Friday, March 13, 2015

Once Upon a Tartan - Grace Burrowes (Sourcebooks Casablanca - Aug 2013)

Series: MacGregor Trilogy (Book 2)


Tiberius Flynn travels to Scotland with orders to snatch his young niece away from her Highland relations. He thinks it's going to be an easy task, until he meets the feisty little girl and her fiercely protective step-aunt. A smart, headstrong beauty, Hester Daniels has no use for an English lord with high-handed ways, no matter how handsome or beguiling he may be...

Tye sets out to seduce Hester and win over Fiona, only to discover that he's losing his heart to a woman who's as untamable as Scotland itself...

Good book. Hester and Fiona first appeared in The Bridegroom Wore Plaid. Fiona is the child of Ian's sister Mary Fran and her first (now deceased) husband. His family never accepted the marriage, and has not acknowledged Fiona's existence since then. Mary Fran has recently married Hester's brother, and the are off on their honeymoon. Hester, who is visiting for the summer, has been left in charge of caring for her new niece while they are gone.

Tye has been sent to Scotland by his father to bring Fiona back to England. He expects it to be an easy task, as his father gives him the impression that the girl is living in poverty with a mother who can be bought off. What he finds is something entirely different, which throws his plans completely out of order. He finds that Fiona is well cared for, if a little wild by his standards. But it's his introduction to Fiona's Aunt Hester that makes him realize that things are not going to go as he expected. Upon hearing who he is, Hester has no trouble letting him know just what Fiona's family thinks of his and their actions, and that she is extremely suspicious of why he's there now. Tye figures he'd better take some time and get a better idea of what is happening before making his move.

In the previous book, Hester had been a bright, vivacious and social young woman, ready for her London season. Now, she is quiet and rather sad, having been banished to Scotland by her mother, after breaking her engagement and causing a scandal.  She doesn't trust the pompous sounding Englishman, no matter how good looking he might be. She's been fooled before, and refuses to risk it again. Taking on the care of fun loving Fiona is just what she needs.

I enjoyed Tye's first encounter with Fiona. He's brusque and sarcastic, but he is also quite kind. I liked seeing the care he took of her when she hurt herself, and how he indulged her with the ride on his horse. He gives a first impression of being rather pompous, with the large number of big words that he uses, but he also seems to enjoy the way Fiona asks about them. Fiona isn't at all what he expected, and he is surprised by her immediate acceptance of who he is.

Sparks flew between Tye and Hester from the beginning. At first they were antagonistic ones, I loved seeing the way Hester tore into Tye about his family's treatment of Fiona and Mary Fran. Meanwhile, Tye didn't understand why Hester was so wound up, since she is not a blood relation to Fiona. When Aunt Ree invites Tye to stay for awhile, Hester is not happy but has to accept it, and Tye plans to use the time to figure out what to do. At dinner that night, Hester has calmed down some and Tye is on his best behavior. At that point both begin to realize that they are attracted to each other.

They fight the attraction at first. Hester has things in her past that she feels have changed her chances for the future she wanted. She also still mistrusts Tye's reasons for being there. Tye fights it because he knows that what he has to do is going to have consequences he doesn't want to think about. But no matter what they do, the attraction grows stronger. They also begin to get to know each other. I loved seeing Tye's reaction to her confession about her scandal, and the effect it had on her confidence. As Hester learns more about Tye's family, she senses a conflict in him even thought she didn't know what it was. I liked seeing her try to help him through whatever is troubling him. The love scenes between them are sweet, hot, and pretty amusing. Tye's fight for self control gets more and more difficult as Hester gets more confident in herself.

Tye realizes that he wants Hester in his life, and he also figures out that his mission might be more successful if he can bring her along too. His hints to Hester about his intentions have her questioning her feelings and wondering what his really are, since he hasn't said. He makes some critical mistakes in how he handles things, leaving Hester feeling betrayed. 

Carrying out his mission from his father has left Tye feeling very conflicted. He suspects that there is something else going on too, and resents being placed in the middle of it. I liked seeing the way that he comes to his senses and does the right thing. Tye's father is a manipulative old goat, and though he has his reasons for what he has done, they are still wrong. I liked seeing Hester stand up to him. There are still problems to overcome, and both Tye and Hester have to face their fears before they can have the future they want. I liked their conversation at the end, and how Hester stood up for what she wanted from him.

One of the things I like best about Grace Burrowes's books is how big a part family plays in them. The closeness and support that is shown by the MacGregors is great. Ian may seem to be pretty laid back, but when the threat to Fiona is revealed, he makes sure that Tye knows just how big a fight there will be. On the other side, Tye's family is pretty dysfunctional. His father is a mean old man who I really didn't like, even after his reasons were revealed. The relationship between him and Tye's mom was one that could have been fixed if they had just talked to each other. Except for her game playing with her husband, I did like Tye's mother. I especially liked her when she met Hester and Fiona, and her attitude toward them both.

Fiona and Aunt Ree were two of my favorites outside Tye and Hester. I liked Fiona's easy acceptance of Tye as her uncle, something that came about because of the relationship she already had with her other uncles. I loved her chatter, and the way she and Tye had their wordplay going on. She could be really sweet, but she also had her moments when she wasn't, making her very believable as a character. She was also quite observant, and I loved seeing her get Hester headed to England with them. Aunt Ree was quite a fun old lady. She was also very observant and had her own ways of getting people to do things. I liked the advice she would give to Hester. She reminded me a lot of Lady Osbaldstone in Stephanie Laurens' Cynster series.

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