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Whiskey in the Jar Romance

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Guest Reviewer at:  Reading Between the Wines book club

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"She thought it over, but couldn’t see any immediate loopholes other than the threat of her inner slut emerging, and she could darned well control that little bitch."— Susan Elizabeth Phillips

The Trouble with Dukes by Grace Burrowes

The Trouble with Dukes (Windham Brides) - Grace Burrowes

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Megan Windham has a powerful family full of nobility but they might not be able to save her from an indiscretion in her youth.
Hamish MacHugh is a former colonel who is now a duke and just wishing he could be back in Scotland.
When they meet there is an instant connection but a sly villain and observing the "niceties" of the times are conspiring to keep them apart.
 
The Trouble with Dukes is first in the Windham Brides series and can be read as a standalone. However, if you're a frequent reader of Burrowes' stories, you're going to get a lot more out of this one and love it even more. Characters from the Windham and heroes from the Duke's Obsession series are very prominent throughout. Not having read a lot of the books they were stars in, I found they didn't add a lot to our main couple's relationship so much as fill out the setting and world Burrowes has created. There are a couple that I'm dying to read their stories; Devlin St. Just , who I first met in the Captive Hearts series and instantly was drawn to. They weren't as overwhelming as I've sometimes found in other stories but they do take up time and space from our main couple.
 
Nobody smiled at Megan Windham the way Murdoch was smiling. Even without her glasses, she could see the warmth and approval in his eyes, see all the acceptance and admiration a woman could endure from one man.
 
I loved our heroine Megan, her hurt and anger over her folly as a youth, her passion, and her quiet strength. She definitely gets handicapped by the time period she is living in but her personality in the face of it all, shines even brighter. Not being able to wear her glasses and instantly being at a disadvantage because of it, her internal dialogue about remembered childhood "pranks" taking her glasses had my heart aching for her. While her instance at reaching out and holding on to Hamish had me cheering her on.
 
Hamish had hated war with a passion, though no soldier admitted that to his fellows.
 
If you read The Traitor (Captive Hearts series) you'll remember Hamish but our first glimpse of him here is of him saving Megan's glasses; needless to say, I fell for him right then and there. In a style that will either endear or turn-off readers, Hamish has a very persistent way of comparing everything to soldiering; he approaches society as a battle campaign. I thought it was cute and felt it was a great insight to this gruff but big hearted man. He gets lost a bit in the middle due to the secondary characters but along with Megan, every time his wool kilt came swinging into the picture, I sat up to pay attention. The author did a great job of bringing to light the deep pain, brotherhood, and other myriad emotions that come with soldiering through Hamish; there was a heavy emotional base to this character.
 
As with all Burrowes I have read, there were deep emotions and heart-wrenching scenes. You'll find plenty of humor and warmth in these pages but not a lot of drama. I missed the building of attraction, our couple's relationship is built more from a soulmate perspective who are fairly instantly comfortable and close with one another, and a little bit of excitement; this story is a light breezed Sunday afternoon swinging in a hammock equivalent. I was a little frustrated with how Megan couldn't or wouldn't just tell her family the whole story, the Windhams seem to be touted as a very close more progressive family, why couldn't she go to one of them? I wish I could have gotten to know Hamish's sisters more in favor of sticking with past heroes and our happily ever after was a bit rushed and abrupt. Regardless of those complaints, Sir Fletcher our villain was suitably smarmy with enough filling out to try to hold one or two sympathies, the pace and tone kept things running smoothly, and our main couple was sweet together.
 
If you were ever a little girl in glasses, Megan will steal a piece of your heart while Hamish's caring will repair it. I look forward to coming into his own Colin (Hamish's younger brother) and what's she up to Anwen (Megan's sister) story and seeing how they come together next in the series.