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Temptation in a Kilt by Victoria Roberts

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Temptation in a Kilt
Bad Boys of the Highlands #1

Victoria Roberts
Medieval Romance
Pub date: Sept 1, 2012 (ARC review)

H/h - Ciaran MacGregor, the Laird of Glenorchy/Lady Rosalia Armstrong
Setting: The Highlands, 1603.

Read in Sept, 2012.
My rating:                                   

                                                  [spoiler alert]

Temptation in a Kilt is a debut novel by Victoria Roberts. It was recommended to me by a friend who is also a great Highlander (and anything in a kilt) lover like me. VR, being a new-to-me author, I didn’t know what to expect. All I can say, I enjoyed some parts of it, while some were plain meh and quite predictable. But, there are good things in this book too, let’s see if I can elaborate in my review.

First, some of the positive aspects of the novel that I found good. If I don’t give the author the due credits, I’d be cheating. One was, I definitely think VR has a knack for writing. For a debut novel, I didn’t find many faults on that regard. Her descriptions of the Highlands I found impressive. I did enjoy some of the characters and their dialogues. I also appreciated that she was very true to the origin of the characters and the time period, giving them appropriate brogues and speech structure, unlike many authors who don't bother.

I’ve read something about the historical clashes between the MacGregors and the Campbells. Monica McCarty’s Campbell Trilogy focuses on this a lot. In this story, Ciaran is the laird of the MacGregors and currently is in the court of King James. He’s been here for a few days now but growing restless and been wanting to return to Glenorchy, his home. He and his second brother, Aidan is here. But, the third, Declan is a womanizer, a drunk-as-a-skunk-24/7 type who doesn’t care for responsibilities at all. Ciaran is very worried about him. He made a promise to his father on his deathbed that he’d take care of Declan and set him on the right path. Ciaran apparently interpreted the whole thing as he himself can’t get married and have a family, until Declan is on the right track. Sadly, Declan is nowhere closer. So, leaving his keep under Declan’s hand was something bothering Ciaran a lot. One day at the court, he sees this plump girl, who was being poked and scolded by her mother. Their eyes met and Ciaran smiles because even though she was being harassed by her mother of being too fat, Ciaran finds her appealing. But he doesn’t take anything seriously or initiate an introduction. He sort of shrugs it off and willing to get back to his home and his mistress, since he hasn’t shagged for sometimes now.

This mistress, she comes back in the story over and over and over and over again, and every time Ciaran got hard thinking of her ‘ample breasts’ and ‘warm thighs’, I wanted barf, simply barf on him! She also becomes the predictable villain... I knew she’d be, because she was emphasized that way; a nasty, venomous woman with no feelings or skills to speak of unless it’s spreading her legs or lying coolly. Oh, there is fun ahead and I’ll get to that soon enough.

Rosalia’s life made me sad and for that, I was very sympathetic towards her in the beginning. Her English mother is a b*tch of the worst kind and spares no abuse to her only daughter. It’s not that Rosalia has brothers or other siblings who get her affections. The b*tch simply is selfish and mean. She wants to live in luxury, which of course requires money. The family coffers are running dry and now her only option is to marry her daughter off to some rich lord. Rosalia has forever been a downer for her, not a great beauty which would’ve smoothed her way to sell her daughter. Rosalia’s father is a wuss and quakes under his wife’s authority. He has nothing to say when her mother beats her to bloody pulp for defying her orders, if ever Rosalia does that. Rosalia is a subdued girl and has no self-esteem or personality to speak of. And sadly, she doesn’t grow any on the course of this story. Her self-esteem issue becomes pathetic and started grating on my nerves after sometimes. Now, in court, she meets her prospective bridegroom, a smelly, old and creepy English lord who has enough money to make her cranky mother titter and giggle like a girl in front of everyone. Rosalia hates the man. She is desperate. Like any other girl, she wanted a sexy man as her husband and then, Ciaran catches her eyes just like that. She’s a goner from that moment, thinking why a man like him couldn’t be chosen for her.

Later, Rosalia talks to James, a man close to her age and has been like a brother to her. They grew up together and apparently shares much affection. James works in her father’s guards and not at all happy about the way she is always treated by her parents. Rosalia was so desperate that she finally rebels against the idea of marrying Lord whatever-his-name. And God, her mother beats her, bruises her face and fractures a few bones in her ribs. It was such a horribly painful read every time little glimpses of what Rosalia went through the hands of her own parents were shown. When the Lord arrives in her house, Rosalia is overwhelmed by everything and decides to flee that night. She binds her bruised body and wears James’ left over clothes to look like a man. I’m not sure how she managed it with, one, the way she was injured all over and two, with her plump body. How can that made to look like a man’s, I would never know! Her plan, she’d look for her seanmhair (paternal grandmother) in Glengarry. She never met the woman because her mother never let her but they’d corresponded secretly for a while, as I got it. (note here: even though her origin is Scottish from her father’s side, Rosalia has never set foot in the Highlands... and of course, she thinks she’d find her way there............ All alone!!).

