Review: Desire in Tartan by Suz de Mello

desire-in-tartanReviewed by Ronelle

Dugald Kilburn is sure that he’ll never find love after losing his wife and unborn child. It’s rare for vampires and their mates to successfully reproduce, so what happened to Elsbeth shouldn’t have been a surprise.

Alice Derwent is alone in the world and facing uncertain prospects… until she meets Dugald. She is hired on the spot as a governess for his laird’s children and is swept off towards a future in the Scottish Highlands. A good enough life for an English lady with no family, and the fact that she is instantly attracted to Dugald doesn’t hurt, either.

Both must make choices that will affect their futures. Will they survive it?

***

**I have not read any other Highland Vampire novels and “Desire in Tartan” appears to be the second in the series. From what I’ve read, these novels are linked but can be read as standalones.**

I love paranormal/historical romance mashups and this one had all the outward signs of being a good one; a toned hunk in tartan on the cover, vampires, and the prospect of heat in the Scottish Highlands. The description was intriguing, if short, and I thought that was done intentionally to relay a sense of mystery. Upon completing the book, I found that it was short because there really wasn’t that much going on in the story.

Alice was a Mary Sue incarnate and I didn’t find much about her character that made her unique or interesting. Dugald was a bit better and at least he appeared to have a direction. What plot existed in Desire in Tartan existed only to justify the sex (to which there was very little build up). And that was awkwardly written; I had a hard time feeling the mood when reading descriptions such as “puppies tusseling” in reference to tongues during a kiss or when Dugald’s cock was compared to a hot, roasted sausage. There was also some kink that didn’t appeal to me, that I came upon unexpectedly. Even if Dugald is a vampire, I found myself completely grossed out by him going down on Alice while she was having her courses.

There were a number of editorial issues in Desire in Tartan, including inconsistent brogue. Ms. deMello had the sound down pat, but her consistency was off. Sometimes it’s written as “yer” and sometimes as “your”, “verra” is occasionally “very” by the same speaker (Dugald) and the changes kept jarring me out of a story I was already struggling to hang onto. The novel is also rife with fragment sentences that seemed out of place in scenes that didn’t require tension-building, and there’s a lot of repetitive phrasing.

As for the spelling… running Spell Check would have eliminated the more obvious errors. (“Whiskey” is spelled both correctly and as “Whisky” in places.) Lastly, I wished Ms. deMello (or her editor) had paid better attention to the positioning of her characters during their trysts; it would be physically impossible for Alice and Dugald to do what was written unless their heads spun a full 180 degrees.

Nitpicky? Maybe. Distracting? For me, most definitely.

Bottom line: No real villain, no overarching conflict, and predictable to the core. There were so many threads and elements of this story that, if pursued and developed, would have made for a wonderful novel. What was delivered was a lackluster tease of good storytelling. If you’re looking for a cotton-candy-fluff paranormal/historical romance, you might enjoy this. But don’t expect to find any meat on the plot bones like I did.

Rating: D

Click to purchase: Amazon

Desire in Tartan
by Suz deMello
Re-Release Date: August 24, 2016

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