The Scot Beds His Wife by Kerrigan Byrne was my somewhat eagerly awaited book 5 of Victorian Rebels series. I really liked Gavin, the H’s character from one of the previous installments. Since then, I’ve been looking forward to his book. Unfortunately, it also turned out to be my least favorite book in the series. I’m extremely disappointed in the author’s direction with the story and the characterization of the H and the h. So much so, it took me quite a while to finish it.
The Victorian Rebels series is based on a few Victorian-era bad boys getting their HEAs with women who bring them down to their knees, quite literally. They are a diverse bunch, who’d do anything to survive and protect the ones they love. I was sold on the idea since book 1, The Highwayman that started it all. Kerrigan’s writing was pretty dark and she, throughout the story, took us to places I never thought I’d explore. I.e. book 2, The Hunter. Some really nauseating stuff that were happening, seeing the hero was an assassin. The description of it all weren’t always for the faint-hearted. Nevertheless, I found the stories thrilling and engaging with a few exceptions.
In The Highwayman, we meet Dorian Blackwell AKA Dougan McKenzie and his plight of life in a prison as a youngster. He’s one of the bastard sons of the cruel and lecherous Hamish MacKenzie, now-deceased Laird of MacKenzies. His darkness has seeped into every single one of his sons, doesn’t matter whether they’re legitimate or illegitimate. The only difference was Dougan/Dorian wanted to fight it for the love of his life, Farah. But, as he grew up seeing and experiencing stuff no youngster should, Dougan had already transformed into someone with a blackhole for a heart; with zero conscience to bother him about his deeds. He is called ‘The Black Heart of Ben More’; the reigning king of the underworld for a reason. It was a great beginning to this series that I absolutely enjoyed, though the author is yet to give us a story for Dougan’s ‘opposition’ for Farah’s affection, Inspector Carlton Morley. I dig that guy and hoping he’d finally get his own.
Book 2 and 3, The Hunter and The Highlander, kind of followed book 1. The Hunter is the story of Dorian’s best friend since prison, Christopher Argent, the aforementioned assassin. I really liked his story with a famous actress of that time. I’m sure it wasn’t an easy task to make a hero out of a ruthless killer but Kerrigan pulled it off quite masterfully. The Highlander veered more towards the McKenzie family. It’s the story of Liam McKenzie, the legitimate heir of the McKenzie kingdom, who is also Dorian’s half-brother. He didn’t even know Dorian existed until book 2, as their father was infamous for emptying his nastiness everywhere he went, never bothering with the repercussions. Liam also grew up in a disturbed household, as we find from the beginning of the book. There is a murder and Liam and his brothers were forced to witness it, no thanks to Hamish. His life afterwards was what can only be called hell-ish. He was forced to marry the wrong person, a woman his younger half-brother, Gavin St. James, loved. He’s Hamish’s son from his second marriage. Later, Liam finds love in Mena, a woman haunted by her own past and hunted by a cruel husband. I loved that Liam and Dorian are now united, their wives being friends, because Farah already knew Mena before she escaped to the Highlands to save herself.
Book 4, The Duke, wasn’t directly related to the McKenzie family but the hero was someone Liam knew. I wasn’t quite completely sold on it cause the H, Collin, wasn’t someone...likeable. I had a difficult time liking him throughout. I knew he was suffering from PTSD, still... On the other hand, the h, Imogen was literally an angel. Like there was nothing negative about her, and only she could suffer through Collin’s antics the way she had. I asked her ‘why’ a few times cause I got so frustrated him blowing hot and cold and treating her like sh!t. Long story short, not my favorite installment.
Even though the stories are standalones in this series, I’d suggest reading from the beginning cause there are interconnected incidents flowing through each storyline. Also the characters of the previous stories do make an appearance here and there. And even though I didn’t like every single installment, I always eagerly await the next installment. Despite everything, Kerrigan’s storylines or the hints she leaves for a future story always intrigues me. I simply wanna read on further and find out what’s happening next.
