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Scheduled to day is a book review for a book that I read a bit ago and LOVED! If you have been reading my reviews, you will realized that I haven’t met a Grace Burrowes story that I haven’t fallen in love with. The same is true with this one. I hope that you enjoy sharing this book with me. I’ve included a buy link at the bottom if you want to pick up a copy!
The Bridegroom Wore Plaid by Grace Burrowes
Release: December 2012
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Source: I received a copy of this book from the publisher to read and review
The Bridegroom Wore Plaid
In an effort to preserve the family estate, Ian MacGregor, the Earl of Balfour, must marry for money. When a promising match emerges in the form of Genie Daniels, a rich English heiress, Ian begins devising a strategy to woo her. When he meets Genie’s poor cousin Augusta, he discovers a new avenue to Genie’s heart. But after spending time with Augusta and falling for her charms, Ian begins to question whether or not he’s willing to forfeit his heart to save the family name…
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Welcome to Grace Burrowes’ new series of books! The Bridegroom Wore Plaid is the first book in the Scottish Victorian Series. To admit a bias, I became a fan of Grace Burrowes with the first book of her’s I read, The Heir, back in December 2010. I have fallen in love with the Windham family as I have read 6 of their stories to date. Now we start a new series and change gears a bit.
The Bridegroom Wore Plaid as it’s name suggests is set in Scotland. Ian MacGregor, the heir to the Earl of Balfour needs to marry money to keep his estate afloat. His older brother, Asher, has been missing in the Canadian wilderness for years and they are considering declaring him dead so that the estate can carry on. Ian is uneasy about this, but after surviving years of bad crops, English rules and having siblings and clan members to support, he has to face facts. He has opened his house to paying guests for several years, and he live close to Balmoral, the Queen’s favorite summer place. This book starts with Ian and his brothers Gilgallon and Connor meeting their next set of guests at the train station. This set is different, though as one of these guests could potentially become his wife.
Augusta is the poor cousin that is compelled to accompany her heiress cousin, Genie Daniels and her family on their jaunt into the Scottish highlands for the summer. Genie is expected to marry Ian MacGregor, but after years of witnessing her father abuse her mother, she is reluctant to marry anyone, regardless of how kind they seem.
I loved the set of new characters to learn in this book! They are colorful as they are different. Ms.Burrowes does a wonderful job of creating characters that seem to just jump off the page. It is easy to picture Mary Fran ordering her brothers around. Mary Fran’s daughter Fiona is simply delightful. Ian is the picture of duty, quietly tucking the real him away for the sake of the family. The glimpses of Ian that Augusta bring out are wonderful. As with any good romance, there is the villain and the villain in this book is delightfully wicked, soulless even.
I loved the story of Ian and Augusta and I look forward to the next story in this series. I also look forward to continuing the Windham series. Ms. Burrowes’ website is a fountain of information about upcoming books. I encourage you to visit and find out what is coming next.
I leave you with a rather lengthy excerpt from this book that I snagged from the website! Enjoy!
“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single, reasonably good-looking earl not in possession of a fortune must be in want of a wealthy wife.”
Ian MacGregor repeated Aunt Eulalie’s reasoning under his breath. The words had the ring of old-fashioned commonsense, and yet they somehow made a mockery of such an earl as well.
Possibly of the wife too. As Ian surveyed the duo of tittering, simpering, blond females debarking from the train on the arm of their scowling escort, he sent up a silent prayer that his countess would be neither reluctant nor managing, but other than that, he could not afford—in the most literal sense—to be particular.
His wife could be homely, or she could be fair. She could be a recent graduate from the schoolroom, or a lady past the first blush of youth. She could be shy or boisterous, gorgeous or plain. It mattered not which, provided she was unequivocally, absolutely, and most assuredly rich.
And if Ian MacGregor’s bride was to be well and truly rich, she was also going to be—God help him and all those who depended on him—English.
For the good of his family, his clan, and the lands they held, he’d consider marrying a well-dowered Englishwoman. If that meant his own preferences in a wife—pragmatism, loyalty, kindness, and a sense of humor—went begging, well such was the laird’s lot.
In the privacy of his personal regrets, Ian admitted a lusty nature in a wife and a fondness for a tall, black-haired, green-eyed Scotsman as a husband wouldn’t have gone amiss either. As he waited for his brothers Gilgallon and Connor to maneuver through the throng in the Ballater station yard, Ian tucked that regret away in the vast mental storeroom reserved for such dolorous thoughts.
“I’ll take the tall blond,” Gil muttered with the air of man choosing which lame horse to ride into battle.
“I’m for the little blond, then,” Connor growled, sounding equally resigned.
Ian understood the strategy. His brothers would offer escort to Miss Eugenia Daniels and her younger sister, Hester Daniels, while Ian was to show himself to be the perfect gentleman. His task thus became to offer his arms to the two chaperones who stood quietly off to the side. One was dressed in subdued if fashionable mauve, the other in wrinkled gray with two shawls, one of beige with a black fringe, the other of gray.
