Border Moonlight
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Former president George W. Bush once said “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, and, well, you can’t fool me again” (pardon the paraphrasing). That Bushism pretty much sums up my feelings toward Border Moonlight by Amanda Scott. I wasn’t impressed by the two other books I’d read by Scott, but I wanted to give her one last shot. Third time’s the charm, right? Wrong.

Sibylla Cavers is a young Scottish noblewoman with a peculiar habit of leaving men at the altar. She is painted as an intelligent and headstrong woman with a knack for ferreting out all sorts of good information and gossip, to the point where some people speculate that she has to be psychic—and, this being the 14th century, that makes her a witch, of course. Among Sibylla’s three rejected fiancés is Simon Murray, the young heir to Elishaw Castle, an important Border stronghold. He is naturally offended by Sibylla’s refusal and vows revenge. A few years later, though, Simon finds himself helping Sibylla save a drowning child. Simon and Sibylla (which is one of the most atrocious romance novel names out there, by the way) must work together to keep the child safe and ensure that the tenuous peace between Scotland and England perseveres. Sibylla and Simon fall in love along the way and wind up marrying—but not for the reason you might expect.

Just as she did in Border Lass and Knight’s Treasure, Ms. Scott simply tried too hard. The dialogue is stiffly formal, and while I applaud her for trying to make the characters speak how you’d think nobility in the 14th century really spoke, it actually just makes everything boring. Sibylla and Simon—along with any other characters that open their mouths—speak in long expository speeches. I had a hard time keeping track of all the different families and titles and political affiliations.

The villain in the novel, the Earl of Fife, is also a bit disappointing, as villains go. He isn’t truly evil or maniacal, just greedy and power hungry, constantly scheming ways to grab more land and riches.

The love scenes are disappointing as well. There’s really only one, and I got the impression that Sibylla was just lying back, thinking of England (or, in this case, Scotland).

Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll be giving Amanda Scott a fourth chance. When it comes to romance novels set in Scotland, I mostly prefer ones set in the Highlands. But sometimes a Border book will come along and make me glad I deviated from my preference. Sadly, though, Amanda Scott’s books just don’t do that for me.

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