is Devon's story. While visiting a friend in Scotland, Devon meets the beautiful and lush (which is code for "big girl" size) half-sister of his host.  Kat is somewhat damaged goods, having fallen for someone years before who stole her innocence and left her in the lurch.  Determined to seduce her, Devon is convinced that he will thwart the curse of the ring by going after someone that is unsuitable for marriage (the talisman ring is supposed to hook him up with his future bride).  Kat is naturally hesitant to get involved with anyone, having been burned in the past and she puts off Devon as much as she can.  But, as usual, a tall handsome (and rich) aristocrat bent on seduction is too hard to resist.  I had a bit of trouble with Devon's unscrupulous designs on Kat, which really affected my overall opinion of their courtship.  Plus, it bugged me that he just automatically thought Kat was not good enough for him to marry at first.  I was won over eventually because of the happily ever after ending, but both hero and heroine made it hard for me to really get into this book.

Kat suffers from not only the fact that she's "ruined" but that she's tall and what is considered ungainly by the current standards of Regency fashion.  She's also very stubborn and I found it hard to warm up to her.  Yes, I know she has a deep seated inferiority complex, but I still found it hard to like her! Devon thinks of her as anything but ungainly, he likes her curves...  She's nothing like what he's encountered before and he's into it!  But, as I mentioned above, I had trouble with the fact he thinks he can tumble her over the course of a few weeks and then leave and be on his merry way back to England.  How can he treat his friend's sister so badly?  This was a major flaw in Devon's character as far as I was concerned.  But, as Devon sees more of Kat while riding and going on picnics he realizes he enjoys her just for the sake of her company and conversation, not necessarily lust - though lust is still a major part of his motivation.   It takes a good part of the book for him to put two and two together and realize Kat is his true love and he wants to marry her and do the honorable thing by her - the talisman ring has done it again (though Devon doesn't know it yet.)

Meanwhile Kat is skittish and is not interested in marriage to anyone, much less to Devon who is relentless!  Soon she succumbs to his charms and sleeps with him.  What else is she supposed to do when he climbs up a tree in the rain and raps at her bedroom window in the middle of the night?  What happens next?  She winds up becoming the one who drags her feet when heading to the altar.  Now the tables are turned.  Once she does finally give into her passion with Devon, she tries to avoid him until the night of the big ball (there are lots of fairy tale allusions throughout the whole book, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella.)  Devon, who is normally fancy free with nary a care in the world becomes obsessed with getting Kat!  How can he make her come around to him?  He knows there's an attraction, the two of them scorch the pages while together, but she's unconvinced in Devon's sincerity and feels he'll tire of her.  You see he told her about his fear that he'll never find "the one."  Every time he's interested in someone, as soon as he gets her, he loses interest in her and can't wait to move on to the next.  He never should have opened his big mouth!  She won't believe that he feels differently about her, in fact it takes him forever to realize it himself!  But, the ring never lies.  Even the one time Kat tried it on, she got all hot and bothered and there was a definite reaction to it!

Overall, I liked the story.  It was diverting and I loved the setting, but it was not up to par with the earlier books in the series.  Devon changed his tune eventually and wanted to do the honorable thing and marry Kat, but I still couldn't help holding it against him about his original intentions. Plus, her brother didn't seem to be all that worried about his sister either!  Even her big hulking highland workers who were suspicious of Devon at first cottoned to him after a night of drinking and brawling.  Men!  

Kat was hard to get used to as well. The "I want you" then "I don't want you" business grew tedious after a while and she was prickly and moody.  One minute she wanted to be with Devon, allowing him to kiss her, no less, when he thinks she's a maid when they first meet!  Then, next thing we know, she's all cold and reserved around him.  To be honest, dare I say it?   Kat did nothing for me.  The bratty and vain Murien, Kat's sister-in-law was a much more interesting character.  

Did I sympathize with either Devon or Kat and their mixed up feelings?  No.  After a while, I became more interested in the side story going on with Kat's brother and his wife who were having marital problems. 

Oh well, I'm still into this family of brothers and the ring.  We'll see what happens in the next and last of the series with the eldest of the St. John brood.



Bri said...

Happy Belated Birthday! You are SO LUCKY to be visiting Scotland, I hope you post lots of pics from your trip! Read as much as you can before you go because knowing the history will give it all so much more significance.
Are you going hit the Outlander hotspots?!

Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

Bri thanks! Yes, I do intend to see Culloden, Edinburgh, Inverness, Loch Ness, and will travel throughout much of that Jamie and Claire region. I'm also seeing Islay, Glencoe, Aviemore, St. Andrews and Skye - all over! I agree knowing the history helps enormously beforehand!

Terry said...

Hey, we share a birthday! I'm, um, older than you and will have a milestone birthday next year.
Enjoy your trip to Scotland. I'd love to go someday.
I've found some enjoyable books based on your blog, so keep up the good work.

Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

Terry, thanks for commenting and happy belated birthday! I feel so good now that my birthday is behind me! I'd been dreading it for a year! Glad you've found some good reads (thanks to moi!)

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