Male-Female romance The Devil Wears Kilts by Suzanne Enoch is a "must-read" historical romance about an opposites-attract situation between two complex characters who each have an edge of darkness. Prepare to immerse yourself in Regency period London, witness a fascinating culture clash, and enjoy some delightful flashes of humor in the interactions between the blunt, plain-spoken Scots and the highly mannered English.
It is 1818. The story opens in the viewpoint of Ranulf MacLawry, the young Marquis of Glengask and the leader of his clan. His homeland, the rugged highlands of Scotland, is a dangerous place where feuding clans openly pick each other off because of hatreds that stretch back for generations. Everyone seethes against the Sassanach (the English) even though the Battle of Culloden, which brought Scotland under English control, happened more than seventy years ago.
Ranulf and his two younger brothers Arran and Munro know that they live in a dangerous world, especially since their English mother committed suicide not long after their father's murder, leaving them on their own. They view their mother as Sassanach, too fragile to have thrived in Scotland. However, their youngest sister Rowena, whom they call Winnie, has fallen in love with the London she knows from her mother's diaries. Her deepest wish to have her debutante Season in London upon turning eighteen just like any other marriageable girl of noble birth. Ranulf has always flatly refused to give his permission. He doesn't want his only sister to marry a Sassanach and pass beyond the reach of his protection.
The book opens on the morning of Winnie's eighteenth birthday with her in tears because her brothers have given her practical gifts rather than beautiful ones to acknowledge her coming of age. They retreat in confusion only to find out later that night that she has run away to London to stay with the Hanovers, old friends of their late mother. Winnie means to have her Season alongside her friend Jane, the younger Hanover daughter, and she has implied to the Hanovers that Ranulf has allowed her to stay with them. Imagine their surprise when Ranulf turns up on their doorstep, bellowing for Winnie to come out so he can drag her back to Scotland. The older daughter Charlotte answers the door, and she and Ranulf have an electrifying confrontation. Charlotte is not one to put up with bullying and she refuses to release Winnie.
Charlotte's concern for poor, heartbroken Winnie makes Ranulf feel ashamed. It isn't long before he's agreed to let Winnie stay in London for two weeks to get a taste of the Season – but with him guarding her every step of the way. He rents a house in London for him and his handful of outspoken manservants. The culture clash is underway as he attempts to fit into London society in a well-mannered fashion so as not to alienate everyone against Winnie, but in an honest way to be true to his own Scottish culture and hard-charging nature. Meanwhile, he and Charlotte experience a strong mutual attraction. She is cool, sophisticated, and tempered by tragedy (especially as compared to Jane and Winnie who are amusingly scatterbrained with excitement over their Season). Charlotte lost her fiancé in a duel and the thought of falling for a warlike man such as Ranulf is unthinkable – she could never withstand the horror of losing another love to bloodshed. As he learns about her tragic past, he tries so hard to compromise and please her even as his enemies draw near in London, trying to provoke him to open violence. This is a terrific book with deep, complex characters who win your hearts.
Type of Romance: Male-Female Romance
Title: The Devil Wears Kilts (Scandalous Highlanders Book 1)
Author: Suzanne Enoch
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks
Subgenre: Historical Romance (Regency)
Setting: in 1818, briefly in Scotland, then in London, England.
Level of sexual explicitness: Level 3 – Subtle (see Levels of Explicitness).
Length: about 300 pages
Note: I bought this novel with personal funds and received no compensation for this review from author or publisher.
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