Review: To Tempt a Scotsman by Victoria Dahl

I'm steadily working my way through Victoria Dahl's backlist. So far, I have not been disappointed. To Tempt A Scotsman is incredibly moving with rich, complex characters and a plot that surprised me. Dahl fits a lot into this slender novel.

In a somewhat unusual decision, the author sets this story in the aftermath of a duel. One participant is dead. The other has fled the country. The half-brother of the deceased duelist has come seeking answers from the woman at the heart of the conflict. Expecting to find a harlot, Collin is stunned  to find a young, attractive woman who is clearly another victim of the tragedy--not an instigator.

Of all of the obstacles keeping would-be lovers apart in the romance genre, this one seems particularly formidable. What I found most compelling was the fact that the obstacles are multi-layered. There is the obvious metaphorical ghost of the dead brother. There is a status difference. There is a trust issue. All of which are interwoven throughout the story to make you wonder how there could possibly be a happily ever after for this particular couple.

I really liked Alexandra, our heroine. She spends most of the book in a state of confusion. Not because she's scatterbrained. But because she genuinely needs to work through her feelings about herself, the hero, her family, society. I also like that she's gone on with her life, running her brother's estate, rather than whining about how life was unfair. And that she finds the life she has rewarding even if it's lonely.

While this one wasn't as well crafted as Dahl's most recent work, it was still incredibly moving. The hero and heroine are realistic and believable. I did find the villain to be a little stereotypical and two dimensional, but we don't really see him that much. Many of the secondary characters could have benefited from a few more pages. I would have liked to see a bit more of Alex's brother. He was a terrific secondary character, but is absent from much of the beginning of the novel.

My Grade: B

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