Anyway, I’m glad that VR didn’t drag along this little charade too long. At night, Rosalia has a minor accident and her horse sort of throws her off. Fortunately (tada!), Ciaran and his men were returning home that way. His men find an unconscious Rosalia and promptly thinks she’s a boy. *blinks* Even Ciaran does. Ookie! So, they understand that he’s (she’s) injured and wanted to take care of it. Ciaran takes the responsibility and OMG, surprise surprise (and hard d*ck to go with it), it’s a girl!! Upon queries, Rosalia doesn’t tell him much but Ciaran guesses her identity behind all that bruising. He’s mad about whoever did this to her but doesn’t force her to relent. When he hears of Rosalia’s plans of leaving for Glengarry, he has the same reaction as me (see above). He also tells her that she can’t possibly go skipping through the Highlands just like this, when winter is approaching and she doesn’t know a thing about the Highlands, let alone proper preparation. So, finally he makes his own plan: Ciaran’ll take Rosalia to his home in Glenorchy at first and let her heal. Then he’ll escort her himself there. Rosalia sort of balks at first because she doesn’t want to be a burden to anyone. Well, I get her point but Ciaran was making a bigger and more valid point, so her reluctance made me wanna shake her a bit. They also meet James, who comes to ‘rescue’ Rosalia with her father’s men. It was all a show because James wanted her to flee with Ciaran. Both face off but make plans when they understand that they have one goal in common: Rosalia’s goodwill. So James makes a drama of Ciaran’s men attacking them and abducting Rosalia, to smoothe their way.

Ciaran already let Aiden go because Aiden’s wife, Aisling was expecting their first baby any day now. I liked Aisling and Aiden as a couple. It was apparent that she has a temper and is set about to set all the MagGregor brothers into the right direction. She’d accomplished that with Aiden, loves him a lot. Now her worry is about Ciaran and Declan. Mostly, Declan. Ciaran, as the laird, is somewhat on the right track but Declan isn’t. I liked the way she took charge and set them straight with her words whenever it became necessary. Aiden is an easygoing guy, who is more than enjoying his marital bliss with someone he loves and later, fatherhood.

Ciaran has been more and more attracted to Rosalia on their way together and shrugs it off as simple lust. He thinks upon returning to Glenorchy he’d at first seek out his mistress and shag her straight..... erm, as long as it needs to get this itch out of his system. My reaction? *barf* There it is! But, he flips soon enough. Aisling has already had her baby, and she and Rosalia make fast friends, that ‘almost sisters’ connection on their first meeting. Aisling wanted Rosalia for Ciaran, and so she got all her support. Now, Ciaran also wants Rosalia. He has honorable intentions. I have to give him this, he never once tried to seduce her for just to assuage his lust. Not even when he was horny as hell (the kilt can blow a lot of things ;) lmao). Very soon comes the day of the feast to welcome the laird back and the guest, Rosalia. She is again, speechless, to find Ciaran in his Highland garb… Yes, in his KILT! She was giving him agape looks, and Ciaran was enjoying it too when suddenly the mistress makes her appearance (eh, I knew she would) with the predictable hero’s-balls-grinding-in-public manner. Don’t ask! But Ciaran shakes her hands off, though Rosalia is hurt by this blatant display. When Ciaran takes the slut in the stable, she was expecting a thorough welcome shagging of course but instead, she gets her congé. Ciaran is very blunt about their f*cktime and how it didn’t mean a thing to him. Ooh, way to go big man! She tries her all her tactics, trying to call their relationship ‘love’ and shedding some tears but nothing works on the mighty laird. At that point, I wasn’t sure if I should pity the mistress or simply brain Ciaran. The next, as he’s returning back to the keep, she’s calling him the MacGregor whoreson in her mind and promising revenge.

(Duh!!)

Then the mistress tries to get to a drunken Declan but he does something very funny (I was like ha ha ha…!!) when she tries to use her skills on him. I was scared that the boor would end up sleeping with her but he didn’t. At least he had one rule while shagging left and right (with all sorts of maids and servant girls) in the keep and out; no whore sharing with his brother. Me? *eye-roll* Now, have to speak something of Declan. He was a whiney brat, no doubt. Nothing manly I saw in him in this book. He is very good looking and uses his charm to the fullest. The reason behind his dissolute lifestyle was quite the thing! He was sad about his mother’s passing, because he was very attached to her and couldn’t take this loss. I mean, c’mon! I get it that this was hard on him but she has been dead for sometimes now. How come he’s still whining away about this and destroying his life? Even Ciaran tried to talk to him about this. The brothers always would face-off and quarrel about this thing or that, with Declan riling Ciaran up with his mocking (or shocking) remarks in front of the ladies. Told ya, Ciaran was just about to give up on him, until the very end. But, even though Declan wasn’t the best hero material IMO, I’m still intrigued enough to know more about him. I hope he shows some character depth in his book. His habit of speaking to Aisling’s horse made me sad. I realized then, even though he’s with his family, on his own he’s very lonely.

