The Devil Wears Kilts by Suzanne Enoch
Scandalous Highlanders #1
St. Martin’s Press 2013
I don’t remember how I heard about Suzanne Enoch, but I reserved this book from the library, and it came, and it sat in my pile for a bit until I finally picked it up, suspicious yet again about starting on a new author. And it turns out I didn’t need to be suspicious at all: I knew by page ten that I would want more of this, and SOON.
Not only do the main characters that will feature in the rest of the series endear themselves to you immediately, the heroine of this particular novel, Charlotte Hanover, is also delicious. At 25 and having lost a fiancé, Charlotte is considered to be on the shelf, and she concentrates on navigating her younger sister and her friend, the hero’s sister, through their come-out in London. Our delightfully grumpy and stubborn hero, Ranulf, is not best pleased with his sister’s fascination with the ton, and chooses to keep an eye on her.
This more or less brings us to one of the reigning themes of this novel, prejudice. Ranulf dislikes the English and especially the upper classes for the way they conduct their affairs in Scotland, and the high society certainly has reservations when it comes to this temperamental Highlander. Charlotte, in turn, is prejudiced against pride – how’s THAT for a nice indirect literary reference? – and both of them rely too much on first impressions, as it were (this book just keeps on giving, thematically).
There are several things I particularly enjoy about this book, and I will give you the three top ones. First one is the development of the attraction and emotion between the main characters: no insta love here! I found the development unusually credible, even if not subtle on the level of, say, Heyer’s Frederica, but I don’t think it needs to be. They also grow to respect each other and see the other’s point of view, which is likewise done with great care and without being neither too in-your-face or too subtle. The second is their understanding of each other as adults with thoughts of their own: he doesn’t try to manage her, and she isn’t afraid to tell him what she thinks. They can discuss things, and there is next to none of the usual lack of communication that so often provides the conflict in romance. And third – they develop a playful inside joke that I enjoyed enormously.
Overall, I find very little fault with this book. Yes, the secondary revenge plot could have been given some more gravitas and a tiny bit more attention, but then again, I wasn’t here for that plot nor will anyone really be. There were also some ideas that I found somewhat anachronistic, like some of Ranulf’s worry over his sister, but that aided the plot and really, what historical romance isn’t anachronistic?
For a first encounter with an author, this was fantastic, and I’m already rearing to get more of this series from the library. Five out of five stars, absolutely deserved, and I trust the series will just get better. If you like Tessa Dare, I would recommend Enoch – there’s a similar mix of fun and emotion here, although based on current experience I would claim Dare uses slightly more humour. However that may be, The Devil Wears Kilts is entirely enjoyable and I heartily recommend it to one and all!