Book Review

Guest Review by Dora: The Devil Wears Plaid by Teresa Medeiros

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Title: The Devil Wears Plaid
Author: Teresa Medeiros
Publication Info: Simon & Schuster 2010
ISBN: 9781439157886
Genre: Historical: European

Book CoverI swear I’m not doing this on purpose, but yet another guest review offering arrived in yon inbox while I was editing my review, and I enjoyed this one so much I wanted to share. I’ll turn things over to Dora who also read The Devil Wears Plaid.

I spotted The Devil Wears Plaid the same way I find all my romances; in the
“stationary” aisle at the supermarket. The reason it stood out to me was
it’s title, sort of, which was vaguely . The other reason would be the
woman they chose for the cover; her cheeky smile and casual, natural good
looks were leagues away from the painfully airbrushed willowy beauties with
downcast eyes and heaving bodices you usually see on other historical
romances. It was enough to make me pick it up, although I did endeavour to
hide it beneath the lettuce and the cat food in my shopping cart because for
some reason I was embarrassed at the thought of the disenchanted
fourteen-year-old cashier chick knowing I was buying a book about lairds and
kilts and dry-humping. It’s cool, I threw in some copies of National
Geographic and PC World, she probably never suspected a thing.

When Emmaline Marlowe’s wedding day is interrupted by a band of Highland
brigands and a pistol pointed straight at her heart, her first thought is,
“Sweet.” Well, not literally, since nobody wants to get shot, but moments
ago she was about to make the biggest mistake of her young life, so this is
probably a step up. Emma is a young, proper English lady, who has (mostly
willingly) agreed to marry the much older and much richer Hepburn because it
means her family, who has fallen on hard times, will be provided for. She
has nothing against Hepburn personally, who has been nothing but kind and
generous to both herself and her family, but he’s not the man she thought
she’d wind up marrying. She’s shaking at the altar, fighting between the
urge to faint and the urge to simply hike up her skirt and take off running,
but she’s determined to do what she thinks is the right thing because it
means her parents and two younger sisters won’t be destitute.

So when Jamie Sinclair and his men storm the wedding and abscond with Emma
as their hostage until Hepburn agrees to meet their demands, she’s
terrified, but also a little relieved because it means a temporary respite
from her fate. Jamie would rather not have done it at all, however. He hates
Hepburn, and is only doing this as a means to finally get back what
Hepburn’s ancestors stole from him. He’ll return Emma, safe and sound…
if he can keep her from getting herself killed as she tries repeatedly to
escape, and keep himself for falling for his (of course) red-headed hostage.

Is Jamie the low-brow, uncultured brute he appears to be? Of course not.
Does he have some secret tragedy in his past? Of course he does. Will he and
Emma fall wildly in love after spending three quarters of the book quipping
at each other while secretly stealing longing looks when they think the
other isn’t looking? Of course they will. Is Hepburn secretly a
card-carrying member of the League of Evil? Of course he is. But while it
doesn’t break any molds or win any prizes for originality, The Devil Wears
Plaid does what so painfully few other historical romances are willing to
do; have fun with itself.

Writing historical romance can be difficult. On the one side you have the
purists, the ones who are going to be judging you for accuracy and will be
quick to start rattling off angry e-mails the moment someone uses the word
“fart” instead of “flatulence”. Then on the other side you have the rest
of us, and we really wish you’d stop banging on about cravats and snuff and
get to… well, to the banging. Thankfully, Medeiros understands that just
because you’re writing a novel set in a time when women had to keep their
pinkies in the air while giving head doesn’t mean you can’t be sexy. The
charisma of the two main characters and the chemistry between them is
wonderful. Their attraction is mutual, and feels natural. I can’t stand
romances where during sex the protagonists lose all character and might as
well be two robots beeping each others boops and saying “Oh yeah” every
now and again. Throughout the steaminess, Jamie and Emma keep their
personalities, continually poking gentle fun and teasing one another, and it
actually lends the scenes an intimacy that makes their romance feel genuine.
I would not call the book historically accurate (or blatantly inaccurate for
that matter) but if what you look for in this genre is powdered coochies and
rigidly researched corsets, you might be disappointed.

