A Borrowed Scot
by Karen Ranney, historical (2011)
Avon, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-06-177188-0

A Borrowed Scot is in many ways similar a familiar type of book from Karen Ranney - it's more about character development and exploration of finer feelings. The pacing can be slow, but if you enjoy the way the relationship unfurls in the story, the pacing doesn't really matter as it's all about the build up to that moment when the characters finally realize that they love each other. All that is here, but I personally feel that this book is one of the less interesting ones from Ms Ranney.

First, the plot. It's a simple one. Veronica MacLeod is a psychic who can read other people's emotions, and she struggles to find acceptance even as her gift alienates the family that take her in after the death of her parents. One day, she decides to attend a meeting of a supposedly intellectual group keen on exploring paranormal phenomena, only to end up drugged and offered as the main course of that evening. Under the same mistaken impression that he's attending a meeting about paranormal phenomena, our hero Montgomery Fairfax arrives only to end up starting a fight and rescuing Veronica. Her first words to him include, naturally, she didn't ask to be rescued. I've just read another book where the heroine said exactly the same thing to the hero after being rescued from a somewhat similar predicament. Is there some kind of handbook for romance authors where they learn how to fashion the behavior of their heroes and heroines?

At any rate, Veronica was found to be missing from her home and Montgomery finds himself forced to marry Veronica to save her good name. He resents this, of course, and he is too gentlemanly to be anything but passive-aggressive about this. So yes, this story is about Veronica and Montgomery trying to make lemonades out of the lemons life hands them. There is a suspense plot in here, but on the whole, this story is more about figuring out Montgomery and getting Veronica to make him sing happy songs about love and life. Oh, and because she's Scots and he's American, expect some "English people are so icky" undercurrents in this story. With two Sexy Oppressed Factions represented in this story, the poor English have no chance to begin with.

For me, I find myself curiously disengaged from the story. I believe a big part of this is caused by Veronica's gift. Now that she can peg every emotion that Montgomery is feeling, there is no suspense in the relationship at all. Every time Montgomery is an ass to her, she'd go, oh, he's just upset, conflicted, or tormented by a ghost named Caroline. After a while, it's like following a therapy session conducted by Counselor Deanna Troi, reinforcing the fact that romance heroes are never assholes, just tormented woobies. Montgomery's background makes him a potentially far more interesting character compared to Veronica's rather familiar Psychic Waif Who Became Her Own Woman After She Is Rescued By The Hero character profile, but he spends a long time being a rather obvious case study for Veronica Troi's thesis about woobies.

Ultimately, I feel that Ms Ranney had done a similar type of story far better in the past, and with far less heavy-handed "Oh! You are grieving! You are hurt!" yammering to underscore the emotional undercurrents between the hero and the heroine. A Borrowed Scot is technically a readable story, but I've read better from the author. This one is a tad dull in comparison.

Rating: 69

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