Plaid to the Bone by Mia Marlowe

plaidbone

Adam Cameron, laird of Bonniebroch, didn’t expect his bride to turn up at his castle so soon after their arranged marriage was settled. But the daughter of his former enemy is comely beyond the common, so he’s counting his blessings. Unfortunately, Adam doesn’t know the lovely Cait Grant has sworn to kill her new husband with a blood oath that will set a terrible curse in motion if she fails.

But Cait never counted on falling in love with the man her father had taught her to hate.

Publisher and Release Date: Zebra Books, August 27, 2013

RHL Classifications:
Time and Setting: Scotland, 1521
Genre: Historical Romance with magical elements
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer rating: 5 stars

Reviewed by Maria Almaguer

The first book in Mia Marlowe’s latest series, Spirit of the Highlands, this story is a treat of a novella that can easily be read in one sitting.

I will read anything that Mia Marlowe writes. Her voice and the way she carefully crafts a story make me want to read more; the way her characters make me feel for them and what they care about, and just the simple and elegant beauty of her prose are enchanting.

I don’t usually read medieval-era historical romance, preferring the more gracious and civilized world and manners of the Georgian, Regency, Victorian and Edwardian eras, but Marlowe has a way of creating characters that draw me right into her stories. From the first scene in the village to the engaging dialogue between hero and heroine, I couldn’t put this book down.

I also haven’t read many stories set in Scotland; the dialect and expressions often distract me – with all those ‘dinna’s and ‘ochs’ – and I don’t like to struggle through what a character is saying. But that didn’t happen here. Oh, there were Scottish expressions, of course, but I could understand what they were saying and it isn’t exaggerated or overdone. It also adds a regional flavor and charm to the story. There is also a lot of descriptive vocabulary relevant to the time period, for example kirk and sporran.

Marlowe’s romantic stories often include sprinklings of magic. Here, there is the legend of the selkies, mythical creatures that are seals in water and men on land, who seduce unsatisfied women, as well as a magical mirror. These elements add mystery and charm but they are not an overwhelming dominant force in the story.

The initial scene at the market worried me a bit with its rather gruesome punishment of a swindler – I had brief flashbacks of Ken Follett’s medieval epic, Pillars of the Earth – but, thankfully, it wasn’t overtly graphic or gratuitous. Instead it reveals Cait’s compassion while also introducing her to her bridegroom.

Cait Grant, the heroine, is a strong woman but also a dutiful daughter, ordered by her father to marry the Laird of Bonniebroch…and then to murder him.

Her prospective bridegroom, Adam Cameron, the Laird of Bonniebroch, isn’t at all what Cait expected or hoped he would be. He is kind, considerate, charming, and, of course, handsome. He is also loving and gracious to Cait and her beloved maidservant, Grizel, as well as his own people. He is attracted to Cait’s beauty, but he also admires her stubbornness and sharp tongue. He makes her feel valued as a person especially since her own father doesn’t have much use for a daughter. Their bickering is a joy to read as they discover more about each other. And Cait’s impressions of the castle’s dreary and depressing exterior are shattered when she glimpses the lovely interior; they are similar to Cait’s own low expectations of Adam, as described by her father and his solicitor; he isn’t anything like that.

Callum Farquhar, the swindler Cait saves in the first scene, is a sort of mage who becomes Adam’s steward. His brief but humorous words of wisdom open each chapter. This is one of the things I love about Marlowe’s attention to detail.

Charming, sweet, and sexy, Plaid to the Bone is a wonderful introduction to a promising new series which continues in the holiday-themed Plaid Tidings.

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