Medeiros is also funny. Not even “occasionally” or “if you’ve had a few
drinks”, but frequently, breezily funny, which is a rare and wonderful
thing in a historical romance. Emma and Jamie are wonderful together,
bringing out tenderness and fire in each other as often as they spend their
time pretending they with the other would conveniently fall off a cliff or
burst into flame. Here you have Emma, whose mother has prepared her for
married life by telling her that if she wriggles a bit, and thinks of
something pleasant (“like a tin of fresh sugar biscuits”) her wifely
duties will be over that much quicker. You have the twin brigands, Angus and
Malcom, who both insist they can be told apart because, in unison, “He’s
the ugly one”. Jamie’s dry response to Emma’s jibe about Scotsmen and
sheep, “I’ll have you know that our sheep don’t require kisses when
we’re courting them. A simple pat on the rump will suffice.”

As a heroine, Emma is sweet and plucky, fiesty and not easily cowed, and if
she’s stubborn, it comes from her naieve view of the world; she wants to do
what’s right for her family, even if it means she won’t be happy. Jamie is
likable enough, but a bit more stereotypical, at least as far as romance
novels go; he’s appealingly rough around the edges, leading his band of
brigands, but of course he’s also been educated so he’s charming and
cultured too. He’s amused by Emma, whom he expected to be a typical
sheltered, demanding English maiden, but he treats her fairly and equally,
and I liked him all the more for his willingness to draw so little
distinction between a woman and any other (male) member of his group.

So what’s the problem? Predictability. Unless this is you first time
reading a book, you know within the first handful of pages how everything is
going to turn out. There’s no “will they, won’t they” for Jamie and
Emma, because There are a few attempts at plot twists, mainly revolving
around Jamie’s family and the reason Emma feels like she needs to put her
life on hold for hers, but they’re so cliche and easily resolved they
barely register on the radar. Sadly, the blood feud between the Sinclairs
and the Hepburns is nowhere near as interesting as the relationship between
the hero and heroine, and I found myself impatiently sitting through pages
of the Highland equivalent of “OH NO HE DIDN’T” “OH HE TOTALLY DID,
BRAH”. There’s even a scene wherein Emma cooks a meal for the horde of
strapping, stinking Scotsmen brigands who work for Jamie as they shyly creep
around her campfire, each bringing in some scrap of food for the meal in a
stone soup-ish scene of doe-eyed, snot-nosed “we love you, missus Marlowe”
sappiness that belongs in a Disney movie about orphaned chimney sweeps or
something. All it needs is a troupe of talking birds to swoop down from the
trees and style Emma’s hair for her while she sings in a warbling tenor
about the importance of friendship. Preferably while Jamie tried on a series
of kilts edited in an 80’s montage set to Hall and Oates’ “You Make My
Dreams Come True”.

In fact, one of my only complaints about Emma and Jamie’s relationship is
that early on it falls into that typical romance novel pitfall of forced
attraction; I.E, you have two people in a situation that realistically does
not lend itself to romance, but because the plot demands it, Jamie is going
to be immediately irresistable to Emma. He abducts Emma at gunpoint. He
carries her off away from her family, into the mountains, where he tells her
even if she does manage to escape him, she’ll probably die within days. He
also threatens, subtly, that if she does try to get away, and he catches
her, he might rape her. Sure we, as the readers, know Jamie has no intention
of actually hurting Emma because we get to read what’s going on in his
head, but all Emma has to go on is the way he treats her. Thus, I was a
little disappointed that as terrified as she supposedly was, Emma still had
to get hot and bothered by his immediate proximity. Even her previous
fantasies about a friend of her family generally consist of letting him hold
her hand, strolling through orchards, or stealing dry-lipped kisses between
quoting poetry and discussing their favourite books. Maybe it’s just me,
maybe I’m just wired differently. But this does not strike me as any sane
reaction to kidnap, threat, and captivity, even in ye olde Scotland-e.

