Where There’s a Kilt, There’s a Way by Ella Stainton
Kilty Pleasures #2
March 23, 2021 by Carina Press
Reviewed by Kate
Where There’s a Kilt, There’s a Way was not what I was expecting at all, based on the description and being labeled as a romance. It was disappointing to me as a reader, but I think that if you know what you’re getting into, it could be an enjoyable reading experience.
If it isn’t a romance, what kind of book is Where There’s a Kilt, There’s a Way? This is a question that I’m not sure the book knows how to answer. If I had to classify it, I would call it a historical murder mystery with paranormal elements. Where There’s a Kilt starts two years after Joachim and Ainsley have settled down in Scotland together at the end of Best Laid Plaids. They’ve both accepted summer jobs in Sweden and managed to pick up a meddling ghost of a murdered Swedish man on their way there. Upon arrival in Sweden, Ainsley departs on a teaching and research trip whereas Joachim’s teaching keeps him near the university. Separately, they both get wrapped up in the unsolved murder, though from different angles. With the exception of a quick scene in the middle, Joachim and Ainsley remain apart for the majority of the book. As each chapter is told from an alternating perspective, the reader does know what is happening to each man, but romance readers want to see the characters engaging on page together.
I acknowledge that romance series that follows a single couple over multiple books are tricky. Usually, this is balanced by continuing the romance arc throughout each book. However, Joachim and Ainsley had their happily ever after in Best Laid Plaids, so their relationship is not the main arc in Where’s There’s a Kilt. I’ve also read series where the main couple persists for multiple books, and if their romantic arc is no longer the center of the plot, they’re at least solving crimes or killing vampires or some-such activity together. And, as I mentioned, that on-page time is lacking in this book. Needless to say, much of my disappointment stemmed from the fact that I didn’t read Where There’s a Kilt for a main course of mystery involving ghost moose and shipping magnates (with a tiny side helping of relationship drama), but that is what I got.
My other quibble is that this book has so many coincidences you could almost imagine that the population of Sweden in 1930 is about 50 people. There seems to be no other way the characters would magically run into the specific people they need to in order to further the mystery plotline.
I don’t recommend reading Where There’s a Kilt, There’s a Way, without reading Best Laid Plaids first, because there is so much just dropped in without any explanation in this second book in the series that I do not believe it will be enjoyable without the backstory. But if you’ve read Best Laid Plaids, or have an interest in books that aren’t your typical romance setup, (since it’s a paranormal romance set in 1928 Scotland, and the sequel is set in 1930 Sweden) I would recommend trying out the Kilty Pleasures series.