Friday, January 25, 2013
A Scandalous Scot
Jean MacDonald has taken refuge at Ballindair Castle in the Highlands of Scotland, working as a maid, after a scandal in Inverness rocked her world and changed her life. When not trying to keep her beautiful sister, Catriona, from getting into trouble she wanders the halls searching for one of the many ghosts of Ballindair. Morgan MacCraig, retreats to his family estate after his own scandal leaves him the laughingstock of London. He hopes to live up to his father's reputation as a hero of Scotland by managing his own estate and slowly winning back the regard of his countrymen. His friend Andrew, a married womanizer, accompanies him and while Andrew sets his sights on winning Catriona, Morgan is far more intrigued by the ghost hunting beauty who wanders his halls and isn't scared to speak her mind in front of him. He finds himself looking forward to their encounters while she is out ghost hunting as the two of them talk about family ghosts and skirt around the issues hidden in their pasts. Morgan is haunted by the flagrant way his wife cheated on him with almost everyone in the ton and finds that Jean makes him forget what happened.
Jean sees the way Morgan tries so hard to live up to everyone's expectations and wishes there was some way to show him that he is already a man worthy of other's respect. As things get more interesting between Jean and Morgan, Catriona is trying to find a way to turn her beauty into something more. When she reveals her plan to become Morgan's mistress, Jean attempts to enlists Andrew's help and everything ends up backfiring when it is Jean caught in Morgan's room. Deciding that now is the time to show how honorable he is Morgan agrees to marry Jean, even while Jean is terrified that their marriage is a sham since she is still hiding to avoid her own scandal. She attempts to avoid the marriage, but there is no getting around Morgan's determination and her own secret desire for him. Catriona is bitter that Jean has outmaneuvered her and decides her best bet is to become Andrew's mistress and Jean feels she has to protect herself. She knows that she risks Morgan discovering everything she has been trying so hard to hide, but she doesn't know that Morgan recognizes how vital she has becoming in his life and will let nothing stand in the way of their happiness.
Jean was a rather bland heroine in my opinion; although she had interests in many different subjects I never really felt like she was truly passionate about anything, including Morgan. She didn't get excited or angry about anything really, just handled everything as it came and it annoyed me and made her seem incredibly unrealistic. She was anxious about her past, which certainly set up the conflict of the story, but her background turned out to be rather ho hum in my opinion as it had been blown out of proportion. Morgan's tortured background was far more interesting to me as he strived to live up the unrealistic (and unreal) expectations he had for himself and dealt with the issues surrounding his divorce. I enjoyed reading about his coming to grips with what his wife did to him and with the truth about his father as he came to the realization that he was his own man and just as worthy of respect as anyone. Perhaps that was the best part of their relationship as Jean helped him to this understanding through her support. Unfortunately the rest of their relationship was pretty boring and, while I liked that there was not a lot of arguing between them, I would have appreciated some excitement!
Jean and Morgan did not spend enough time together in my opinion, and the time they did seemed to be taken up by unimportant things, like the ghost hunting. They skirted around important issues and I don't see how they were able to fall in love. There was very little sex between them and it was at best, lukewarm and contributed absolutely nothing to the romance between the characters. Surprisingly enough I found the little plot involving Catriona to be more interesting than anything surrounding Jean. Catriona was a wonderfully written pretty, spoiled, and absolutely detestable person who you rooted against, but couldn't help wanting to read more about. She was perfectly mercenary and detestable, but I understood her motives, advancement and money, far more than Jean's far too polite and perfect desires. I felt like ghost aspect of the story was completely ridiculous and I did not really see what purpose it served other than to pop up at annoying instances and distract from anything important really happening.
Rating: A fast read, but rather boring, with a boring heroine and a character whose interesting past and development was overshadowed by a lukewarm romance.