Friday, October 9, 2020

🍷🍷 #Review of All Scot and Bothered by Kerrigan Byrne

Title:  All Scot and Bothered
Series:  Devil You Know #2
Author: Kerrigan Byrne
Format: Paperback/eBook, 689 pages
Publication: Sept. 29, 2020 by St. Martin's Press
ASIN:    B08472FB6T     
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Source: NetGalley
Reviewer: Kimberly
Rating: 2 out of 5 Wine Glasses
He is first and foremost—at everything. A man who's made his own way in the world through ruthless cunning and sheer force of will. A strong and imposing Scot who can turn on the charm but does not suffer fools. His title: Lord Chief Justice of the High Court. His name: Cassius Gerard Ramsay. His mission: To investigate the goings-on at London's most notorious gaming hell, owned and operated by one of the most intriguing and desirable women he's ever met.


Cecelia Teague was an orphan facing a rather dire future—until a secret benefactor from her mother's scandalous past swept into her life. Sent to prestigious boarding school and later to university, Cecelia believed high society was at her fingertips...Then, from out of nowhere, she became the inheritor of a gambling establishment. Now Cecelia must live two lives: one as a proper lady who finds herself undeniably drawn to Lord Ramsay and the other as a savvy gaming hell owner trying to save her business from the very same man. He has no idea she is both women...and Cecelia would like to keep it that way. But what happens when consuming passion and escalating danger threaten to reveal the truth?

Kimberly's Thoughts:
For in the eyes of her father, the sin was hers. The original sin. She’d been born a girl.

The Devil You Know series follows the self titled Red Rogues, Alexandra (How to Love a Duke in Ten Days), Cecelia, and Francesca. Cecelia lived in misery with her vicar father until she was taken away by a woman claiming to be acting on the behalf of her late mother's sister. Cecelia is sent to an all girl's school where she becomes bestfriends with Alexandra and Francesca, bonded through their red-hair and a dark secret, they carry that friendship through life. Cecelia also becomes attached to the school's caretaker and Jean-Yves becomes a father figure for her and a pseudo guardian to the Red Rogues.

The half brother of the hero from book one, Cassius Gerard Ramsay, Lord Chief Justice of the High Court, meets and becomes entranced by Cecelia. He's an extremely by-the-book man who is rigid, dark, and gruff. He has a severe distrust of women due to his mother abandoning him and being betrayed by the only woman he thought he loved. However, his enthrallment with Cecelia has him contemplating marriage with her pretty quickly, until he discovers a secret that makes him think she is just like all the other women in his life.

He leaned even closer, his breath indeed hot on her ear. “Ye’ll find, Miss Teague, that I’m a man without mercy.”

Although second in the series, I do think a new reader to the series wouldn't be too lost starting here. Francesca's family was murdered and there was still that lingering plot thread from the first but I was actually disappointed how it wasn't more included here. When Cecelia's aunt dies, she inherits her all girl's school and a gaming hell that supposedly funds it. Ramsey, as the Lord Chief Justice, is investigating a string of missing immigrant girls who he thinks is being sex trafficked and he thinks 'The Scarlet Lady' is the head of this ring. As Cecelia has just inherited her aunt's gaming hell, she is the new Scarlet Lady and thrown into this investigation. Through this plot, Cecelia faces danger that requires Ramsey to sweep her away into hiding so she can decode a book her aunt left her that, hopefully, supplies the names of the Crimson Council, who her aunt thought was behind the missing immigrant girls. In the first book, the Crimson Council is mentioned and has possible ties to Francesca's murdered family.

I kissed Ramsay.

All I've mentioned probably makes this sound like a lot is happening but while this is information that you keep in the back of your mind, this story was slow. Francesca isn't around for much of the story and I missed scenes with the Red Rogue's friendship. I mentioned how Ramsey wants Cecelia fairly quickly but then he also learns about her connection to the Scarlet Lady pretty quickly too and they're off to safety for Cecelia to decode the codex. I liked Cecelia but I struggled mightily with Ramsey's character. He was a stomping around rude sanctimonious ass for a large portion of the story, uttering a line around the sixty percent mark that wanted me to place him the trash bin. He apologies fairly quickly but at that point in the book, I don't want my hero's attitude to be that poor towards the heroine. Due to me not liking Ramsey, I never really felt or believed in their romance. Even though I liked Cecelia, her character was very uneven when interacting with Ramsey. She's constantly touted as the sweet innocent one, who's shy and so forth but then when the intimate scenes begin, she's dropping down immediately to give the hero a bj. There is a call back to a dirty book she discovered but that's not mentioned until after the scene and it just made it all feel unnatural for her character. I'm not saying sweet innocent women don't want to give bjs but in this instance with this character, it came off trying to force a sexually steamy scene. There was another long bedroom scene but I honestly wanted to skim because I didn't feel the passion between these two.

She was a flame dancing in the distance across the cold tundra into which he’d been born, tempting him closer.

If you're a frequent reader of Byrne like I am, you'll know that she leans more toward the dramatic and dances with purple prose, this story definitely had those overtones but I found myself wanting a more stripped down version (could be argued I shouldn't be reading a Byrne if that is my mood). I don't know if this was due to the characters or my mood but characters and plot just weren't jiving for me. Cecelia is supposed to be keeping her identity as the Scarlet Lady a secret but she goes to the school and gaming hall with her real identity not hidden and with her two friends and Ramsey is the Lord Chief Justice but besides leading a search warrant on the school we never get a feel for him in this position. The whole plot about the child sex ring also came off wrong, it felt like using a heinous crime for some sort of fictional tantalizing hook. The care and depth I would like to see when such a topic is used in that way wasn't there for me and it felt gross.

“Christ,” he breathed, turning his head to press his lips against the thin and tender skin on the inside of her wrist. “What are ye doing to me?”

I liked the beginning and set-up but the middle dragged with Ramsey not evolving, the plot getting left behind or stagnating, and the last ten percent was a hurried dump of resolutions and reveals that came out of nowhere. I really enjoyed the first in the series and with Francesca still needing to solve her family's murder and the reveal of a Home Office spy lingering at the edges trying to take on the Crimson Council, the third is set up to be compelling.  

Suggested Reading Order:

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