Tessa Dare: WHEN A SCOT TIES THE KNOT

When a Scot Ties the Knot by Tessa Dare
Castles Ever After #3
Avon 2015
376 pages
5/5 stars

The latest book in the Castles Ever After series is, yet again, a delight. When my notes read “lobsters are key” you know you’re getting into something good.

This was my first Scotsman romance, and I went into it sniffing a bit and telling myself that sure I like a man in a kilt, but really, what’s the great fuss over Scottish heroes we’re having now that Outlander is on TV? Turns out it’s the accent. And maybe kinda the kilt. I’m also going to attribute my epiphany on Dare’s hero, Logan MacKenzie, who seems rough and stubborn but, as the heroine Maddie claims from early on, is squish on the inside; loyal to those he loves, Logan is a total sweetheart despite his Alpha exterior.

Maddie, on the other hand, is sweet from the start. An illustrator for naturalists, she has career ambitions that lead to discussion about women’s position in the scientific community, a topic that is surprisingly central in this novel although not nearly as strong as in Courtney Milan’s The Countess Conspiracy although Scot Ties the Knot made me think of that novel. Maddie’s sweetness is repeated on several occasions, making it a motif and leading me to ponder on the significance. Combined with her insistence that Logan is actually soft inside, I would say Maddie functions as a magnet of sorts, drawing out the buried sweet qualities in Logan.

As with the other books in this series, I find that I’m hesitant about buying a slightly bigger plot point – Maddie’s letters. To avoid a London season and therefore the discomfort her fear of crowds causes in her, teenaged Maddie pretended to have a fiancé to whom she wrote letters, and who wrote her back. This suitor, one Captain Logan MacKenzie, was supposed to be nonexistent, and Maddie kept the charade up for years before finally killing her fictional beloved. I have a slight problem with one managing to keep up a correspondence with oneself for years without anyone realising something’s off, but I’m willing to buy this because it is simply how the book works. There’s another thing relating to the letters that I think is not in accordance with the rest of the novel, but I will not point it out here because no spoilers – and maybe it really makes sense and my brain just refuses to think it through. In that case, I don’t want to draw anyone’s attention to it in particular.

I would also like to commend this book for a very explicit moment of consent and respectful behaviour. Although jealous of Maddie’s attention, Logan does not go raw-raw Alpha or force himself on Maddie (as in forceful seduction; I don’t think Dare’s heroes would EVER rape a heroine but they might be insistent to some extent) to establish his claim. Let me quote. Nothing spoilerific, I swear:

He didn’t view it [never abusing women] as a point of pride. He didn’t deserve any medals for it. But it let him know he’d held on to a scrap of his soul.

This is a superb wording of how a hero should feel, and it made me so giddy I wrote it down and thought about it for a long time.

I give this book five stars despite my suspicion that some things around the letters aren’t fully plausible. When a Scot Ties the Knot is a delightful book with a fantastic hero – Dare does it again! – and a heroine who is a good blend of sweetness and softness and pluck and determination. More than that, I think they are perfectly suited!

Oh, and the lobsters? Maddie has pet lobsters. For work purposes, of course, but Rex and Fluffy are also family, sort of. We could talk about the way they are metaphors for the hero, but perhaps that is a discussion for another time.

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