On the cusp of her first London season, Miss Madeline Gracechurch was shyly pretty and talented with a drawing pencil, but hopelessly awkward with gentlemen. She was certain to be a dismal failure on the London marriage mart. So Maddie did what generations of shy, awkward young ladies have done: she invented a sweetheart.
A Scottish sweetheart. One who was handsome and honorable and devoted to her, but conveniently never around. Maddie poured her heart into writing the imaginary Captain MacKenzie letter after letter … and by pretending to be devastated when he was (not really) killed in battle, she managed to avoid the pressures of London society entirely.
Until years later, when this kilted Highland lover of her imaginings shows up in the flesh. The real Captain Logan MacKenzie arrives on her doorstep—handsome as anything, but not entirely honorable. He’s wounded, jaded, in possession of her letters… and ready to make good on every promise Maddie never expected to keep.
This is the third in Ms Dare’s current series Castles Ever After, which are loosely linked by virtue of the fact that each of the heroines inherits a castle from a godfather she barely knows. A Fairy Godfather, perhaps ;-) I’m a fan of epistolary novels, so the fact that the storyline of When a Scot Ties the Knot hinges upon letter-writing was a big draw, but unfortunately, I came away from it feeling somewhat let down.
The story revolves around Miss Madeleine Eloise Gracechurch, who, at sixteen, is so desperate to avoid having a London Season that she invents a sweetheart and tells her family that he is away in the army but that they have an understanding that one day they will marry. Maddie’s desperation is born not of an innate reluctance to marry or desire to Do Something With Her Life – although she does want to do that – but because she has a terror of large crowds, and thus the usual round of balls and parties just isn’t an option for her.
When her – obviously very indulgent – father learns of her “understanding” with Captain Logan MacKenzie, he allows Maddie to sit out this and subsequent seasons; after all, if she is already betrothed, there is no need for her to go to London to make a brilliant match. And here’s the first point at which I stopped reading and scratched my head, because I found it really difficult to accept that a father would simply accept the word of his sixteen-year-old daughter that she was engaged. At the time the story is set, the done thing was for the suitor to gain the father’s permission for the match, often before approaching the woman herself; and not only that, but the idea of a parent being so negligent as to not make any further enquiries just doesn’t wash. True, we’re told that ‘Papa’ has recently remarried and is besotted with his new bride, but that still isn’t enough to excuse his disinterest.
Yet Maddie’s explanation is accepted and, In order to keep up the deception, she writes a series of letters to her fictional captain over the next decade, while she also develops her talent as an illustrator. When she is informed of the bequest left her by her godfather of a remote Scottish castle, she realises that she has allowed the deception to continue for too long and, regretfully, allots Logan a glorious death in battle.
So naturally, she is stunned when Captain Logan MacKenzie arrives at Lannair Castle one day, hale, hearty, handsome – and very much alive.
You can read the rest of this review at All About Romance.