Which brings me to one of my biggest pet-peeves in literature; accents. If
you tell me your book is set in Scotland, and all the main characters are
Scottish, and maybe have someone talk about haggis or kilts or hating the
English now and again, I promise you, PROMISE you, that I will take your
word for it. You do not need to transcribe what you think the accent sounds
like into the written word, especially since it’s annoying, distracting,
and makes all the characters either sound like Minnesotan house wives or
Jamaican rastas. Another pet-peeve is the repeated description of someone’s
hair or eye colour; Medeiros, I promise you, I have not sustained massive
cranial trauma, and I do not need to be reminded from page to page that
Jamie has tawny hair. He rakes his fingers through his tawny hair. His tawny
hair falls forward to hide his eyes. His tawny hair is blown in the wind.
Mercifully there are no references to his tawny pubes, because that is the
point at which I probably would have started frothing at the mouth. Years
from now when the murders start and all the police have to go on is the word
“TAWNY” scrawled over and over on the ceiling, you’ll know who to blame.

I can’t say The Devil Wears Plaid is particularly memorable, or even that
original, but it is still Mostly Harmless and certainly mostly enjoyable. If
it were a movie, it would star Brendan Fraiser and Rachel Weisz as Jamie and
Emma, and ideally Mister Burns or Hank Azaria as Hepburn. You would watch
it, you would enjoy it, and you would laugh in all the right places, but you
probably wouldn’t think to much about it after it was over… if at all the
next day. I still recommend it because it’s the sort of book that makes a
good day better, and is perfect for lazy afternoon reading. If you sit down
with a magnifying glass and a book of Scottish history, it probably won’t
stand up to it, but if all you want is something sweet and well-intentioned,
The Devil Wears Plaid will serve quite nicely.


At this point you are going to think I cherry pick (ha) the guest reviews that match my own but no, not so much. This was a total accident and I have to say, I so agree with the movie casting. Also, “tawny pubes” would make a great name for a cover band.

The Devil Wears Plaid is available at Amazon, and for the Kindle, Book Despository, Powell’s, and for the Nook at BN.com.

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    wanda flanagan says:

    Hi The Devil Wears Plaid sounds like a fantastic read its a must read for me

  2. 2
    Stephanie says:

    OH GAWDS THE HORRIBLE HORRIBLE SCOTTISH ACCENT.

    That’s what I’ve been saying all through “The Bamboo and the Heather” by Nita Rosemeyer (Which I coincidently picked up over the weekend in the local library’s bargain bin, and now I have an appropriate soapbox in which to rant!  Thanks Smart Bitches!)  Despite my likely origins of some Scot descent, it was the leading lady’s cheongsam on the cover and the promise of exotic locales such as SHANGHAI and HONG KONG that caught my eye (and fifty cents).  I can’t tell which made me want to tear my hear out more: her Scottish sea captain father’s heinous dialogue, or the tired broken English of her mother, et al.

    Let me share my pain, at the birth of the heroine:

    “Lass, why did ye nae tell me?  Am I the monster of Loch Ness that ye should be so afeared?”

    “Mei-ling thinks maybe Captain no like baby.  Maybe no more like Mei-ling.”  Two big tears rolled down her cheeks.

    …“Well, I’ll be damned.”  He started to chuckle as he gently ruffled the bright red hair on the baby’s head.  A huge smile appeared on his face.  “I’ll be double damned if I nae spawned me a little Chinee MacDougall”


    …Really?  I dunno, maybe Scots-hots isn’t quite my preferred genre and I’m pretty new to romances in general, but 4 chapters of “Thunderation!” and “Wee lassie!” and “Ye dirty heathen whore!” wore me pretty thin.

  3. 3
    Michelle says:

    I’m glad I wasn’t drinking my tea when I read this review, because I would’ve spewed it all over my keyboard at “tawny pubes.”

  4. 4
    JamiSings says:

    I like the way Karen Marie Moning does the accents. Just enough to give you flavor, not so much you have a headache from trying to figure out what’s being said.

    However, as a woman who has been attracted only to older men my entire life, even as a small child, I am so sick and tired of the “OH I HAVE TO MARRY A MAN WITH GREY HAIR! OH WOE IS ME!” crap. Just once I’d like to see it the other way around. She’s about to marry a guy her own age or even younger and finds out the perfect guy for her is twice her age. He treats her better, they get along better, and he’s better in the sack!

  5. 5
    Betty Fokker says:

    I think Hot Pagan Thunderpussy is a better name for a band than Tawny Pubes. But that’s me.

