For the Sake of a Scottish Rake by Anna Bradley
This is the third book in the Besotted Scots series by Anna Bradley, following Ciaran Ramsey, who charmed me in a previous book when he made a habit of asking wallflowers to dance at every ball he attended. His heroine is Lucy, or rather Lady Lucinda Sutcliffe, a beautiful young woman who is the daughter of an earl and a considerable heiress. Lucy absolutely shouldn’t be a wallflower… except that her father was well-known to be mad, and everyone in society knows it. They’ve judged her before even meeting her.
Ciaran meets Lucy far from London, on the beach at Brighton where she’s taking a sneaky - and scandalous - swim in the sea. Intrigued and rather charmed by her unconventional attitude, he finds himself involved in an unlikely friendship. Only, when Lucy disappears unexpectedly, he discovers his feelings for her run rather deeper than just friendship.
Lucy’s uncle is a total villain, and unfortunately the legal status of women in the time period played right into his hands. He could seem a caricature, except I actually think he could have been worse, and a fortune the size of Lucy’s within easy grasp could tempt men a good deal more saintly. The problems Lucy had to deal with were almost certainly those faced by more than one real woman who probably didn’t have a Ciaran Ramsey to help them escape.
There were a lot of things I liked about Ciaran and Lucy’s romance, but I had two big problems with the book. One was the overly-contrived way Lucy kept insisting they were ‘just friends’ when it had already been made clear to her by Ciaran that he thought a lot more of her than that, and she’d already admitted her own feelings to herself. The second was the ‘extra’ romances… I don’t mind one secondary romance, but the fact that there were two here just distracted from the main plot. Both ‘side’ romances could have had their own story, even if just a novella. Stuffing them in here felt like padding the word count.
I couldn’t quite decide whether to give this three or four stars, but in the end I think I’m going to bump it up to four, because I did enjoy the main romance plot and the two protagonists.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this title via NetGalley.