All Scot and Bothered by Kerrigan Byrne
I honestly had a massive problem with the hero of this story, because he was a sanctimonious prig who wanted to believe the worst of Cecelia simply because she was a woman. And he quite literally at one point tells her that although he doesn’t like women for *reasons* he doesn’t think like that about HER, because… he wants to have sex with her? I guess?
Now, there are times when Cecelia actually does a bang-up job of calling Ramsay on his misogynistic nonsense. And there are times, like the one above, where she doesn’t. Where she basically melts at him telling her she’s Not Like Other Girls. And that made me want to SCREAM. I wanted her to tell him ‘actually, I’m exactly like other girls, thanks, it’s literally your libidinous hypocrisy making you want to believe otherwise’. I got that she had a tough background and she just wanted to Belong and he was pushing all her buttons as the Big Strong Protector type, but the reality was, he was a Bad Cop. He used intimidation tactics and violence to get his way - witness the early scene where his men trashed her property while executing a warrant and he neither apologised nor asked them to clean up their mess. He NEVER apologised, because he quite simply believed he’d been in the right all along.
I liked Cecelia, but she deserved so much better. And the final crown was put on me not liking this book when the one and only character of colour, in this novel set in the late Victorian era, turned out to be ‘an Indian man’ who was never given a name but was working for the villains and got shot in the final confrontation. Really? REALLY, that’s the best you could do regarding representation? That is tokenism of the worst possible sort, and it drops this down from a two star to a one star read for me.
**Another reviewer pointed out - and I missed it the first time - that when the primary villain revealed herself, she disclosed that she’d been Cecelia’s aunt’s lover. So not only the only character of colour in the book, but ALSO the only queer character in the book, turn out to be villains and are killed off. When literally the only two characters in your book who are non-white or non-straight are portrayed as villains, this is actively harmful representation. And this is with St. Martin’s Press, a major publisher. What is the POINT of having gatekeepers in the industry, if they don’t use those gates on things like this? I’m so frustrated and disgusted.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this title via NetGalley.