When I read book 3, where Gavin was first introduced, I liked him even if I don’t care for rakes all that much. Knowing his family, I knew that his suave demeanor and charming words were just a façade, which he maintains to hide away his pain. I had an idea of a heroine for him, but Samantha TBH wasn’t someone remotely on my mind. For one, she didn’t sound like a Victorian-era woman with her potty mouth and behavior. Even in this era, I’m not too crazy about people who can’t speak without throwing f-words all around. Too much of it is not ‘sexy’ IMO. *eyeroll*
Gavin was severely beaten by his father alongside his mother, then were thrown out of their home Ravencroft when he was young. All he did was to try to protect his mother Eleanor from Hamish’s abuse. He now has his own lands from Eleanor’s side of the family and a title, The Earl or Thorne too. He likes to differentiate himself from the Mckenzies since that fateful night. Even though he and Eleanor survived the beatings, she went blind. After Hamish’s death, Gavin had somewhat made up with Liam who has been ashamed of their father all his life. Liam was also repentant that he wasn’t here to protect Gavin and his step-mother as we see in the later chapters. However, no matter what, Gavin hadn’t forgiven Liam. Though he had worked with him in the McKenzie owned distilleries, he’d taunted Liam about various things. Liam looked way too much like Hamish for Gavin’s peace of mind. Another reason was Liam’s deceased wife, who was in a relationship with Gavin before she was forced to marry Liam. They had a brief affair while Liam was away fighting for the King and the Crown, establishing his own morbid title the Demon Highlander. When she committed suicide, things simply went downhill for the brothers.
Gavin had been living in his own estate for a long time. He’s also very protective of Eleanor who suffers from PTSD. You can say she’s the only woman, apart from his niece Liam’s daughter, that Gavin cares about. For the most part, Gavin is a known womanizer. His charm and extreme good-looks have gotten him many a warm, willing female body in and out of bed but Gavin hates himself because he knows that part of him has had to come from Hamish who also had a penchant for female flesh, willing or unwilling never mattered. But it helped him forgetting everything else that happened in his life. Apart from that, Gavin was very dedicated about two things— to make sure he’s known as a St. James, as Eleanor’s son, thus renouncing his heritage as a Mckenzie and to obtain the old farmhouse Erradale that was owned by one Mr. Ross a long time ago. That farm is pretty much abandoned since Mr. Ross and his wife have already passed away. Their only daughter, Alison, had been taken to America when she was very young. She’d never returned. Still, Alison keeps a tight leash on the lands of Erradale. There are two old farmers who take care of the dilapidated mansion and a few hundred cattle that Gavin plans to make his own.
And to make sure he has enough money to entice Alison, who has vowed not a single Mckenzie would ever get Erradale, Gavin has been involved in, uh, piracy. In the middle of the night, he and his closest of buddies Callum, whose father is Gavin’s head-groom Mr. Monahan, are seen making deals with a known pirate they called The Rook. Mr. Monahan was also the person who saved him and his mother that day and sheltered them in his own home. If ever there was a father figure for Gavin, it was Mr. Monahan, and he respects the man for all he had done for them. Callum is also now working with his father, though he has his own prospects and a backstory that’s vaguely alluded to. But to Gavin, Callum is his brother, ally and a confidante. Hence, he’s also helping Gavin realize his dream... well, yeah. LOL
Gavin had been irritated by Alison’s stance on Erradale cause he knew she’d never return here. He’d hate to see Erradale going downhill day by day. However, he also knew the reason why she hated the Mckenzies. It, again, came down to that SOB Hamish and his actions that ruined everything for his sons. Mr. Ross was killed in a duel with Hamish, the reason was revealed later in the story... Gavin is still hoping that Alison would forget the past, or try her best to forget it when he offers her the insane sum he’d planned for Erradale. One way or the other, he’d obtain this land because he can see it’s potentials. He’s ready to work hard and turn a hefty profit. That’s why when the news of Alison Ross’s very surprising imminent arrival is announced, though Gavin is slightly surprised, he’s also super excited to work on whatever it takes to acquire Erradale.
Samantha Masters had no life back in America. An orphan, she ran away with the youngest of Maters brothers when they were working in the farm she was also living in more like a servant. She needed to escape and Bennett provided it for her. In return, she married him. In a few days though, all her illusions about Bennett being the loving husband shattered. Masters brothers are nothing but fugitives and they did their best to make use of the only woman in their gang of 4. Now, if Samantha was a bit too womanly and pretty, you can only imagine what they would’ve done with her. However she was scrawny and small, hence not much womanly allure to her that even the nastiest of Masters brothers Boyd cared for, though he made enough threats so Samantha was forced to do their bidding.
