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The Bridegroom Wore Plaid
by Grace Burrowes
(Sourcebooks, $7.99, PG-13) ISBN 978-1-40-226866-3
***
Grace Burrowes first foray into both Scotland and Victoriana, The Bridegroom Wore Plaid is a touching if not terribly impressive romance that centers around the soon-to-be-doomed earldom of Balfour.

Ian MacGregor barely has a farthing to his name and nothing to sell but his recently-acquired title (a sore subject in itself, since he had to have his brother declared dead to get it), so he puts himself on the market with the aid of his remaining two brothers, Gilgallon and Connor.

A baron is quick to bite, eager to make his daughter, Genie, a countess, and to rid himself of his spinster niece altogether. He arrives at the manor, which has become popular due to its proximity to Queen Victoria's beloved Balmoral, with said daughter and spinster in tow, as well as his widowed sister-in-law and younger daughter.

Unfortunately for the entire plan, Ian and Genie do not suit one another in the slightest; Ian develops a tender for the spinster, Augusta Merrick, while Genie plans to ruin herself with Ian's younger brother. It turns out that the bad baron has been up to all sorts of things that Burrowes hints around about but doesn't really address until the last quarter of the book, but which lend a bit of suspense to a novel that is otherwise over-full of romance: not only is there an unlikely match between the earl and the spinster as well as the heir and his brother's intended, but Ian's youngest brother, Connor, gets jumped by the merry widow, Julia Redmond, while the MacGregor sister hooks up with the baron's heir, Matthew.

Needless to say, Ian and Augusta take the forefront, but I feel that all four romances suffered greatly for being shoved into the same book. Two might have worked, but Mary Fran and Matthew are barely addressed, just mentioned as an occasional aside. All of the characters were deep and likeable, as is customary for a work by Grace Burrowes; it's just that few but Ian and Augusta had room to grow. In a regular, one-couple romance, that would have worked, but not with the focus rotating between at least three couples and glancing over a fourth.

The Bridegroom Wore Plaid, for its faults (and really, it's just the one fault, but it's kinda a doozy), is eminently readable and pretty fun. And, though it may not please fans of Burrowes Windham series, it will impress anyone with a taste for star-crossed lovers.

--Sarrah Knight


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