  6. 6
    Karen says:

    Clearly Tawny Pubes should be Hot Pagan Thunderpussy’s lead singer.

  7. 7
    anais7475 says:

    “when women had to keep their pinkies in the air while giving head” just killed me! Awesome review :))

  8. 8
    Literary Slut Kilian says:

    Jamisings wrote:

    Just once I’d like to see it the other way around. She’s about to marry a guy her own age or even younger and finds out the perfect guy for her is twice her age. He treats her better, they get along better, and he’s better in the sack!

    Find yourself a copy of Listening Valley by DE Stevenson.  You’ll be glad you did.

  9. 9
    Tina C. says:

    Stephanie wrote:

    Let me share my pain, at the birth of the heroine:

    Two things…

    1)  GAW!!  My eyes!!  They bleed!

    2)  I’m fairly certain that the baby would not have red hair if the one had red hair and the other had black hair.  I have red hair.  My kids’ father had hair so dark, it was all but black.  I’ve got three kids,  and while they all have reddish highlights, their hair ranges from light to medium brown.  (The son with the lightest brown hair married a blond and they have one red-headed child out of two.)  Also, while in the service, I saw many couples where the spouse was Asian and the only time I ever saw a red-headed child was, once, when the American spouse was blond.  Consequently, I think that the likelihood of this couple in the story producing a redhead is so infinitesimal it would just pull me right out of it.  (I admit, however, that it’s often the smallest, nit-picky things that get me while I’ll often let major unlikely things just blow on past, unquestioned.  I’m like that with movies, too.)

    As for the actual review, that was great!  Especially the line about women holding out their pinkies when they give head!

  10. 10
    Randi says:

    This: women had to keep their pinkies in the air while giving head”

    …is the best quote, ever!!!

    That is a nice cover, too.

  11. 11
    Maria says:

    Loved the review, Dora. Thank you for bringing up the issue of some authors’ need to constantly remind me of some particular feature of the hero/heroine. I’m not sure why it’s hair color so often, but I’ve banned authors from my reading list if it’s too extreme. Excessive historical detail bores me, too. I enjoy accents that aren’t overdone, especially Scottish brogue. I’m currently reading the third book of the OUTLANDER series, “Voyager.” Just right for me in the accent department (also my favorite of the three so far). The book Stephanie referred to would have annoyed me too, if her quotes were a good representation. We obviously vary greatly in our tastes, but I think it’s safe to say that anything overdone is going to annoy more than enhance.

  12. 12

    Just once I’d like to see it the other way around. She’s about to marry a guy her own age or even younger and finds out the perfect guy for her is twice her age. He treats her better, they get along better, and he’s better in the sack!

    In addition to Literary Slut Kilian’s suggestion, you might want to try Deborah Hale’s My Lord Protector.

  13. 13
    mcnappy says:

    BWAAAH-HAA-HAAA-HAAAA!

    Whew. I really, really needed that. Thanks ever so much. If they call me in to testify, I’ve got your back on that “the TAWNY made me do it!” defense.

    beyond68: I laughted like a demented seahorse far beyond 68 seconds.

  14. 14
    JamiSings says:

    Thanks for the suggestions, girls! Amazingly my library system actually has both books and I’ve put them on hold! Yay!

  15. 15
    Noelinya says:

    Oh, yes, the accent. I’m French, and sometimes the author transform so much the words to put accent in them that I can’t understand what that means. I didn’t finished The Bride Sale by Candice Hern because the effort to understand the accent was putting away the pleasure of reading.

    For the predictability, well, we know with romance we will have a HEA, but I understand why it’s frustrating when someone that has been kidnapped falls in lust/love with the kidnapper (a case of Stockholm syndrome ?)

  16. 16
    Miranda says:

    Awesome review, Dora!!

    “I’m not sure why it’s hair color so often, but I’ve banned authors from my reading list if it’s too extreme. “

    This can be a first book phenomenon. I love Tanya Huff, but Child of the Grove, one of her first books, had to make the point that her heroine had White Hair! and Green Eyes! every other page or so. If this had been My First Tanya, I would never have touched another book by her (and would have missed Vicki Nelson, which would have been a shame)

  17. 17
    JamiSings says:

    So on the subject of red hair and genetics – there’s red hair in my dad’s side of the family, but it’s mostly brown. While on my mom’s side, grandma had jet black hair (even when she was in her 80s she only had a few grey hairs and the rest was all naturally black) and mom says grandpa had blond hair. (I don’t know as he died in 1971 and I wasn’t born until 1976 and I don’t even have a picture of him.)

