Karen Hawkins's To Scotland, With Love (Pocket) is up first, the second in her latest series. Venetia Ogilvie goes off to Scotland to see her ailing mother. She thinks. But the man she's traveling with plans to elope with her. Her long-time friend Lord Gregor MacLean comes to the rescue, though she doesn't believe she needs rescuing. But Gregor's help comes with an out-of-season blizzard, his family curse with his own special twist, and they're stranded at a roadside inn along with her would-be suitor, and several other people with their own problems. Venetia and Gregor's courtship is rocky, to say the least, and Gregor can't understand why she isn't more agreeable about marrying him to save her reputation. This one is busy, very busy, not just with Venetia and Gregor, but with Venetia and everyone else, as she meddles in their lives while her own is a proper mess. I liked this one better than its predecessor, but it's not a keeper for me. Venetia makes some choices that will have readers scratching their heads, and some of the secondary characters are far too annoying to bear. This one's earned only three of Cupid's five arrows.
The Education of Mrs. Brimley (Berkley) by Donna MacMeans is next. This debut features Emma Brimley poses as a widow in order to secure a teaching position at a young ladies' school while escaping the clutches of her horrid uncle. She never dreamed that one little lie would create such difficulties. Upon arriving at the school, she discovers the sisters who run the place want her to teach a class on the more intimate details of the marriage bed. What's a fake widow to do? Lord Nicholas Chambers, aka Lord Bedchambers, lives quite near the school, carousing and painting, and he seems to be her best option. If she can persuade him to share details with her, she can remain at the school, her deception undetected. But Nicholas wants to paint her, and he doesn't want to paint her clothed, so they bargain: a question for an item of clothing. Emma's a clever girl, so that shouldn't be too difficult, right? This one is a lot of fun, with just the right touches of humor and emotion, and a hero to die for. I love this debut and hope the author is more prolific than some other authors out there now. I look forward to reading more of her work. This one's getting four arrows.
Until next time, happy reading!