Highland Knaves Series: Book 1, Secrets to Seducing a Scot

Author: Michelle Marcos

Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks

Release Date: August 2011

Blue Ribbon Rating: 4.5


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It's the height of the season when Serena Marsh, prominent socialite and celebrated author of the "Rage Page" – a column that offers the latest Ton gossip – is compelled to accompany her father on a diplomatic mission to the Scottish Highlands.  Scotland is on the brink of rebellion and her father is tasked with quelling the growing hostilities.  As much as Serena loves her father, her world is torn asunder.  What can she possibly find worth writing about in the Highlands?

Malcolm Slayter is a scarred man – in more ways than one.  After his family is judged as traitors by their Scottish neighbors, Malcolm witnesses untold horrors – the murder of his parents and brothers, the mutilation and kidnapping of his siblings into slavery, while he, himself, is left for dead.  That he survived at all is a testament to his strength.  But the betrayal of his countrymen ensures his loyalties belong to him and him alone.  And if he chooses to lend them to the highest bidder, be they English or Scottish, so be it.
The longer the negotiations between the English and Scottish linger at an impasse, the more threats are made towards Serena's life.  She's been targeted as a bargaining piece by the rebels, forcing her father to hire Malcolm as her protector.  If Serena thought leaving London was traumatic, it's nothing compared to having an abrasive, propriety be damned, handsome Highlander trailing after her 24/7.   As tensions soar in the political arena, so does the sexual tension between Serena and Malcolm.  And in a world teetering on the brink of chaos, it would take real lunatics to even attempt to forge a romance.
SECRETS TO SEDUCING A SCOT is a wonderful breath of fresh air in the highly saturated world of sexy Highlander historical romance.  Michelle Marcos most definitely knows her craft, her talent ultimately shining through her characters' inner metal, charisma, and heartfelt journeys.  A winning read from start to finish!
The first installment of the HIGHLAND KNAVES series introduces readers to the betrayal and hopeful redemption of Malcolm Slayter, a "slaighteur".  A man disowned from his own clan and forever disavowed by all others.  To be branded a slaighteur is dreadful enough, but to be wrongfully branded is just plain tragic.  And with Malcolm's past both shaping and defining him, he's quickly become one of my favorite dark heroes.  His sinister broodiness is irresistibly charming.  And his ribald humor is gauche, in an erotically-charged, sexy way.  The scenes when his one-track mind, which is usually focused on Serena's safety, veers into the hilariously dirty and sexy lanes, are some of my favorite.  
That Serena is a spoiled brat, despite her incredible intelligence, doesn't make her the obvious choice for Malcolm.  She's incredibly haughty and is in dire need of a wake-up call to the real world – that is, the world beyond class-consciousness and socially rigidity.  But Serena undergoes her own redemption when her heart acknowledges one of life's most earnest truths – love is the most important thing a person can surrender to, irrespective of social standing or wealth.  That she ultimately takes the lesson to heart makes me love her.
Malcolm and Serena, when looked at independently, make for a peculiar pairing.  But never does it feel awkward.  Their lightning quick wit makes them perfect mates.  And their interactions are both erotic and sensual, or laugh out loud comical.  Together, Malcolm and Serena push each other to the brink – whether it's to the point of hair pulling frustration or to strive to be better than they are, it doesn't matter.  It's their journey that is most rewarding.
One last thing I absolutely loved – the harassing, ingenious, extremely sharp Scottish quips that leave you in admiration of its crippling wisdom and smiling at the truthful simplicity of it.  You don't have to be of the aristocracy to have such perception.  And in the case of the Scottish, more often than not, those bits of wisdom can come from anywhere.  
SECRETS TO SEDUCING A SCOT has rocked my world, and I anxiously await the next book, LESSONS IN LOVING A LAIRD, coming in February 2012.  It's based on Malcolm's sister, Shona, and I can't wait until her secret is revealed to Malcolm!

By Romance Junkies Reviewer: Chris

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