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Review: A Scot in the Dark by Sarah MacLean

by Sarah MacLean
Series: Scandal & Scoundrel #2
Genres: Historical Romance
Publisher: Avon Books
Publication Date: August 30th 2016
Source: ARC received for review
Rating: ★★★1/2
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Lonesome Lily Turned Scandalous Siren

Miss Lillian Hargrove has lived much of her life alone in a gilded cage, longing for love and companionship. When an artist offers her pretty promises and begs her to pose for a scandalous portrait, Lily doesn't hesitate...until the lying libertine leaves her in disgrace. With the painting now public, Lily has no choice but to turn to the one man who might save her from ruin.

Highland Devil turned Halfhearted Duke

The Duke of Warnick loathes all things English, none more so than the aristocracy. It does not matter that the imposing Scotsman has inherited one of the most venerable dukedoms in Britain—he wants nothing to do with it, especially when he discovers that the unwanted title comes with a troublesome ward, one who is far too old and far too beautiful to be his problem.

Tartan Comes to Town

Warnick arrives in London with a single goal: get the chit married and see her become someone else's problem, then return to a normal, quiet life in Scotland. It's the perfect plan, until Lily declares she'll only marry for love...and the Scot finds that there is one thing in England he likes far too much...

Sarah MacLean is one of my favorite historical romance authors. She is so talented and I love that her books are emotional, steamy and hit me right in the feels. I was especially a big fan of the first book in this series, A Rogue Not Taken, so when I received a copy of A Scot in the Dark, I may have jumped in excitement. With A Scot in the Dark, Sarah MacLean uses her trademark passionate writing and combines it with some relevant modern-day feminist issues to craft a historical romance that's entertaining and thought-provoking.

One thing I always love about Sarah MacLean's books is how much attention and care she gives into fleshing-out her characters. In A Scot in the Dark, I immediately connected with Lilian's voice. She was relatable and easy to understand. She was a strong and fiesty character, but even more so, I loved the vulnerabilities and fears that she had. Her desire to be loved, to escape her loneliness, and to find happiness was something that I think many readers will identify with. Even though Lily is in the middle of a scandal that would ruin her for good with her nude painting being exhibited to the world, she still put on a brave face for society and didn't allow them to crush her. I loved this resilence that she portrayed throughout the book and it made me want to root for her and for her to find a way to destroy the artist who drew her nude.

I wanted nothing more for Lily to find a man who would love and appreciate her for who she was. She finds that in Alec, sexy and vulnerable Scot. Alec's inner thoughts almost destroyed him. All his life he has been led to believe that he was only good at bedding women and not deserving of love. It was so heartbreaking watching as he actually started to believe what he had grown up hearing. Despite having experienced nothing but callousness in his life though, he was a loyal, considerate and a genuinely good man. Even though he wants nothing to do with Lily, he finds himself opening up to her and showing her just how worthy she is.

Another writing element Sarah MacLean is amazing at is romances that make you sigh in happiness and swoon over the passion. Lily and Alec had chemistry that threatened to set my e-reader on fire. They started off on an antagonistic note, especially because Alec wants to force Lily to get married so that she can escape her scandal and she doesn't want to be forced into any marriage without falling in love first. They bicker, argue, snip at each other, but underneath all that hostility was a lot of desire for each other. When they opened up emotionally to each other, it was amazing! I'll admit that there were times when Alec's "I'm not good enough of her" thoughts were frustrating, but I also understood where he was coming from.

Sarah MacLean has mentioned in the past that her inspiration for writing about the nude picture scandal came from the celebrity hack a couple of years ago. I thought she dealt with it in a historical setting really beautifully. You get to see the impacts that this has on Lily emotionally and mentally. I was a bit disappointed with how the artist got away so easily with it, but I understand that it was realistic, especially considering the times this book was set in. MacLean's writing was as wonderful here as it was with her other books, but I didn't find myself breezing through this book as did her others. I felt like there was a spark missing and I can't pinpoint what exactly it is.

Though not my favorite book by MacLean, A Scot in the Dark was still a thoroughly enjoyable book. This author continues to impress me with just how talented she is and I can't wait to read more from the Scandal & Scoundrel series.

What are some historical romances with modern day inspirations you've read?
Let me know in the comments below!