When a Scot Loves a Lady
Avon/Feb. 28, 2012/$7.99 pb; $4.99 digital
After years as an agent of the secret Falcon Club, Lord Leam Blackwood knows it’s time to return home to Scotland. One temptation threatens his plans—Kitty Savege, who warms his blood like a dram of fine whiskey. But a dangerous enemy stands in the way of desire, and to beat this foe Leam needs Kitty’s help . . .
Kitty never wanted to spend her holidays in a wretched country village! With snow up to the windows, escape is nowhere in sight. A roguish Scottish lord, however, is. His rough brogue sends heat from Kitty’s frigid toes to her chilled nose, but she’s confident she can withstand that. What she cannot control is the reaction of her guarded heart when she discovers this beast is no beast at all . . .
Katharine Ashe had me with the opening line of the story:
“A lady endowed with grace of person and elevation of mind ought not to stare.”
In high school I worked at a frozen yogurt shop, and this man used to come in every couple of weeks to get a cone. The first time he stepped up to the counter, my friend and I just stood there staring dumbly. I can remember it like it was yesterday; he blushed awkwardly, and looked away from us because our regard was so...invasive. But we were helpless. And surely such a good-looking guy was used to people reacting to him like that—right?
Well, I never said I was a person of grace, but Lady Katherine Savege most certainly is. She goes by Kitty, which, as it turns out, perfectly suits her adventurous spirit and loveable character.
When a Scot Loves a Lady is the first book in Katharine Ashe’s new Falcon Club series, and it introduces us to an exciting, passionate tale of a Scotsman who must return home, and the lady he needs to make it there. The title alone makes me wonder what being a Scot has to do with loving a lady, and whether it’s forbidden or not. In 1816 London, though, English ladies loving Scottish Lords was still a fact that set society atwitter. But it’s another veiled convention that sets this tale apart. Plus there’s intrigue, missing people, French aggression, Scottish rebels, and revenge.
We learn early on that Kitty is no wilting, twenty-two year old English violet. Because even though she’s got a noble family, she’s already managed to develop a tarnished reputation—with a bad man to whom she lost her virtue in his bid to insult her brothers, and “subsequently set her course upon revenge.”
I love revenge tales. And I love revenge tales where the “bad man” gets what’s coming to him. And I especially love revenge tales where the bad man gets what’s coming to him and our heroine gets to claim true love with a worthy rogue of a man who says to hell with your tarnished reputation!
Enter Lord Leam Blackwood—dangerous, seasoned agent of the Falcon Club, who’s just returned from the East Indies—who gives Kitty great advice one evening at a costume ball, when she finds herself snared in the attention of the foul lord who she’s trying to destroy.
“I do not mind the dog, my lord. But—” she gestured toward his costume—“isn’t it rather large for chasing sheep about? I daresay wolves would suit it better.”
“Aye, maleddy. But things be no always whit thay seem.”
Blackwood’s parting comment makes Kitty curious, and recalls a comment her mother said, earlier that evening. When Kitty had not wanted her mother to introduce her to Blackwood, preferring instead to snub the shepherd-garbed Scot with his accompanying beastly dog, her mother said:
“Don’t be vulgar, dear. The poor man is in costume, as we all are.”
As they all were. Kitty most especially. A costume that had nothing to do with her Athenian dress. Music cavorted about the overheated chamber twining into Kitty’s senses like the two glasses of wine she had already taken—foolishly. She was not here to imbibe, or even to enjoy, and certainly not to indecorously ogle a barbaric Scottish lord.
It would seem that this story of revenge is also a cautionary tale against taking things at face value. Good advice for a man who’s served so long as a secret agent, with a constant façade that’s hard to shake.
Leam passed a hand over his face again. Four years at Cambridge. Three after that at Edinburgh. He spoke seven languages, read two more, had traveled three continents, owned a vast Lowlands estate, and was heir to a dukedom possessed of a fortune built on East Indian silks and tea. Yet society imagined him a ruffian and a tease. Because that was the man he showed to the world.
He said things weren’t always what they seemed. And he meant it. The Falcon Club is on the level, I promise, but it definitely operates underground. And hidden things, secret clubs and private societies always draw the ire of the uninformed—and nosy ladies who are also trying to pick their way along the rocky path of life.
My advice in this story is the same advice I would offer face to face: when the masks come off, the truth comes out.
Dolly Sickles is a Southerner with a lifelong penchant for storytelling. Her Secret Squirrel identity is Dolly Sickles, but she also writes romance as Becky Moore, and in the spring of 2012, her first children’s book will be published as Dolly Dozier. She’s an avid reader of all literature, but she takes refuge in the romance genre, where despite the most grandiose, exhilarating, strange, and unlikely plot that’s out there, every story has a happy ending.