27 March 2014

Moonlight on My Mind (Second Sons #3)

Summary from Goodreads:

To ruin a man’s life once takes a regrettable mistake.

To do so twice takes a woman like Julianne Baxter.

Eleven months ago, Julianne’s statement to the authorities wrongly implicated Patrick, the new Earl of Haversham, in his older brother’s death. The chit is as much trouble as her red hair suggests, and just as captivating. Now she has impetuously tracked him to the wilds of Scotland, insisting that he return home to face a murder charge and save his family from ruin. A clandestine wedding may be the only way to save her reputation—and his neck from the hangman’s noose.

Julianne has no objection to the match. More and more she’s convinced of Patrick’s innocence, though when it comes to igniting her passions, the man is all too guilty. And if they can only clear his name, a marriage made in haste could bring about the most extraordinary pleasure…

[Note: I also reviewed the first two books in the series, What Happens in Scotland, and Summer is For Lovers, for BR but those weren't saved.]

With James and David married Patrck, the last of three friends, all second sons to peers, is about to tie the knot. He would be quite happy to stay in Moraig as the town's resident veterinarian. Except the bane of his life, Julianne Baxter, shows up sight-unseen and unaccompanied bearing the worst possible news - his father has died, making him the new Earl of Haversham, and the authorities seem bent on arresting him for the murder of his elder brother. To complicate matters, Julianne was seen alone in his house, undressed down to her corset (not Patrick's fault), by the town vicar. There is only one solution: marry Julianne to save her reputation before making the journey to the family estate. Given that Julianne was the one who first raised the possibility that Patrick might have killed his brother, marrying Julianne prevents her from testifying against him (James's idea).

This sets in motion a very convoluted plot involving mistaken identities, quasi-legal proceedings, secrets, and horrible relatives. It was very hard for me to buy the insta-love story given the way it was set up - they danced once and shared a kiss the night before all hell broke loose. It didn't flow smoothly from the elements of the book. (In the book's defense, I got access to the advance for Eloisa James's Three Weeks With Lady X when I was about halfway through Moonlight on My Mind - the James was read cover to cover immediately, twice, so coming back to the McQuiston felt like a step down, unfortunately.) Moonlight on My Mind didn't share the lightness of tone that was present in What Happens in Scotland and Summer is for Lovers. This was a book with far more serious consequences. The series as a whole had a good arc and I'd like to see more from Jennifer McQuiston in the future.

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