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Once Upon a Tartan
by Grace Burrowes
(Sourcebooks, $7.99, PG) ISBN 978-14022-6869-4
***
This is the second in the trilogy set in Scotland in Victorian times from Grace Burrowes, who this time gives us one romance with a lively niece being the emphasis and the reason the two lucky people meet.

Hester Daniels is in Scotland visiting her sister Mary Fran and her new husband because she has been disgraced…compromised and then crying off a wedding. She is relegated to being a nursemaid when it is decided that Mary Fran needs a wedding trip. Fiona, a lively young miss who is curious, full of chatter and very well versed in wrapping her uncles around her finger is the daughter of Mary Frances and an English soldier, who got her pregnant, married her and then promptly left.

He then was killed in Canada. Entering the scene is the Earl of Spathfoy, also known as Tiberius Flynn. Tye is the heir to his father’s title and has always been under his thumb. There is a lot of backstory as to why his family is the way it is, and it actually isn’t revealed until late in the story. Tye is in Scotland with the express duty of returning Fiona to her deceased father’s family as per his will. Of course, no one in Scotland is excited about this mission and in fact, Tye tries to keep it hidden.

But true love finds itself trying to convince Tye and Hester that they have something to savor. First they are wary, then friendly, then more than friendly, then reluctant due to their differences and finally they have to choose. All of these antics occur over a short period of time while Tye is staying at their home in an effort to allow Fiona to get comfortable with him so he can easily take her back to England. The story drags a bit at times. The story also brings back a few characters from the earlier novel. As I have not read that, these interludes were rather long and felt out of place with the rest of the story.

Hester is a good heroine, just one who is leery of getting back on the horse, so to say, and one who while she knows her own mind, had her confidence shaken to its core. Tye comes across as arrogant at times, but it soon becomes clear that he is gallant, a gentleman and well matched with Hester. Fiona is outlandish at times, but fun.

Overall, I enjoyed the story but felt it had a little too much thrown in about Tye’s parents just when the romance between Hester and Tye should have been heating up. There was some good romance, but it took the back seat near the end to tie up all of the loose ends, many of which I did not care about.

Once Upon a Tartan had its moments but it fizzled toward the end, leaving a barely satisfied feeling.

--Shirley Lyons


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