Susana and the Scot by Sabrina York

This RITA® Reader Challenge 2017 review was written by Robin R. This story was nominated for the RITA® in the Long Historical category.

The summary:

Scotland, 1813.

Andrew Lochlannach is famous for his conquests, on and off the battlefield. When a fellow warrior challenges him to a kissing contest, he wastes no time in planting his lips on ninety-nine lovely lasses-an impressive feat of seduction that gets him banished to the hinterlands. Still, Andrew has no regrets about his exploits-especially his embrace with the most beguiling woman he’s ever met…

With flaming red hair and a temper to match, Susana is not some innocent farmgirl who gives herself over easily to a man, even one as ruggedly handsome as Andrew. The wicked Scot may have won a kiss from the headstrong beauty in a moment of mutual desire, but Susana refuses to be just another one of his conquests. Andrew must convince the fiery lass that even though he is not playing a game, losing her is not an option…

Here is Robin R.’s review:

In this second book of the Untamed Highlander series, Andrew Lochlannach gets sent by his brother to help protect the lands that Susana, Andrew’s brother’s sister-in-law, has been in charge of defending for her aging father. In a huge coincidence that can be easily forgiven in romance-land, Susana and Andrew fell in love in Perth six years ago, were broken up by a deceitful friend, and still haven’t gotten over each other. In an excellent first encounter scene that sets up their rivalry and resentment for the first part of the book, she recognizes him, but he doesn’t recognize her because she used her middle name in Perth and he thinks she’s dead (bit of a stretch, but we will go with it). There’s a very entertaining battle of wills, an archery competition, a lot of steamy, detailed sex, and a kidnapping.

A little cover snark: I doona know who the pretty people are on the cover, but they aren’t Andrew and Susana. The dude on the cover is wearing a kilt. There is nary a kilt mentioned in the book. Everyone is wearing breeks, even Susana in the first scene. Don’t promise kilts unless you deliver kilts, publishers! Also, Andrew’s unique silver-blond tresses are a major paternity plot point and the hunk in the kilt has dark blond hair. The lady in the cover has skinny, pale forearms and is barely wearing a red satiny gown, whereas Susana is an archery champion who manages her father’s lands and tracks down cattle thieves.

Also, the kissing contest heavily mentioned on the back of the book and in summaries is a clever hook, but feels like it has been just tacked-on to the beginning and not terribly relevant to the rest of the story (although I haven’t read the first book in the series, so if it is providing continuity from that, I retract my statement and stand corrected). This solid, fast-paced historical would have had more appeal for me if it had been allowed to shine as itself, instead of feeling wrapped in the trappings of a different book.

The Scottish Highland setting is a pretty backdrop, but I wanted more details about Susana managing her father’s lands – the book would have been much stronger with more about how their society works and if it had shown us how smart and capable Susana is. She is admirably strong and fierce: I love how she is a single mom with a ton of responsibilities instead of a simpering miss, but we never get a good sense of why, for example, her last prospective suitor “limped away with an arrow in his arse.” When you have a character who has broken so strongly out of their expected role and demeanor in society, it warrants a more substantial explanation. Was it the assumed betrayal in Perth? Was it growing up without a mother? Was it to protect her sisters? Show us, please!

Andrew is less remarkable than Susana, but more grounded in his story. We know why he is extremely loyal to his brother and there is a good reason he is a big flirt who never gets entangled. Susana’s precocious five-year-old daughter Isobel (do the math!) is an aggravating, but captivating character and, in addition to being a handy plot device, Andrew getting to know her and understanding how to relate to her is one of the most compelling parts of the book.

After the relationships are built, they are then tested as the conflicts with neighbors come to a head, followed closely by everything getting nicely sorted out into an HEA. One sour note, though…

ending the book with a blowjob scene felt crass and unsatisfying and had a tinge of shrew-taming to it.

Overall, this was an enjoyable read with an exciting plot and the sparks really flew between the two main characters.

Susana and the Scot by Sabrina York received a B- in a previous RITA Reader Challenge Review.

This book is available from:
Susana and the Scot by Sabrina York

December 29, 2015

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