This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Genres: Historical Romance
Published by Intermix
Released on July 15, 2014
I thought the juxtaposition of a hero that owns a whisky distillery and a heroine that is on a temperance committee sounded fun and would all but guarantee that sparks would fly. Opposites attract romances are appealing to me, but even I was amused to discover that in the beginning it was more than whisky separating these two.
On a side note, yes I realize that I’ve left the ‘e’ out of the spelling of whisky, but the author educated her readers in the side note that the Scots spell it that way.
The story opens in London when teetotaller, Claire Starke, gets drummed out of yet another tavern where she was distributing her anti-drink pamphlets which are part of her campaign to win the temperance society’s contest of most effective campaign to influence others toward temperance. The insults are not just toward her cause, but her person too. She takes the ugly comments from the drunken men just like she did from her own deceased father who drank hard and hurled abusive words and his temper at her. Claire believes she’s not pretty either, but she is content because she has her causes- both the temperance society and the rake patrol. On arriving to meet her friends of the rake patrol, she learns that Faith plans to accompany a young woman to the wilds of Scotland to answer a marriage advertisement. She gives her opinion that the ad was placed by a true rake and possibly even a white slaver. Later she learns that Faith and the young miss do not heed her warning so she races off to Scotland to save them from a rake and maybe worse.
Cameron Macpherson is laird of his clan and trying hard to fill the shoes that first his father and then his brother filled before their deaths. He is left with little money and feelings of inadequacy to take care of his clan, his home and his family. A group of whisky distillers are trying to force him to join them in a price gouging scheme with him the only holdout and the threats for not joining are very real. The distillery is open and running, but not turning a good profit yet and still his mother goes about spending money on fashionable things and trying to force her fashionable English girls on him to choose from for a wife. James warns him that his mother has advertised yet again and two females responded. Cam decides enough is enough. He has plenty to worry about with the business and will deal with wife-hunting later so he sets out to sabotage his mother’s schemes. Isn’t he surprised when a third female arrives only to accuse him of white slavery and calling him a Demon for making whisky. She’s a force of nature and though, they disagree on the whisky, he admires her spirit.
Claire’s abrupt arrival shows her that she may have misread the situation- just a little. The Scottish lord and his mother are definitely not white slavers, but the whisky? Yes, here is her opportunity to set these wild Scottish straight and educate them on the devils of the demon liquor. After all, her causes are all she has. She’s only good for rake patrol and chaperoning. Faith is the pretty one whom even Cameron’s mother approves of for her son. No man would look twice at someone like Claire, right?
The plot is a nice historical version of opposites attract romance set against the themes of temperance, abuse, sabotage and class differences. The historical settings are well-painted and accurate without pushing aside the story. The sabotage and temperance plots kept things interesting while the romance developed slowly between the two main characters. The romance gets a tad spicy, but isn’t instant and developed at a nice pace since they seemed to have no chance at getting past their opposing views..
As to the characters, Claire is really the main character even though Cameron shares a large amount of the narration. Claire has the furthest to come in her growth and development. Meeting her in the beginning, I was struck by her strong narrow-minded opinions which were obviously formed based on her own very real, but narrow experience of life. She is confident when it comes to her opinions, but completely lacking any self-confidence. She totally bought into all the physical and emotional abuse her father dealt her during her childhood and won’t listen to anyone telling her differently whether it is her best friends or Cameron. I confess that I found the ‘woe is me’ ‘I’m so ugly’ ‘Who could want me’ mental monologue annoying much of the time, but I did have some sympathy because a parent was the one who put her in that state. Cam was so good for her and opened her eyes to a broader view of the world and to herself. She was good for Cam because she helped him get over his grief and survivor’s guilt over his brother.
All in all, this was a superb historical romance with its humor, strong character and plot development and attention to historical authenticity. I will definitely go back for the first book and won’t mind continuing with the series. I would recommend this to historical romance lovers who like a pinch of spice.
My thanks to Penguin Group and Net Galley for the opportunity to read this one in exchange for an honest review.