RITA Reader Challenge Review

RITA Reader Challenge: Plaid Tidings by Mia Marlowe


Title: Plaid Tidings
Author: Mia Marlowe
Publication Info: Zebra October 2013
ISBN: 978-1420129731
Genre: Historical: European

Book Plaid Tidings This RITA® Reader Challenge 2014 review was written by Celia. This story was nominated for the RITA® in the Historical Romance category.

The summary:

Christmas in the Highlands…

Not any dashing English lord’s idea of a good time. But now that Lord Alexander Mallory has won a Scottish estate in a hand of cards, he is the unlikely laird of the wild, snowy Bonniebroch. Worse yet, the ancient pile of stones comes with a betrothal. To a fiery red-headed virgin. And a curse.

Alex will have his hands full honoring the first, seducing the second and breaking the third…all by Twelfth Night.

And here is Celia's review:

I picked this book because of its name.  Plaid Tidings?  Come on, it's got to be good.  For the most part, I wasn’t disappointed – the book was exactly what I expected.  Therein lies the problem.  Apart from a few delightful sentences and compromising situations, I felt pretty meh about the whole thing.

Here’s what the book had going for it:

The plaid.  There was scarcely a chapter without some mention of plaid and kilts, and what romance reader doesn’t love a good kilt?  I mean there’s NOTHING under them!  The hero’s refusal to wear plaid made him all the more intriguing.  I spent most the book waiting for him to give in and put on a kilt – even more than I anticipated them hopping into bed together. 

The writing was solid.  Mia Marlowe did a good job of keeping the Scottish brogue consistent with the characters.  She did her research and juxtaposed the Scottish slang well with the British.  I enjoyed the bits of history she threw in. 

I loved that Lucinda was the Scottish one.  It just tickled me whenever she’d growl things in her thick brogue and he’d find it sexy!  This just goes to show women can have sexy Scottish accents too. It’s not just the kilt wearing lairds.  Ah, kilts…

I liked the relationship between Lucinda and her sisters. Sadly, it was underdeveloped and dropped off after a few chapters. There was so much happening with these three fiesty Scottish lasses! I was waiting for one of them to hook up with Alex’s BFF, but he too disappeared early on. 

Which brings me to what I found wrong with the book:

There were WAY too many plot lines.  There was, of course, the love plot between the two characters, who are engaged against their will and yet are unavoidably attracted to each other.  Then there was this plot about the King of England visiting and how the English emissaries were actually spies sent to hunt down Scottish radicals.  Right there we have plenty of plot for a novel.  Clearly, Mia Marlowe didn’t agree.  She throws in a curse on the ancient Scottish castle that only a Scottish laird can break.  Then there are ghosts floating around who are supposed to add what?  Comic relief?  Intrigue?  Make everyone forget what the actual plot is?  Either go English spies vs. Scottish radicals OR ancient curse with accompanying ghosts.  Then maybe there wouldn’t be so many abandoned characters and time spent reminding the reader what should be happening in one of the other storylines. 

The whole Christmas theme was unnecessary.  It was almost like someone decided on the final edit it should be Christmasy, so they threw in some mistletoe and Twelfth Night references.   

I strongly disliked The Knowledgeable Ladies’ Guide to Eligible Gentlemen.  The book introduced most of the chapters with some ridiculous quote about women and marriage, and men being devilish rakes.  I’d have been totally fine without any of that knowledge.  Though I would like to know how someone knew such intimate details about all of these gentlemen.  I mean the entry on Alex knew all about his past, his feelings towards his family, whether he’s ever slept with a virgin, AND how well endowed he is!  I would have liked to be introduced to the author of said book because this character is either a mind reader, a salacious gossip, or has x-ray vision. 

Why did Lucinda have to be a virgin?  WHY??  I mean, I know it’s more historically accurate for the era to have a heroine who’s a virgin before marriage, but it bugs me to no end.  I’m all about tales of ruined women in this time period.  Even worse than the virginity (which is a historical likelihood) is the horrible convention of Lucinda being a walking orgasm who knows “instinctually” what to do with a man’s throbbing member.  I’m glad she was horny and curious, but does she have to be an unabashed, natural sex kitten as well?

Overall, I found the book entertaining.  It has a lot of potential, okay dialogue, and sexy plaid. 

There was just too much happening – too many characters and storylines abandoned along the way. Though I would read more of Mia Marlowe’s Scottish highland books because the one thing this book does really well is capture the language, scenery, and historical context of early 19th century Scotland.  In plaid.

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