    That being said, I was born with red hair and was a red head up until puberty. Then my hair started to grow in mousy brown. Or as I call it – Russell Brown. It’s such a boring shade of brown that I actually pray to go prematurely grey in order to have something about it that’s interesting.

    That’s why I’m a bottle blonde.

    However, certain other hair on my body comes in with red highlights amongst the brown. Just not the hair on my head.

    So based on personal experience – it’s entirely possible for a brown haired man (my dad) and a blonde woman (my mom) to have a red headed child if red hair is in the genes. (Dad’s maternal side – the Converses tend to be redheads while the Russells tend to be mousy brown.) But likely by the time said child is an adult, their hair will have changed color.

  18. 18
    AgTigress says:

    Entertaining review!  :)

    May I ask two questions? 
    (1) What period is the setting for this story?  Maybe the reviewer said, and I missed it.  I do find it helpful to know that when historical novels are being discussed.
    (2) What’s wrong with fart?  IE origins, German cognate (furzen), and already in use in Middle English, in the later 14thC.  It is not a modern word.  Flatus, on the other hand, does not appear till the 17thC.

  19. 19
    Susan says:

    Dora – Thanks for writing this. Laughed so hard I scared my dog.

    SB Sarah:  Thanks for putting it on the site!

  20. 20
    Dana says:

    I am actually fascinated with hair colors, so I couldn’t resist adding my two cents on the whole red hair thing.  First of all, I live in a neighborhood that has a large percentage of half asian half white children, and I have never seen a child of that mix with anything lighter than a medium brown hair color.  Dark hair color is very dominant, and a fully Asian person will not be carrying any genes for a lighter hair color.

    That said, hair color is also not as simplistic as just a gene from the dad and a gene from the mom, especially where red hair is concerned, since the “redness” of a hair color is determined by one gene (or rather whether one gene is “broken”) while the “darkness” (blond to dark brown) is determined by another set of genes.  It is possible that you may recieve a broken gene from a parent, or that the gene becomes broken as a mutation, even if that was not expressed in the parent.  Therefore, it is theoretically possible that it may happen that the Asian mother gives her child genes that become broken and not expressed, while the father passes on only “light hair color” and “redness” genes.  Of course, since we are talking about multiple genes, which would all have to be “non-working”, the likelihood of that happening is astronomically slim (particularly in a person that is otherwise fine).  Perhaps a child with brown hair, but also some reddish tinting could happen, but that’s it.

    In my own experience, my mom had a medium chestnut hair color (with reddish hues), while my father had black hair (no red in the family).  My own hair is very very dark brown.  My husband had coppery red hair in his youth, which settled into a dark auburn after his mid-twenties.  His mother is very dark haired (with no red hair in her blood line at all), while his father had slightly reddishy brown hair. Our son has dark blond hair, and our daughter has golden orange hair (no red or brown tints at all, just orange and golden- but not blond either).  Therefore, in any person with European or Middle Eastern ancestry, even darker, mediterranean ancestry that does not seem to support red hair, I would believe a red headed child might be born.  But not when one parent is fully and completely Asian.

  21. 21
    JamiSings says:

    @Dana – Which begs the question, is anyone really 100% one ethnic group? National Geographic did this DNA thing, I happened to participate, and found out my maternal ancestors originated in Africa, then were around the Mount Sinai region in Mose’s time, etc. (I can’t wait to eventually tell all this to my very racist aunt.)

    So maybe, somewhere very far down the line, someone had flaming red hair and the gene was just regressive for years until someone else with red hair mated with them.

    Or it could be the author’s a moron when it comes to genetics.

    All this talk about hair reminds me of comedian Steve Hofstetter’s bit. He happens to have red hair and green eyes and he’s Jewish. People refuse to believe he’s Jewish, however, and keep insisting that he’s Irish, not Jewish. (Well, it is possible to be both. Barry Manilow’s biological father was half-Irish, half Russian Jew, so Barry’s 1/4th Irish himself.) That bit always cracks me up, especially since Steve cannot do an Irish accent to save his life and he always ends up sounding like a stereotypical pirate when he says, “They’re always after me lucky star.”

