Monday, July 29, 2013

Book Review: How to Marry a Highlander by Katharine Ashe

Title: How to Marry a Highlander
Author: Katharine Ashe
Publisher: Avon (HarperCollins)
Release Date: July 30, 2013
Where to Buy:  Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBook
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

From the book:

An intrepid lady takes on an impossible task to win an irresistible lord.

With seven troublesome half sisters to marry off, Duncan, the Earl of Eads, has one problem: he’s broke.

With the prospect of marriage to the pompous local curate, Miss Teresa Finch-Freeworth has one dream: to wed instead the handsome Highlander she saw at a ball.
How does a desperate lady convince a reluctant laird that she’s the perfect bride for him? She strikes a wager! If she can find seven husbands for seven sisters, the earl must marry her.

Duncan has no intention of wedding the meddlesome maiden, and he gives her a deadline even the most audacious matchmaker can’t meet—one month. But Teresa sets terms, too: with each bridegroom she finds, the earl must pay her increasingly intimate rewards . . .

My review:

The third book in Ashe's Falcon Club series is an historical romance novella that opens with Teresa doing something absolutely scandalous for her time period: She propositions a Scottish earl for his hand in marriage. When he declines her, she strikes a deal with him: if she finds husbands for all his sisters, he'll marry her. Teresa is worried she'll be betrothed to her town's curate, a dull and stiff man who seems determined to suck the life out of her. I was absolutely reminded of Mr. Collins from Pride & Prejudice - he fits a very specific character type, and Ashe employs this character well - he doesn't overpower the story or drag it down, but gives a slight sense of urgency to it.  Teresa, being very close to "unmarriageable age," has a very limited time to fulfill the wager and find seven husbands in order to land her own. 

Duncan is honorable in that he wants his sisters happy, and allows them a lot of freedom in their speech and actions (for the time period of the novel). I'm all for the strong older brother who allows his sisters to run roughshod over him, but it was a little out of my suspension of belief that these women would be presented in the ton society as they were portrayed. Again I was reminded of P&P when the two elder sisters were lovely and well-mannered, with the youngest being taciturn and a constant grouch - effective technique that made for some fun banter and a show of sisterly love. The only complaint I have with Duncan is the constant written accent - it's hard to read, and pulled me from the story a lot. I accepted he was from Scotland and scandalized by the secondary characters' reactions to his name; the accent was, in my opinion, overkill.

That being said, the story has a very nice overall arc; Teresa and Duncan's story is well-paced and the pair has some delightful reactions to each other. Teresa is confident in social situations that she's been trained for, but when she's alone with Duncan, she's clearly unsure and a bit lost. It's a great play off each other and actually countered the disbelief I held about Duncan and his sisters - Teresa is a woman I could envision living in 1800s England, and I really liked her. I wish she had a full novel - she was that wonderful.

This was a quick read with some great dialogue and with a story idea (wager on seven successful marriages) that I haven't before read. I loved Ashe's voice and writing style, and although think the characters are a bit too reminiscent of a Jane Austen novel, I've added her to my TBR (to be read) pile. The arc was flawless, the pacing was perfect, and some of the characters stayed with me well past the final page. 

About the Author
In 2012 Amazon chose Katharine’s How To Be a Proper Lady as one of the Ten Best Romances of the Year. Upon the publication of her debut in 2010, the American Library Association named Katharine among its “New Stars of Historical Romance”. She is a two-time nominee and 2011 winner of the Reviewers’ Choice Awards for Best Historical Romantic Adventure, and her novella A Lady’s Wish launched HarperCollins Publishers’ Avon Impulse imprint in 2011. Her books have been recommended by Woman’s World Magazine, Booklist, Library Journal, Barnes & Noble, the San Francisco & Sacramento Book Review, Durham County Libraries, and the Library of Virginia. 

Katharine lives in the wonderfully warm Southeast with her husband, son, dog, and a garden she likes to call romantic rather than unkempt. A professor of European history, she has made her home in California, Italy, France, and the northern US. She adores hearing from readers.

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