On the cusp of her first London season, Miss Madeline Gracechurch was shyly pretty and talented with a drawing pencil, but hopelessly awkward with gentlemen. She was certain to be a dismal failure on the London marriage mart. So Maddie did what generations of shy, awkward young ladies have done: she invented a sweetheart.
A Scottish sweetheart. One who was handsome and honorable and devoted to her, but conveniently never around. Maddie poured her heart into writing the imaginary Captain MacKenzie letter after letter … and by pretending to be devastated when he was (not really) killed in battle, she managed to avoid the pressures of London society entirely.
Until years later, when this kilted Highland lover of her imaginings shows up in the flesh. The real Captain Logan MacKenzie arrives on her doorstep—handsome as anything, but not entirely honorable. He’s wounded, jaded, in possession of her letters… and ready to make good on every promise Maddie never expected to keep.
To be honest, I’m still a little shell-shocked. I haven’t read a series out of order in more than 10 years…and even then it wasn’t on purpose. Never mind that this series is only loosely connected; only the reference of a godfather that leaves his goddaughters with castles in his will makes this a series. I think that’s the only way I could do it – that and the fact that I was at work and simply had to read another Tessa Dare novel. The first I’d read was just so freaking much fun!
And this one is, quite simply, adorable – the heroine alone would make it so. I adore Maddie. She’s this incredibly awesome mix of fanciful and grounded. I don’t know how it works so well, but Tessa Dare has done it beautifully.
I think that’s one of the things that I like about both of her heroines (that I’ve read so far). They are romantic, but it doesn’t stop them from being self-sustaining, productive, intelligent women. They know their hearts can get away from them, feelings becoming more powerful than they intend them to, and they guard against it. They know that love doesn’t solve all, but they hope. They plan for their security, even at the expense of their hearts. And they have such a fun sense of humor.
Maddie cracked me up, more than once, while I was sitting at my desk on break. Her letters to the fake Captain Logan MacKenzie were perfectly, suitably, irreverent. I can see why Logan became intrigued, Maddie’s absolutely fascinating – the way her mind works, the things she loves, the way she expresses herself and cares about others. I’m a little in love with her.
Logan was a little bit more of a hard sell for me. It wasn’t the fact that he started off blackmailing the heroine into marriage – which would normally be a problem for me – because I understood why. Even though it’s blackmail, he’s still honorable, he’s not planning to take advantage, and he just wants to give his men, injured, in need of healing, and fresh from the war, a place to call home. So I gave that a bit of a pass. Plus he was just so damn nice about everything in regards to Maddie. My problem with him came with his anger at Maddie. I get that it’s emotions and one can’t always control their emotional knee-jerk responses to something, but, logically, I have trouble understanding his anger towards Maddie.
She had invented this character to ensure she didn’t need to enter society, due to extreme social anxiety. And I do mean extreme – she freezes, panics, and nearly goes into shock because of it. Anyway, so she invented a beau. Is she wrong to kill off this fictional man? Does this make her at fault because someone actually received her letters and felt abandoned for it? No, of course it doesn’t. And I think Logan knows that, again, logically, but it makes his frustrations and blame feel incredibly irrational to me.
That being said, it’s a small complaint. The book is fun, charming, and delightfully romantic. Tessa Dare is becoming a new favorite for feel-good historical romance.