The Masters brothers used to rob trains and Samantha would be there to provide one distraction or the other to make sure they got away with their loot. It was one of those seemingly ‘regular’ robberies for them that one day went horribly wrong. One thing led to another, and Samantha ended up killing Bennett, saving a beautiful lady’s life in return. The lady called Alison Ross had a plan for her on spot so she could get away. As the turn of events went for Samantha, she was supposed to be dead as the remaining Masters brothers were still hunting for her. But now, she has travelled all the way to the remote Scottish Highlands not only to save her life but also to pose as Alison Ross to stop Miss Ross’s beloved Erradale being grabbed by a opportunist Highlander living next to it. He was called Lord Gavin St. James.
Miss Ross was quite sure no one would recognize Samantha from an imposter since she’d never set foot in the Highlands after growing up. Out of gratitude, she’d even offered Samantha Erradale if she can keep Gavin St. James out of it. Would that Samantha could be perfectly sure that everything would go as planned. Because for her, the biggest problem of her scheme, was said tall and handsome Highlander whom she’d fallen in lust on spot. The man in question won’t let her be, turning up here and there, making her life... she has no idea whether hell or haven cause it goes both ways. Soon she knew she was in big trouble, but Samantha was determined to fight on to keep what she’d come to think of as her home.
As for Gavin, you can say the same. Samantha wasn’t the type of girl he was generally attracted to but in the course of time, to beat down her defenses with his own charm, he also found that he’s falling for her. Their chemistry, sadly, was not my thing. Well, I didn’t care for it or the persons in question from the moment they met each-other. As I mentioned earlier, Samantha’s coarse mannerism and potty mouth was a huge turn off. She didn’t sound like any Victorian-era woman, whereas Gavin, I found to be an idiot. I still am not sure exactly what he saw in her that attracted him to her but he soon became quite protective of her. When the Masters brothers tracked down Samantha and send men to kill her, Gavin went nuts to save her. And it wasn’t entirely for Erradale. The fool was already in love with her! :o Good Lord!! He offered her shelter in exchange of marriage, though he told himself it was a business deal. Dumba$$. -_-
Whereas I found Gavin to be dumb (too bad he was hot, just not my type of hot Scot), Samantha proved to be the clever party. Actually she surprised the hell out of me with her plans! Within a few weeks into her arrival at Erradale, Samantha figured out she’s pregnant with Bennett’s baby. Only she had no solid plan as to what to do when the baby becomes a reality. Gavin’s offer of marriage gave her the perfect opportunity to make certain her baby had an identity. Even though I didn’t like the way things were progressing, I’d have respected her more if she told Gavin the truth. I was hoping and praying she didn’t fool poor Gavin but she did. I could’ve even try to forgive her if she made the revelation just before their marriage and let Gavin decide, but Samantha wasn’t gonna do that. Oh no! So, in addition to the fact that she wasn’t, indeed, Alison Ross, something I might add that Gavin still didn’t know, she was going to fool him twice by withholding this prime bit of information!
And that, my dears, was the most off-putting thing in the story. The reason why I couldn’t like Samantha, even though the author tried to defend her in the end by giving us various reasons i.e. she wanted a home and a father for the baby. Umm, yeah, I get that too but, to me, what she was about to do was NOT DONE, no matter the circumstances. To think how happy Gavin was when he heard he was to be a father… *SMH* I still can’t see how he forgave her and remarried her to make their marriage legit. Oh wait, that dumba$$ was in love and love makes people... uh, blind? *eyeroll*
So, all in all, I didn’t like where the author went with this story; didn’t care for the main characters. If it wasn’t for the secondary characters, this book probably would’ve been a DNF. I absolutely adored the secondary romance between Gavin’s mother Eleanor and Callum’s father, Mr. Monahan. I wish, oh how I wish, I read more of that instead of this... joke. Moreover, I’m now super intrigued by Callum’s backstory. There’s a twist at the end of this one that has left me craving for more. Also, The Rook. OMG I *think* I now know who The Rook is and….. mind blown! I didn’t see that one coming for sure!! All those delicious twists!!! And I have to wait till August for The Rook’s book (or what I’m *hoping* it is). :( I don’t care what people think of the title, the little snippet at the end of this book sounded quite promising.
And that’s why people, I still keep returning to this series. Even if one or two installments don’t work for me, I know I can look forward to something else. Kerrgian makes sure I keep anticipating the release of the next one. 3 stars for The Scot Beds His Wife, barely made it.