Moving on... The next chapters were mostly spent on Rosalia trying to adjust in Ciaran’s keep and with Aisling, Aiden and Declan. She was also scared that the English lord’s soldiers will come to hunt her down. The mistress kept on making more troubles. She, by now, thought that Rosalia was her replacement and being the vain (and brainless) creature that she was, the woman doesn’t understand what Ciaran sees in this ugly creature. Even though Ciaran warned her not to make things bad by doing something stupid, she still manages to do some s*its. She once jumps with Ciaran, naked, while he was taking a bath in the loch… the whole thing was planned because Aisling and Rosalia was coming this way, carrying Aisling’s son Teàrlach. But, does Rosalia show some anger? Or anything at all? Um, nope. Then, the slut finds Rosalia alone in the stable and really humiliates her by calling her ‘ugly’, ‘fat’ and that comparing her body, Rosalia’s is nothing, so it won’t be long that she’d win Ciaran back blah-di-blah. She also doesn’t lose the chance to tell Rosalia some of the disgusting information about hers and Ciaran’s f*cktime. I was SO MAD, so so mad. But Rosalia, oh no... She actually worries about this evil slut and what will happen to her if Ciaran hears of it!! HUH? WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA??? Are you freakin’ kidding me woman??? I was thinking of killing the b*tch then and there!!! Rosalia doesn’t, at first, tell Ciaran of what his whore has done. She was worried that if Ciaran throws her out, where will the woman go?! Someone pinch me. I mean REALLY Rosalia? That was your concern? Then you go and compare yourself with her, finding that you, indeed, come lacking. Good God!! *facepalm* And when the slut warned you that Ciaran would be in danger, shouldn’t your first concern be to let the man know so that he can take care of this. Ciaran had to force this out of her later, seeing that she’s restless about something. Rosalia’s lack of self-esteem and spunk were beginning to grate on me by then.

Before winter, two people from her own household arrive in Glenorchy. One is the cook, who has always been a mother figure to Rosalia. From them she learns that her father has been killed by that English lord and her b*tchy mother has willingly gone with the man. Horrible, horrible news! Rosalia is angry and sad at the same time. Ciaran tries to comfort her. By now, they’ve grown quite close, having cozy conversations by the fire and sometimes a little kiss and fondlings here and there. Ciaran even tells her that he wants to marry her but because of that f*cking promise, he can’t. Well, c’mon LAIRD!! He was forever thinking that he’s LAIRD but couldn’t really act as one. A brother was on the loose, so was his evil ex-slut. Apart from his trying to stay honorable to Rosalia, I found nothing that I can really admire about him.

After some confrontations, Declan finally begins to see reasons. He stops shagging and drinking altogether, begins to train with Ciaran’s men again. Even though his and Rosalia’s relationship started out a bit shaky, it glues as the progresses. Rosalia knows how to dodge his charmingly empty dialogues. Then again, she’s besotted with Ciaran already, so Declan doesn’t make much on an impression. By this time, the story was dragging. I was becoming bored because there were a lot of talk but not much action to accompany those. There was also the fact that I saw no visible improvement in Rosalia and Ciaran’s relationship. Then comes the very predictable big mis. Ciaran acts as a moron. He was trying to get Rosalia out of his mind, thanks to that freakin’ promise. Aiden tries to make reasons with him. He speaks some truths, that includes the fact that that promise to his father doesn’t mean he’d have to stop living his life too. Ciaran doesn’t like his younger brother lecturing him, certainly NOT so when Aiden’s got logic and the fact that HE’S LAIRD and not Aiden... He screams to Aiden that he doesn’t love Rosalia (which BTW isn’t true) and yes, Rosalia accidentally hears all of this...

*shakes her head in utter ... speechlessness*

The story does pick up at the end, when the evil ex-slut turns out to be Agryll’s cousin of sort and a cohort of him. The last few chapters were an improvement. Declan was attacked on his way to the village. Rosalia and Aisling were fooled out of the keep because they thought Declan was in danger. Both are kidnapped. The evil ex-slut sends a nude and drenched with ale Declan to Ciaran with this message. Ciaran doesn’t believe in Declan at first and reacts like a moron, again, by dismissing Declan’s claims for excuses to hide his debauchery. It’s Aiden who tries to reason. Aiden was forever the voice of reason throughout the story, as you can see from above. I won’t go into this whole rescue process, which I actually liked. But I’d mention that we meet our next heroine, Liadain in Argryll’s keep. She’s from the enemy side but plays a positive (and vital) role. I ended up admiring her and I’d like to see how hers and Declan’s book, X Marks the Scot goes.

The last thing that made me lose another half a star was when I finally realized there won’t be any love scene between Rosalyn and Ciaran. I mean after hearing all those dirty innuendoes and narratives from that evil ex-slut, I don’t get to see Ciaran in action...? What were you thinking Ms. Author?

3.5 stars.

This ARC was provided to me by Sourcebooks Casablanca via netgalley which didn’t influence my review and rating in any way. 

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I love to read in my spare time and do reviews the books I read. My blog Punya Reviews just turned 6 in 2017 and still going strong. I love music and traveling. Sometimes, I wish I could live inside a book, having my own HEA. :)
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