From New York Times bestselling author Julia London, comes DEVIL IN TARTAN—the fourth novel in her Highland Grooms Series!
DEVIL IN TARTAN releases on February 20, 2018. Pre-order your copy today!
Lottie Livingstone bears the weight of an island on her shoulders. Under threat of losing their home, she and her clan take to the seas to sell a shipload of illegal whiskey. When an attack leaves them vulnerable, she transforms from a maiden daughter to a clever warrior. For survival, she orchestrates the siege of a rival’s ship and now holds the devilish Scottish captain Aulay Mackenzie under her command.
Tied, captive and forced to watch a stunning siren commandeer the Mackenzie ship, Aulay burns with the desire to seize control—of the ship and Lottie. He has resigned himself to a life of solitude on the open seas, but her beauty tantalizes him like nothing has before. As authorities and enemies close in, he is torn between surrendering her to justice and defending her from assailants. He’ll lose her forever, unless he’s willing to sacrifice the unimaginable…
“What do we do now?” asked Norval Livingstone.
Diah, but Lottie’s head hurt. She wished everyone would stop looking to her to solve everything. Could they not see she’d made a mess of things thus far? The terror and panic that had shot through her when Gilroy shouted they’d taken a shot to the bow and were taking on water had blinded her to all common sense. They didn’t know who attacked them, they didn’t know why and had only one gun on board to fight the larger ship, one they scarcely knew how to fire. But fire it they had, and the cannon shot had hit something explosive on the other ship and had sent flames shooting into the air. All quite by accident—she thought it nothing short of magical that they’d hit the ship at all. Just as quickly as it had come upon them, that ship turned about and fled toward Scotland.
She should have done what Gilroy advised once the fighting had ended and the other ship had fled. She should have agreed to let the crew draw straws to see who would accompany her and her father back to Scotland on the jolly boat, while the others tried to sail the listing ship back to shore. But then someone had shouted another ship was approaching, and her father had begged her not to turn back and Lottie had come up with an impetuous, foolish, dangerous plan that she prayed would save them all.
It was so absurd that she still couldn’t believe it had worked.
“Aye, well then, Gilroy, what do you see?” asked Duff MacGuire. He was the resident thespian of the Livingstone clan and had played the part of spokesman on the jolly when the Mackenzie ship had come to their aid.
“It has begun to rain,” Gilroy said flatly. “And my ship has sunk.”
He turned his back to the porthole. There were lines on his face Lottie had never seen before. “We should no’ have sailed her,” he said morosely. “I said as much to Bernt, I did, but he convinced me ours was a noble endeavor. Diah, she’s gone now.”
“I’m so verra sorry, Gilroy,” Lottie muttered.
“I donna like it,” Drustan said, his voice full of panic. Lottie’s younger brother was rocking back and forth on his heels, but because he was so unusually large, he kept knocking into the table. She put her hand on his arm to calm him, but he was staring with horror at their father, a bead of perspiration sliding down his temple. He was confused. But then again, poor Drustan was always confused. He’d been born with the cord wrapped round his neck and had very nearly died. He’d never been quite right.
Lottie’s mother had always said Drustan was special in ways unlike anyone else. “Mark me, that lad has a brilliance in him. We’ve just no’ discovered it yet.”
“Donna worry about Fader,” Lottie said to Drustan. “He’s quite strong. You know that he is. He’s sleeping now because Morven gave him a sleeping draught so that he might heal, aye? You and Mats go with Gilroy now. There’s much work to be done.” She looked to Gilroy for confirmation, but the man was studying his feet, lost in thought.
Mathais, Lottie’s brash and youngest brother, moved to her side, his chest puffed like a fat pigeon. He’d only recently turned fourteen years to Drustan’s twenty years and her twenty-three. He had the heart of a warrior, but was still a child. He declared, “I’ll go, Lot. You need no’ send Drustan. He’ll only be in the way, he will.”
Lottie was too despondent to argue. “Aye, go,” she said, waving a hand at Mathais. “Take Drustan with you.”
Mathais rolled his eyes.
“Hmm?” He glanced up.
“Should no’ someone sail the ship, then?” she asked gently.
His brow furrowed as if the thought had just occurred to him. “Do you mean to say no one is sailing her?”
“Well who would sail it, Gilroy?” Duff asked with exasperation.
“Bloody hell, have we all lost our minds?” Gilroy demanded sternly, and began to make his way out of the overstuffed cabin.
Devil in Tartan, the 4th book in the Highland Grooms series, took a while for me to really get into. Lottie, the heroine, is pretty prickly from the start, and Aulay, the hero, has a massive chip on his shoulder due to what he sees his place in his family as. The romance is slooooooow moving–mostly due to everything else that is going on in the book–and that “everything else” is, at times, pretty complicated and involved.
I’m not even sure at what point I was in the book–30%? 40%–but I suddenly realized that the story had me in its grip. Lottie and Aulay had drawn me into their world, and by the time we got to the end where everything looked bleak and nothing could possibly be done to make it right again, I think I was possibly more upset even than the characters. For sure I was trying just as hard to figure out how to fix it (I failed. Thankfully, they didn’t–phew!) and I finished the book with a great big smile on my face.
Devil in Tartan should work fine as a standalone if you haven’t read the other books in the series (the only one I have so far is Daisy and Cailean’s– Sinful Scottish Laird –and of course they’re the only couple who doesn’t show up in person here). You won’t know the family dynamics going in, but Aulay gives you all the information you need on that front anyway. More than half of the book has our hero and heroine out on the water, far removed from the rest of the Mackenzie clan, stewing over their problems and gradually falling for each other.
Favorite line (with mild spoiler, so skip if you must): “You are mad if you think I’ll never mention the two ships you sank”–just before kissing the aformentioned ship sinker. 🙂
Rating: 4 stars / A-
I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.
About Julia London:
Julia London is the New York Times and USA TODAY best-selling author of more than thirty romantic fiction novels. She is the author of the popular Cabot Sisters historical romance series, including The Trouble with Honor, The Devil Takes a Bride, and The Scoundrel and the Debutante. She is also the author of several contemporary romances, including Homecoming Ranch, Return to Homecoming Ranch and The Perfect Homecoming. She has over 100,000+ Facebook followers, is the recipient of the RT Book Reviews for Best Historical Romance and a six-time finalist for the prestigious RITA award for excellence in romantic fiction. You can visit her website JuliaLondon.com. She lives in Austin, Texas.
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