Title: Scotsman of My Dreams
Series: MacIain #2
Author: Karen Ranney
Format: Paperback & eBook, 384 pages
Published: August 25, 2015 by Avon
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Rating: 3 out of 5 Wine Glasses
In New York Times bestselling author Karen Ranney's second novel in her breathtaking series, an unconventional woman and a former scoundrel embark on a daring mission of desire
Once the ton's most notorious rake, Dalton MacIain has returned from his expedition to America during the Civil War— wounded and a changed man. Instead of returning to his old haunts, he now spends his time at home. But Dalton's peace is disturbed when Minerva Todd barges into his London townhouse, insisting he help search for her missing brother Neville. Though Dalton would love to spend more time with the bewitching beauty, he has no interest in finding Neville, whom he blames for his injury.
Minerva has never met a more infuriating man than the Earl of Rathsmere, yet she is intrigued by the torrid rumors she has heard about him . . . and the fierce attraction pulling her toward him.
Dalton does not count on Minerva's persistence, or the desire she awakens in him, compelling him to discover her brother's fate. But when danger surrounds them, Dalton fears he will lose the tantalizing, thoroughly unpredictable woman he has come to love.
Suffering from ennui and arrogance, Dalton traveled to America to join in their Civil War. The men that followed him were quickly coined MacIain's Marauders. However, instead of finding the glory and honor of battle, they discovered the hell of war. Dalton survives Manassas only to be brought low by one of his own Marauders, he is shot in the face. With the loss of his right eye and almost completely blind in his left, he returns to England only to find his older brother died in a hunting accident and he is now the earl. Trying to acclimate to his new reality and fighting his memories of war, he is somewhat unprepared for Miss Minerva Todd. Minerva's brother, Neville, followed Dalton to America and she demands to know what happened to him but when the earl states that her brother is the one who shot him, she can't believe it. As they search for Neville more questions, clues, and feelings arise, a believed simple assassination attempt may involve more than one MacIain brother and two people who thought they were destined to be alone may just find out they were wrong.
Due to their condensed nature, sometimes romance stories fall into the insta-love trap, this book is the complete opposite of insta-love. For the first 20% or so we have a very gradual leading into our characters, they are very separate at this point as we learn about Dalton and Minerva individually. It creates a bit of a slower start but also a richer one as the reader gets more flushed out leading characters. I had a good foundation for who Minerva and Dalton were and how they would probably attract and challenge one another, which made the anticipation sweeter. After the 20% mark when our leads meet, their verbal skirmishes and battles were fun to read along with.
Minerva was a matter of fact and level headed character that at times came off a bit unemotional and clinical. She is in her late twenties and having decided she will never marry, decides a liaison with her driver will provide her with the opportunity to experience passion. When her driver starts to wish it to be more, she breaks it off. Now, I'm not saying women can't be up for no strings attached sex, we completely can be, I'm just saying this particular character came off somewhat cold in this particular instance, when her overall personality didn't seem that way. (My feelings on this could also be due to how extremely forward thinking Minerva was for the time period she was living in) We the reader, get told Dalton was a rake but we come into the scene during his metamorphosis from easy breezy lad to life is a hell of a teacher man and his character is so much more interesting because of it. His having to depend on people has opened his eyes to how he has never noticed or appreciated the people in his life and with every name he learns and show of gratitude he delivers to his staff or people in his life, Dalton becomes a man worthy of being called a hero.
She startled him continuously, amused him endlessly, forced him to reassess himself, and made him want to be a better man. No woman should have that power.
Dalton and Minerva's romance is gradual, building, and has a bit of the devil is in the details quality. As I mentioned, there is no insta-love here but rather two individuals who slowly but surely come together as their similarities, personalities, minds, and differences become the flint for their fire. The author doesn't knock you over the head with "he got lost in her eyes" but rather has Minerva, without pomp or circumstance, say she knows balance could be a problem for Dalton because she blindfolded herself and then have the reader pop into Dalton's head to see what Minerva trying to experience what he lives does to him. These little devastating emotional moments are what make this couple shine; romance is all in the details.
Minerva and Dalton and their battles, were the star of the show for me. I felt the murder mystery and the romance parts weren't quite in sync or flowed together. The villain was fairly obvious and at times this storyline felt ignored only to also feel dragged on. I didn't read the first in the series, so maybe there was more connection to Dalton fighting in America I missed that could explain why I didn't care about this aspect but I also never felt lost starting the series here. Secondary characters were strong in that they didn't try to steal the show (the neighbor Covington sisters who “watch” over Minerva came very close) but were sketched out enough to create more breadth and depth to our lead's world.
Scotsman of My Dreams was a breath of fresh air with its unconventional characters, not a shy virginal miss or afraid of marriage because of reasons spy to be seen. If looking to indulge in a historical placed in England in the 1860s with nary a ballroom visited, a more grown up feel, and leads that visibly grow to love one another, you'll want to pick this one up.