One Night In Scotland
by Karen Hawkins, historical (2010)
Pocket, $7.99, ISBN 978-1-4391-7589-7

One Night In Scotland is what I would get if I, say, treat the plot as used chewing gum, stick one end to a wall, and then walk behind to stretch the gum into a string all the way until the string snaps.

We have the Hurst family who is hunting all over the place for a missing heirloom, the Hurst Amulet. Our heroine Mary's brother Michael went all the way to Egypt to look for that thing, and now he's held captive by the local sufi. The sufi won't release him until he gives that sufi a mysterious artifact that Michael had previously sold to the Earl of Erroll, Angus Hay. Mary sets out to Angus's place, where she then becomes his reluctant guest in the castle as he summons some guy, Young, who can positively identify Mary as Michael's brother.

Young shows up only on page 309.

In the meantime, this is a standard Heroine In A Big Castle story, with the hero doing all kinds of eye-rolling stupid and petty things to her, which is fine, because the heroine understands his nonsense. He had lost his wife some time ago, and now, of course, he will die if he loves again. The same old song, really, and Angus even favors the standard emo uniform of all black to drive home the fact that he is a boring cliché. In the meantime, there will be angry kisses, the heroine acting feisty and stomping her foot, the hero being charmed by her unwillingness to be "tamed", et cetera. Put in some "accidents", and I get a formulaic story with very little plot but plenty of foolishness.

For example, nobody knows of Mary being Michael's sister. Mary didn't bring any proper identification with her, and every time Angus believes a bit that she may be telling him the truth, he immediately finds some stupid reason to squash that doubt in his head. She's a scheming liar! He knows it! At the very end, he tells himself that he knows in his heart for a long time now that Mary is telling the truth, so I guess he doesn't mind playing with his so-called friend Michael's life while he runs around playing out his one-man big emo circus of selfish self-absorption. Don't let him be misunderstood, he's just a poor sad overgrown man-child in black, et cetera - Angus Hay is a walking Adam Lambert CD.

So for a very long time, this is a story of Mary pouting and mouthing off and coming up with all kinds of "feisty" antics while Angus only broods, wags his finger at her, and paws her everywhere when he is overcome by lust. Repeat and rinse for over 200 pages - can you feel my love for this couple?

The climax of the story is only the nail in the coffin where I am concerned. If the guy on the cover is the hero, I can only imagine that he'd been teased mercilessly in his childhood about his deformed tiny nipple, which is why he behaved the way he did. I can only speculate on the heroine's damage, however, to explain her charming decision to run off - alone - when a storm is fast approaching. Still, the developments in this part of the story, no matter how dumb they can be, are also tired and clichéd turn of events present in stories of this sort.

In other words, One Night In Scotland has only one running gag stretched thin over 200 pages, with the author using some very overused tropes in a most uninspired and clichéd manner in some futile attempt to liven things up. This one may make the cut if it was a short story, but as a full-length novel, it is a waste of my time and money.

Rating: 47

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