Ian moved away from his brothers, pasting a fatuous smile on his face.
“My lord, my ladies, fáilte! Welcome to Aberdeenshire!”
An older man detached himself from the blond females. The fellow sported thick muttonchop whiskers, a prosperous paunch, and the latest fashion in daytime attire. “Willard Daniels, Baron of Altsax and Gribbony.”
The baron bowed slightly, acknowledging Ian’s superior if somewhat tentative rank.
“Balfour, at your service.” Ian shook hands with as much hearty bonhomie as he could muster. “Welcome to you and your family, Baron. If you’ll introduce me to your womenfolk and your son, I’ll make my brothers known to them, and we can be on our way.”
The civilities were observed, while Ian tacitly appraised his prospective countess. The taller blond—Eugenia Daniels—was his marital quarry, and she blushed and stammered her greetings with empty-headed good manners. She did not appear reluctant, which meant he could well end up married to her, provided he could dredge up sufficient charm to woo her.
And he could. Not ten years after the worst famine known to the British Isles, a strong back and a store of charm were about all that was left to him, so by God, he would use both ruthlessly to his family’s advantage.
Connor and Gil comported themselves with similarly counterfeit cheer, though on Con the exercise was not as convincing. Con was happy to go all day without speaking, much less smiling, though Ian knew he, too, understood the desperate nature of their charade.
Daniels made a vague gesture in the direction of the chaperones. “My sister-in-law, Mrs. Julia Redmond. My niece, Augusta Merrick.” He turned away as he said the last, his gaze on the men unloading a mountain of trunks from the train.
Thank God Ian had thought to bring the wagon in addition to the coach. The English did set store by their finery. The baron’s son, Colonel Matthew Daniels, late of Her Majesty’s cavalry, excused himself from the introductions to oversee the transfer of baggage to the wagon.
“Ladies.” Ian winged an arm at each of the older women. “I’ll have you on your way in no time.”
“This is so kind of you,” the shorter woman said, taking his arm. Mrs. Redmond was a pretty thing, petite, with perfect skin, big brown eyes, and rich chestnut curls peeking out from under the brim of a lavender silk cottage bonnet. Ian placed her somewhere just a shade south of thirty. A lovely age on a woman. Con would call it a dally-able age.
Only as Ian offered his other arm to the second woman did he realize she was holding a closed hatbox in one hand and a reticule in the other.
Mrs. Redmond, held out a gloved hand for the hatbox. “Oh, Gus, do give me Ulysses.”
The hatbox emitted a disgruntled yowl.
Ian felt an abrupt yearning for a not-so-wee dram, for now he’d sunk to hosting not just the wealthy English, but their dyspeptic felines as well.
“I will carry my own pet,” the taller lady said—Miss Merrick. A man who was a host for hire had to be good with names. She hunched a little more tightly over her hatbox, as if she feared her cat might be torn from her clutches by force.
“Perhaps you’d allow me to carry your bag, so I might escort you to the coach?” Ian cocked his arm at her again, a slight gesture he’d meant to be gracious.
The lady twisted her head on her neck, not straightening entirely, and peered up at him out of a pair of violet-gentian eyes. That color was completely at variance with her bent posture, her pinched mouth, the unrelieved black of her hair, the wilted gray silk of her old-fashioned coal scuttle bonnet, and even with the expression of impatience in the eyes themselves.
The Almighty had tossed even this cranky besom a bone, but these beautiful eyes in the context of this woman were as much burden as benefit. They insulted the rest of her somehow, mocked her and threw her numerous shortcomings into higher relief.
The two shawls—worn in public, no less—half slipping off her shoulders.
The hem of her gown two inches farther away from the planks of the platform than was fashionable.
The cat yowling its discontent in the hatbox.
The finger poking surreptitiously from the tip of her right glove.
Gazing at those startling eyes, Ian realized that despite her bearing and her attire, Miss Merrick was probably younger than he was, at least chronologically.
“Come, Gussie,” Mrs. Redmond said, reaching around Ian for the reticule. “We’ll hold up the coach, which will make Willard difficult, and I am most anxious to see Lord Balfour’s home.”
“And I am anxious to show it off to you.” Ian offered an encouraging smile, noting out of the corner of his eye that Gil and Con were bundling their charges into the waiting coach. The sky was full of bright, puffy little clouds scudding against an azure canvas, but this was Scotland in high summer, and the weather was bound to change at any minute out of sheer contrariness.
Miss Merrick put her gloved hand on his sleeve—the glove with the frayed finger—and lifted her chin toward the coach.
A true lady then, one who could issue commands without a word. Ian began the stately progress toward the coach necessitated by the lady’s dignified gait, all the while sympathizing with the cat, whose displeasure with his circumstances was made known to the entire surrounds.
Fortunately, Mrs. Redmond was of a sunnier nature.
“It was so good of you to fetch us from the train yourself, my lord,” Mrs. Redmond said. “Eulalie told us you offer the best hospitality in the shire.”
