As you now know, Tessa Dare is on my author auto-buy list. I will pre-order anything with her name on it and anxiously await the day it magically shows up on my Kindle. She could write a love story between a linen napkin and a teacup and I would devour what would likely be their witty, beverage-related banter for hundreds of pages. That said, I was so excited to get my hands on an advanced reader’s copy of her latest Castles Ever After release, When a Scot Ties the Knot. It’s out TODAY, so head on over to your favorite print or ebook seller and buy it already.
There is so much hilarity in When a Scot Ties the Knot that I don’t even know where to begin. So I’ll start with the premise:
Miss Madeline Gracechurch made up a sweetheart. What started as a way to avoid the crowded ballrooms of a London season has grown into a lie of epic proportions, one that, for the past decade, has allowed Maddie to live in comfortable solitude in a castle in the Scottish Highlands. But this shy artist receives the surprise of her life when Logan MacKenzie, her imaginary beau, arrives at her doorstep, ready to take his place in her very real life.
When a Scot Ties the Knot is basically every awkward girl’s secret fantasy played out to its most romantic end. It’s what would happen if Liz Lemon’s made-up boyfriend, Astronaut Mike Dexter, was less anesthesia-induced-hallucination and more actual man. Like her 30 Rock counterpart, Maddie is, to put it bluntly, kind of a weirdo, but in a completely endearing way. She claims to be happy with the life she’s built for herself: sketching lobsters, bugs, and any other natural creature that strikes her fancy, far from other people. Her castle is her home and sanctuary, but it’s also something of a fortress, keeping her protected from a world in which she’s never quite fit. I think anyone who’s ever felt like the odd-girl-out will see a little of herself in Maddie. If at times I felt frustrated with her it was because it was clear she wasn’t entirely ready to live as a recluse, but still couldn’t quite manage to open up. It’s the classic introvert struggle: You’ve told yourself for years that you’re cool with quiet life and comfortable routine, but secretly, you want more. It hit way close to home.
Logan MacKenzie is definitely more. In the grand tradition of Hot Scots throughout romance history, he’s huge and imposing, brave and loyal, and…a lover of Pride & Prejudice…Ok, so that last one might be a stretch, but it’s afantastic glimpse into the many facets of Logan. Much to Maddie’s dismay, he’s a real man, with all of the complexities of character that come with living a desolate childhood, surviving war, and living in its aftermath. I thought he was just the right blend of darkness and vulnerability, with the kind of fierce loyalty that you know will make him the perfect hero, despite his statements to the contrary. Like Maddie, who can’t believe he reads P&P in bed, (wearing spectacles!!!) you’ll likely think Logan is too good to be true.
And he is, to be sure. There was something about Logan and Maddie’s romance that felt a little rushed to me. Perhaps it was because so much of their courtship existed in the space of these false letters that proved to be surprisingly meaningful to both of them. I adored the letters in the prologue, and relished the brief glimpse we received of the letters Maddie wrote to herself pretending to be Logan. I sort of wished the letters had been interspersed throughout the novel. I would have loved learning more about the decade that brought these two people together. I think it would have made the connection seem stronger somehow.
On a lighter note, I can never say enough good things about Dare’s comedic writing skills. They are on display in full force. The prologue alone, with Maddie’s various salutations to her invented sweetheart–Captain MacFantasy, Captain MacWhimsey, etc.–had me chuckling. Eventually I was laughing so hard at so many clever bits of dialogue that I just had to resign myself to the fact that I’ll never be able to eat without choking and read a Tessa Dare novel at the same time.
Although this isn’t my favorite Castles Ever After novel–that spot’s reserved for Say Yes to the Marquess–I still highly recommend you purchase this one immediately. When a Scot Ties the Knot will take you back to those middle school days when you drew your future husband’s name on the inside of your Trapper Keeper.
Rating: A-, for the image of a Hot Scot reclining in bed reading Jane Austen, among other lovely scenes.
On the morning she returned, Anne greeted her with a pointed question. “There now. Are you all ready to meet your special someone?”
That was when Maddie panicked. And lied. On the spur of the moment, she concocted an outrageous falsehood that would, for better and worse, determine the rest of her life.
“I’ve met him already.”
The look of astonishment on her stepmother’s face was immensely satisfying. But within seconds, Maddie realized how stupid she’d been. She ought to have known that her little statement wouldn’t put paid to the matter. Of course it only launched a hundred other questions.
When is he coming here?
Oh, er . . . He can’t. He wanted to, but he had to leave the country at once.
Because he’s in the army. An officer.
What of his family? We at least should meet them.
But you can’t. He’s from too far away. All the way in Scotland. And also, they’re dead.
At least tell us his name.
MacKenzie. His name is Logan MacKenzie.
Logan MacKenzie. Suddenly her not-real suitor had a name. By the end of the afternoon, he had hair (brown), eyes (blue), a voice (deep, with a Highland burr), a rank (captain), and a personality (firm, but intelligent and kind).
And that evening, at her family’s urging, Maddie sat down to write him a letter.
. . . Right this moment, they think I am writing a letter to my secret kilted betrothed, and I am filling a page with nonsense instead, just praying no one looks over my shoulder. Worst of all, I shall have no choice but to post the thing when I’m done. It will end up in some military dead letter office. I hope. Or it will be read and passed around whole regiments for ridicule, which I would richly deserve.
Stupid, stupid, stupid. Now the clock is ticking, and when it strikes doom I will have to confess. I will firstly be compelled to explain that I lied about attracting a handsome Scottish officer while staying in Brighton. Then, when I do, I shall have no further excuse to avoid the actual rejection of countless English gentlemen come spring.
My dear imaginary Captain MacKenzie, you are not real and never will be. I, however, am a true and eternal fool.
Here, have a drawing of a snail.
About Tessa Dare
Tessa Dare is the New York Times bestselling, award-winning author of more than a dozen historical romances. A librarian by training and a book-lover at heart, Tessa lives in Southern California with her husband, their two children, and a big brown dog.
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