Title: Scot Under the Covers
Series: Wild Wicked Highlanders #2
Author: Suzanne Enoch
Format: Paperback/eBook, 352 pages
Publication: Jan 28, 2020 by St. Martin's
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Rating: 3.3 out of 5 Wine Glasses
When a resourceful English lady and a hot-blooded Highlander join forces to trick a scoundrel, every rule will be broken!
Miranda Harris is known for her charm, wit, and ability to solve any problem she encounters. But when her brother lands neck-deep in gambling debt to a crafty villain and Miranda is subsequently blackmailed into marrying him, she must enlist the help of the devil himself to save the family honor―and herself.
Devilishly handsome Highlander Aden MacTaggert knows next to nothing about the ways of the ton, but he most certainly knows his way around gaming halls and womens’ hearts. Still, Aden is not sure how he’ll manage to find a Sassenach bride in time to save his family’s inheritance. When his almost sister-in-law Miranda comes to him for assistance, he proposes a partnership: She will help him navigate London society and he’ll teach her everything about wagering…and winning back her freedom. The beautiful, clever lass intrigues Aden―but is she playing her own game, or are the sparks between them real? He is accustomed to risking his pocket. But betting on Miranda’s love is a game he can’t afford to lose. . .
Shackled by an agreement that he had no part of, Aden is in London forced to find an English bride before his younger sister gets married. When his soon to be brother-in-law's sister makes her disdain know for him immediately, he is intrigued.
Miranda's brother is in trouble and somehow she is the one who is going to end up paying the price, but she won't go down without a fight.
Two people whose futures are trying to be set by others might just find hope in each other.
They didn't call him the elusive MacTaggert brother for no reason.
Second in the Wild Wicked Highlanders series, Scot Under the Covers starts a couple weeks after the first in the series. New readers might miss some of the MacTaggert family background and dynamics but there was enough rehashing to keep them from totally being lost. I do recommend reading the first however, as I enjoyed it and I think it lays down the foundation for the series. Aden is the middle brother and the most mysterious, he keeps his cards very close to the chest and his emotions contained, no one really knows exactly what he is thinking and feeling. While we were introduced to her brother Matthew in the first, Miranda makes her first appearance here and she comes off snobby as she insults Aden right away. Readers learn that Miranda's uncle had to leave England because of gambling debt and that Matthew has gambling issues too. All Miranda knows of Aden in the beginning is that he likes to gamble, so with all the hurt gambling has caused her family, she wants nothing to do with Aden.
That was her problem now, he realized. She saw a trap, knew it to be a trap, hadn't even stepped into it herself, but now she couldn't find a way out of it.
The crux of the story is that Matthew lost 50,000 pounds to a Captain Vale who threatens to ruin their family unless Matthew promises Miranda will marry him. Miranda is, obviously, upset about this and goes to Aden for help on how Vale thinks and if, as a gambler, he knows of anyway to get Matthew out of the debt. It was a little bit flimsy of reasoning but I went along with it and the story started off sparking with Miranda being cold to Aden, Aden not letting her just get away with her rudeness from the beginning, and then the emotional simmer starting to seep through from the couple. The middle, unfortunately, was too loose and dragging. Aden is constantly portrayed as having a grand plan or scheme but since he is so self-contained, he doesn't want to tell anyone, not even Miranda, his plans. This works for awhile as Miranda and him are getting to know one another but the reader is also kept in the dark. The middle was a constant back and forth of Miranda wanting him to share what was going on and Aden simply saying trust me. What really made dragging through the middle not worth it was the ending, the whole grand scheme Aden was supposed to be working towards, gets thrown away and an extremely simple action is taken instead. It made it feel like the whole middle had no point.
If she genuinely disliked him he'd turn elsewhere, but beneath the sparring between them, perhaps even because of it, he felt...something. A slow, brewing lightning storm that made the hair lift on his arms and had him anticipating things he couldn't yet put a name to.
Miranda and Aden had chemistry, I wished there had been more scenes focused on them together; there was a hallway scene with them alone that simmered and heated up the pages. There were two bedroom scenes, the heat level was lower in this one, in regards to what is currently being published. Aden is constantly wondering if Miranda is pretending to like him to keep him helping or beginning to like him because she feels indebted to him and Miranda isn't sure if Aden likes her or is just helping for his sister's sake. Both of these are credible angst issues but Aden's pretty quick internal “she's my lass” and admitted in love, had me missing some aspect of relationship development. Miranda's growing feelings get lost in favor of the whole grand scheme to get her out of Captain Vale's clutches.
At that moment he looked up and his gaze met hers. He took half a step in her direction before he smoothly altered course and continued with his conversation about wild berries in Scotland. That motion, though---it was the first time she'd seen him make a misstep in...well, in anything. And it had been in reaction to her.
Again, since Aden is more closed off, the two other MacTaggert brothers don't really come into the story until later; I think their relationship shined more in the first. I did think the emotional issues with his mother (she left him and his three brothers in the highlands and took the daughter with her to London, never visiting them because of animosity with husband) had more depth and he makes her work for a first step to rebuilding love and trust, more than was portrayed in the first. Captain Vale gave a very villainy villain, some harsh moments from him, and while not completely rounded out for me, his backstory and reasons gets somewhat rushed at the end, he did his job providing the danger.
Whatever disaster had led her to this point, whatever subsequent madness had seized her, nothing had ever made her feel what she felt right now as she waltzed with Aden MacTaggert.
A stirring beginning and a too loose middle that dragged, giving way to an ending that disregarded all the work of making it through the middle, made this a little bit of a frustrating read. The set-up of the series is still strong though, and I care about the characters and Enoch has the ability to create heat inducing and emotionally stirring scenes. The eldest MacTaggert still needs to find his match and I still definitely want to read about it.
His fingers tightened momentarily on her shoulder, and then his warm mouth brushed against the nape of her neck. “Ye may just undo me, lass. I look forward to that.”
Suggested Reading order:
Book #1 It's Getting Scot in Here