“Aunt Eulalie can be given to overstatement, but I hope not in this case. You are our guests, and Highland custom would allow us to treat you as nothing less than family.”
“Are we in the Highlands?” Miss Merrick asked. “It’s quite chilly.”
Ian resisted glancing at the hills all around them.
“There is no strict legal boundary defining the Highlands, Miss Merrick. I was born and brought up in the mountains to the west, though, so my manners are those of a Highlander. And by custom, Ballater is indeed considered Highland territory. We can get at least a dusting of snow any month of the year.”
Those incongruous, beautiful eyes flicked over him, up, up, and down—to his shoulders, no lower. He tried to label what he saw in her gaze: Contempt, possibly, a little curiosity, some veiled boldness.
Shrewdness, he decided with inward sigh, though he kept his smile in place. She had the sort of noticing, analyzing shrewdness common to the poor relation managing on family charity—Ian recognized it from long acquaintance.
“How did you come to live in Aberdeenshire?” Mrs. Redmond asked as they approached the coach.
An innocent question bringing to mind images of starvation and despair.
“It’s the seat of our earldom. I came of age, and it was time I saw something of the world.” Besides failed potato fields, overgrazed glens, and shabby funerals. He handed the ladies in, which meant for a moment he held the hatbox. His respect for the cat grew, since from the weight of the hatbox, the beast would barely have room to turn around in its pretty little cage.
Ian knew exactly how that felt.
He handed the cat up to the coachman, closed the coach door, and swung up on Hannibal, because his brothers were already in their respective saddles. Up on the box, Donal waited for the riders to go ahead, lest the mounted contingent have to eat an unnecessary helping of summer dust.
And then they were leaving the crowded surrounds of the Ballater train station, leaving the sound of steam belched from the train, the hubbub of greeting and parting in the station yard, the stomping and tail swishing of coach horses impatient—as Ian was impatient—to be away from the noise.
“What can you tell me?” Ian asked his brothers as they slowed their horses to a walk. The coach had fallen hundreds of yards behind, the aging team needing a modest pace on the many inclines on the road to Balfour House.
“The younger daughter, Hester, is harmless, but not stupid,” Connor said. “My guess is she knows she has to wait until the older one is wed before she herself goes on the block. She won’t be a problem.”
“See that she isn’t.”
Connor nodded, no doubt resigned to having to dance and flirt—as best he could—with yet another English miss.
“Gil, what about my prospective bride?”
Gil fiddled with his reins, adjusting the balance of curb and snaffle. “Pretty, which should make married life a little easier, at least during daylight hours.”
“What does that mean?”
Gil’s lips flattened. “She’s… nervous. Anxious, but many women are not pleased to be making long trips by train. I can’t say in five minutes of her company I came to any significant conclusions about Miss Daniels.”
Gil had gotten a generous helping of the family charm along with his blond good looks. If there was more intelligence to gain regarding Miss Daniels, he was the best man to gather it.
Con glowered at nothing in particular. “It was MacDaniels until a few generations ago.”
“It’s Daniels now,” Ian said. “Well, keep your eyes and ears open. The shorter chaperone strikes me as pleasant enough, though those types are easy to underestimate. The taller one is decidedly lacking in cheer.”
Con’s mouth quirked up. “Serves you right.”
“She could be an ally,” Ian said. “If she’s willing to see her cousin matched to a Scottish earldom, then a fat English dowry is that much closer to our dirty, grasping hands.”
Con’s smile disappeared as he glared at his horse’s mane. “There has to be another way.”
“There isn’t.” Gil’s tone was weary. “Thank God that Her Majesty has made all things Scottish fashionable, particularly strutting about the Highlands in summer. The paying guests get us from year to year, from crop to crop and shearing to shearing. We’d be on the boat to Nova Scotia without them. They will not keep Balfour in any sort of repair, though, and they leave us precious little to send along to the others.”
“We’re doing all right,” Ian said. But just all right. Another blight on the crops, a sickness in the flocks, a new tax from London, and all right would not be good enough. As much coin as they sent to their myriad relations in the New World, there was always a need for more.
“We’re waltzing and flirting our lives away,” Con said. “It’s enough to make that boat to Canada look very, very good.”
He’d let his diction lapse: verra, verra guid. As the youngest, Con had come down from the mountains most recently, but it was more than that. This charade took a toll on them all, but on Con worse than Ian or Gil. Con was their horsemaster, a man more comfortable out-of-doors among the beasts than swilling tea in his dress kilt.
“Race you!” Gil drove his heels into his horse’s sides, shooting out from between his brothers like a blond streak. Con thundered after, while Ian held Hannibal back through a series of impatient crow hops and props.
“Settle, you. A fellow of your dignified years has no business disporting like a cocktail lad of three.”
At the sound of Ian’s voice, the gelding ceased his antics. They were both getting too old to caper around for the sheer hell of it, but as Ian watched the coach come lumbering up the hill behind him, he wheeled his horse and shot off after his brothers.