The Taming of a Scottish Princess by Karen Hawkins (Hurst Amulet #4)
May 22, 2012
Reviewed by May
Jane’s brown eyes shimmered with mockery as she met his gaze. “I’m so disappointed not to meet the duke, but you know how it is.”
“Saucy, foul wench.”
“Please!” Mary interjected. “Both of you!”
Michael kept his gaze locked on Jane. “Admit it; you have no more wish to talk to that fop than I.”
“Oh, no,” she returned gravely. “It’s my dearest wish, especially as you’ll be answering questions about how many crocodiles you’ve wrestled.”
Jane Smythe-Haughton has worked for the famed Egyptologist Michael Hurst for the last four years as his assistant. They work together splendidly as a team, and have traveled the globe together. She has never missed a step until now – when their latest expedition is taking them to Barra – the island off the coast of Scotland that is in fact Jane’s birth place.
Jane is in fact Jennet MacNeil, a princess of sorts, and her history with a small island off the coast of Scotland is a long one. Fate has her venturing back to the home she never expected to see again with her employer, seeking a lost amulet that was stolen from his family well before he was ever born.
From the beginning I loved reading this book. Michael is so no-nonsense, so focused on goals and practicality and not society rules or niceties – it made him a lot of fun to read as well as a great match for Jane. I love the opening scene where he’s waiting at a ball with his sister, and expecting Jane to appear at any moment (which she does, in one of her practical grey dresses and boots). When he spots her, he whistles for her. His sister is horrified, he explains he’s just being practical and that Jane won’t mind, and the book is off to an awesome start.
“Jane is my assistant and nothing more. When you meet her, you’ll understand.”
“Oh. Is she very plain?”
“I don’t know. She’s just… Jane.” If he’d been asked to describe her, he probably would have said that she was small, quick, brown, and rather wrenlike. But it was one thing to describe Jane’s physicality and yet another to explain her presence. She always seemed bigger than her size, more visible than other women, and infinitely more capable. “I can’t describe her, but you’ll see how she is when you meet her.”
While Michael might be just discovering his attraction to Jane as our book begins, she’s been attracted to him from day 1. She buries her interest, doesn’t act upon it or anything. I found their discovery of a mutual attraction, as well as their romance to be a lovely one. Well lovely might be the wrong word! Neither one is shy about speaking their mind or letting the other one know just what they think. Their verbal sparring was a lot of fun to follow.
She crossed her arms and stared straight ahead. “Barbarian.”
“Overmuscled Viking spawn.”
Ah ha! She gave him a superior smile. “I like being called a bluestocking.”
The book spans the travel to Scotland (from London), their growing romance, and the adventure on the Isle of Barra. I found myself laughing, smiling, and generally enjoying the whole reading experience. The issues with Jane’s family and heritage didn’t do anything for me, nor was I terribly interested in the outcome of all that. I wish that this book had just a little more action or emotional depth to it – something meatier to sink my teeth into. I never got emotionally invested, nor did the sense of wonder and adventure never quite reached a place I’d call exciting. I think because the characters know each other quite well it made room for something other or more to be brought in. Whether more of an action plot, more twists, or just more depth to the characters- there was something not quite perfect about this book.
I acknowledge that I’m being picky, but when I’m reading a book for review these are exactly the kinds of things I have to make note of – even if they don’t take away much from my reading experience. I truly did enjoy this book. It is a credit to the author that the book remained as fun and interesting as it did – the dialogue and vivid characters really kept me tuned in and flipping pages as fast as I could.
Aside from wishing this book had gotten deeper into these characters heads or offered a more exciting adventure, I also questioned some historical aspects. Jane travels with (and often sleeps in the same tent as) Michael, yet there are no mentions of propriety or her reputation. This is the first book I’ve experienced that does not even think twice about an unmarried female traveling with a bachelor in this way. I also picked up on (what I believe was) an Indiana Jones nod/reference late in the book about snakes. As Indiana Jones is both fictional and a character from another century, this bothered me enough to mention it here.
Oh but I did enjoy my time with this book, enough so that I kept reading passages while writing this review. The story was a fun, light read filled with fantastic characters. I strongly recommend this book for some good times.
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Maria D. says
Good review! Thanks for sharing…I’m really looking forward to reading this book.
I have Hawkins’ FROM SCOTLAND WITH LOVE on my shelf – it sounds like she’s a really enjoyable historical author. I’ll have to pick it up (or maybe buy the first in this series!) soon. I get what you mean, though, about ratings – oftentimes there’s that one aspect or feeling that just prevents the book from being perfect, even if you really do love reading it.
ha the cover is adorable! it sounds like it’s well-matched with the characters too. i wonder how the princess aspect ties in with the story.
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