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Monday, November 19, 2012

The Bridegroom Wore Plaid by Grace Burrowes

The Bridegroom Wore Plaid by Grace Burrowes
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Historical - Victorian Age
Length: Full Length (371 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

His Family or His Heart — One of Them Will Be Betrayed...

Ian MacGregor is wooing a woman who's wrong for him in every way. As the new Earl of Balfour, though, he must marry an English heiress to repair the family fortunes.

But in his intended's penniless chaperone, Augusta, Ian is finding everything he's ever wanted in a wife.

A story of love, not just the usual love story,The Bridegroom Wore Plaid teems with vibrant characters. Some are heartwarming; others steal one’s breath away, while others give that “feel-good” charm that makes one happy to share in their experience. Conversely, one particular character raises the hackles of even the most tolerant.  He is an antagonist that one could really learn to hate.

With just enough history to show how the desperation and mindset of the characters came to be, the story comes alive with characters using all the means at their disposal to secure what is most important to them.

The writing flows along like music with four haunting beautiful themes of love, two themes with a strong beat of loyalty and steadfastness, and then there is a low, grumbling theme that would overridden all if allowed. Grace Burrowes enchants with metaphors that help the reader feel the pressing despair of need; the pure joy of true, giving love; the humor that delights; and the tenacious courage that keeps on keeping on.

The arranged marriage plan seems to stick in the craw of everyone but the Baron of Altsax and Gribbony. He really doesn’t care how anybody feels or whether they get hurt so long as he gets what he wants and gets it quickly.

Ian MacGregor, the “almost” Earl of Balfour plans to sacrifice his own desire for a love marriage to insure the future security of his family and clan. His sense of honor and family duty rules his actions. Never again does he want to see his own in need or near starvation.

Augusta Merrick, the Baron’s niece, arrives on the scene with all the trapping of an eccentric spinster, cat and all. Her metamorphosis, or maybe better her reawakening, is a lilting note throughout the story. The relationship she has with the intrepid little, red-haired Fiona is a kindred-soul connection that Ms. Burrowes lets the reader share in marvelous ways. After many years of subsistence living, Augusta dances again. She makes Ian MacGregor feel like he is dancing with music in his arms. Augusta loves Ian MacGregor but she knows he feels he must marry for money; so she will do whatever it takes to insure he is happy.

Gil and Connor, Ian’s brothers, work just as hard as Ian to rebuild the Earldom but they abhor the idea of Ian marrying for money. They realize it would make him feel like “a neutered Scottish hound on a short English leash”. But they persevere with Cupid giving them no rest. Secrecy and high, often strained, emotions run rampant.

Ian’s sister Mary Frances, a widow and mother of Fiona, is a formidable, beautiful woman who runs Balfour with efficiency. She may order everyone about and scold, but she loves her family and her loyalty is unfailing, without measure. Her personal life is somewhat of a wreck, but quietly tiptoes in for her.

How these MacGregor siblings get paired off with the “paying guests” from England is fantastic reading. The Baron, Willard Daniels, is bound and determined that his oldest daughter Eugenia will marry Ian for a title when all she wants is to marry for love. Hester the Baron’s younger daughter really is more interested in getting back to London Society than anything else. One of the chaperones, Mrs. Julia Redmond, a widow, is struggling with loneliness and is hard pressed to do chaperone duty when she has found something far more interesting to do. Augusta, the Baron’s disenfranchised niece, is blooming in Scotland and is escaping all kinds of dangers. A quiet and seemingly afterthought is Matthew Daniels, the Baron’s son, who is a disappointment to the Baron. He has gone into “the trades” that is far beneath his station in life according to the Baron. He seems so inconsequential. Or is he?

The plot moves along apace with complicated sub-plots and humorous asides. They keep the action lively and charged with strong emotions as the main plot keeps things tense and edgy much of the time. Of course, those Highlander MacGregor men—gorgeous and to-die-for lovers—can make one almost forget the plot at times.

The shining, exquisite jewels of the story are the love scenes that range from frolicking fun to the soul-mate, magical, joyous love that defeats conscience and common sense so that unquenchable “happy-ever-afters” come to reign.

Grace Burrowes steps out of the Regency Era into the Victorian Age with an awesome tale. She makes the story magical with her eloquent writing style that is lyrical and full of poignant metaphors. It touches the heart and lingers. The Bridegroom Wore Plaid is a rich, emotion-filled tale to be enjoyed more than once.