I have mixed feelings on this book. There were things I really liked about it. The primary romance was well done. I liked the hero and the heroine. And though the progression of their love story was predictable, I really enjoyed watching them fall in love. However, there are too many subplots that are not fleshed out --side stories with great potential-- that left me feeling like I missed things and confused at times.
At the center of the story is Ian, the presumptive heir to a Scottish title. He is a wonderful laird who faces financial straights. As so many others did before him, he decides he must marry a woman with a large dowry to secure the future of his people. It appears that woman will be Genie Daniels, a well-dowered English woman who comes to his land with her family to make a titled match. No one has any illusions about what the marriage would be: Ian gets the money he needs and Genie gets the title her family wants. Only, it's not quite so simple.
Genie has no desire to marry Ian. Her horrible father is forcing her. But her cousin Augusta sees in Ian all the wonderful things Genie can't. He is handsome, smart, and loyal. Augusta and Ian strike up a friendship that quickly makes way to something more, despite the fact that they both realize they can have no future together. It's bittersweet as they fall deeply in love, seeing no chance at long lasting happiness.
In the meantime, Genie is setting her sights on Ian's brother Gil. Her brother is falling for Ian's sister. And even the chaperone, Julia, is getting action with brother number three, Connor. Generally, I love some good secondary romances, and all of these could have held up their own stories, but it wasn't done that way. We would jump in and out of these pairings without witnessing key events in their development. We hear about things that had happened off page, and I often found myself flipping back in the book to make sure I hadn't missed entire scenes that were being referenced. This happened several times and left me feeling off balance and annoyed. (Especially since some the events sound like they would have been very entertaining to read.)
While all of this matchmaking is going on, there is also danger afoot. Augusta's horrible uncle is trying to kill her. It's not explicitly stated why from the beginning, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure it out. He was really more of a caricature of a villain than one you could really sink your teeth into.
But despite my complaints, I really did enjoy Augusta and Ian's romance. I felt like I knew and understood them both. They were easy to root for and they stirred my emotions. The sexual tension was hot. The sex was good. And the ending satisfied.
Rating: C+*ARC Provided by Sourcebooks via NetGalley