  22. 22
    Vicki says:

    Loved the review, may read the book.

    However: “Another pet-peeve is the repeated description of someone’s
    hair or eye colour.”

    Yes, me, too. I started out many years ago reading Katherine Stone like crazy but had to stop after too many emerald eyes. Well, there were sapphire eyes and lavender eyes, too, as I recall but, eventually, there was just too much eye color. So I get you on the”tawny” and will also be happy to testify on your behalf.

  23. 23
    AgTigress says:

    JamiSings said: 

    and found out my maternal ancestors originated in Africa,

    Well, ultimately, of course, all our ancestors originated in Africa, the cradle of the species Homo sapiens.  :-)  That fact is also a good one to throw at your average racist.

    Lots of Eastern European Jews have the recessive genes for red hair (often revealed in dark head-hair combined with a red beard and other body-hair), and many have blue eyes:  it’s really not that unusual.  There have been settled Jewish communities in many parts of northern Europe since the Roman Empire, and in that time, 2000 years, some cross-breeding was bound to occur from time to time, however much it was frowned upon.

  24. 24
    JamiSings says:

    @Ag – Yeah, but to have the proof will still tick off my racist aunt! (I don’t know how the heck she became racist. My grandma was the kind of woman who would beat the crap out of her kids if they said anything racist.)

    And I know that – but a lot of people don’t! I remember on IMDB I got into a fight with a guy who insisted Brent Spiner couldn’t be Jewish because he had blue eyes. I pointed out (this was before I knew Steve) that a Jewish person could have red hair and green eyes. He replied, “No they can’t! ALL Jews only have dark brown hair and dark brown eyes!” (Yeah, explain Barry Manilow’s blue eyes then.) He didn’t want to even consider things like conversion or women having an affair or anything.

    People can be so dang ignorant about things.

  25. 25
    Ann says:

    I have to say—that while I’m willing to let the accent, words, etc not pull me out of the story…  That I threw this book across the room because the LAIRD changed plaids.  Changed plaids?  Dude—they don’t do that!  They have one plaid and one plaid only—based on their clan.  It yanked me right out of the story.

  26. 26
    Lorna says:

    available for Kindle in SOME parts of the world.  But not others, like, oh, Australia.

    Why aren’t authors screaming blue murder about getting the Kindle rights sorted for worldwide?  I would have probably bought this book Kindle-wise, but it’s not available. So I haven’t.  And the ludicrous thing?  Oh yes, I can buy a print version, no worries and do you want fries with that?

    Having bought a Kindle recently, I’m a tad disappointed in the offerings for Australia.  If you look at the bestseller lists on Amazon for the Australian Kindle store, it’s Steig Larsson and buckets of freebie classics.  I bought it to be able to read new fiction/nonfiction in this convenient format (and without adding to my groaning bookshelves), but the range sure is limited (the 100,000+ books we don’t have and the US does appear to be the ones I’d like to read, and can’t).  There are some crazy anomalies too – eg. only two of Gabaldon’s Outlander series (prime examples of doorstop books I’d love to have as Kindle versions).

    It’s the same issue I find with audiobooks – I KNOW the audio exists, but because rights to Australia haven’t been sorted out, I can buy CDs (add postage) but not a downloaded version that can sit on my iPod without tedious transferring.

    So Tess, if you’re reading this, you just lost a sale.  Could you get onto your agent and solve this?  It needs authors and agents to agitate…

    Thanks….

  27. 27
    AgTigress says:

    JamiSings —I wonder how your acquaintance who thinks that all Jews must have brown eyes would account for Barbra Streisand and Lisa Kudrow, to name but two who come immediately to mind.  I don’t know Streisand’s background, but Kudrow’s is certainly Eastern European Jewish.
    :)

  28. 28
    JamiSings says:

    @Ag – Don’t ask me. People are so freaking ignorant at times.

  29. 29
    Tiffany sale says:

    The Devil Wears Plaid the same way I find all my romances;

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