Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Devil You Know, #2
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Hero: Cassius Gerard Ramsay
Heroine: Cecelia Teague
Date of Publication: September 29, 2020
Started On: December 11, 2020
Finished On: December 26, 2020
The second installment in the Devil You Know series; All Scot and Bothered by Kerrigan Byrne turned out to be anticlimactic in many ways. This series which focuses on three women who meet and forge an unlikely friendship and bond at boarding school, which continues to be a huge part of their lives even after, often reads like a cliched manuscript for a women’s rights advocacy group.
Cecelia Teague spends her most formative years undergoing emotional and at times physical abuse at the hands of her father until she is rescued and given all of those things which she never would have thought possible. However, the one constant in her life remains – loneliness, which has never truly left since those dark days long in her past.
Cecelia’s path crosses that of Cassius Gerard Ramsay, when one of her friends gets married to Ramsay’s half brother. Ramsay is a stickler for due process, understandable given his profession as the Lord Chief Justice of the High Court. Furthermore, Ramsay is a man who believes abstinence is key to a life that is not ruled by vices. However, in Cecelia he finds a woman who tests his resolve for the first time in seven long years.
Even so, fate does not treat these two ever so kindly at first, with Cecelia forced to assume responsibility for something that Ramsay loathes with his very existence. When danger comes calling and in pursuit of Cecelia and those whom she holds dearest, Ramsay does not waste any time in taking her to safety until they are able to get to the bottom of it.
As these two battle out their mutual attraction to one another, the truth that emerges from the past maybe a much heavier price to pay than either of them bargained for. But reconcile they must, and acceptance is key to a shared future, if Ramsay and Cecelia are ever so inclined.
As I mentioned at the beginning of my review, this book turned out to be such a let-down in many ways. I found the story bogged down with tedious detail and cliched in many ways that I often left comments expressing my dissatisfaction with the undertones in the story. I am all for strong heroines who go out of their way to fight for and carve out their rightful place in society. But I do dislike stories that rather than impart important messaging along those lines with subtlety, goes to include preachy dialogue that just falls flat, given the time period, circumstances, and characters in question.
My biggest disappointment was how Ramsay turned out to be. He was such a formidable character from the very first installment in the series. His presence alone had a vibe that I liked, something that sent delicious shivers running up and down my spine. But alas, his character seemed to deflate like a balloon that loses air in small degrees, as Ms. Byrne attempted to make Cecelia stand strong and true to her values.
I agree that Ramsay was an ass ofttimes and held such strong opinions of his own regarding women’s place in society and how his life should be. In a way I don’t blame him given the job title which he holds, which comes with a lot of moral and ethical responsibilities attached to it. It is not just his own self and actions that would be under scrutiny but those whom he considers his family and friends as well.
So Cecelia in her high handedness refusing to see that was part of the problem for me, while Ramsay’s stubbornness also was unacceptable. But then in truth, that is what humans are like, and I would have expected them to find a way to be together because their love was worth it. As women, we don’t have to push feminism and women’s right to the extent that we are unwilling to bend and compromise for what is important in life. Love requires compromise, a future built on mutual trust and other values requires compromise – show me a successful marriage and/or relationship that does not include compromise as the number one keyword for their success and I will reconsider my opinion.
So Ramsay’s character, needless to say, was butchered in a way that was unacceptable in my opinion. He was initially the very definition of compelling. I keep wondering as to whatever happened to Ms. Byrne’s will to write ruthless heroes that made my senses go haywire. I wonder what happened to the writer who was willing to go where her characters took her, even when they were often difficult roads to travel on. But we as readers appreciated that darkness to her characters which few authors tend to risk writing. I wanted so much more for Ramsay and Cecelia – a plot that just sank in the middle was not it.
Recommended for die-hard fans of Kerrigan Byrne and fans of the series! I am not entirely certain that I would be reading the next installment, given the reviews that show that readers were more or less let down once again!
Final Verdict: What a sore disappointment this turned out to be, me with my high hopes smashed to smithereens by the overly preachy and cliched overtones on feminism & women’s rights interwoven into the story.
“I like your names,” she whispered, swaying forward. “Ramsay. And Cassius.”
He hated his name. He hated it every day. “I like yers.”
She blinked. “Would you say it?”
“No, might you call me Cecelia?”
“Cecelia.” He drew out the syllables, letting his tongue linger over them. Learn them.
She closed her eyes, seeming to savor the word with the same vigor as the truffles. “Again?”
An invisible restraint shackled his bones, this one not of cold hard iron, but of velvet. It tugged him toward her. Drew her name out of his chest like a poem, and then a prayer.
Her lips parted.
And he was lost.
She didn’t reach for him, nor did she do anything else wanton or wicked. She just accepted his mouth with a sweet sigh, tilting her head to receive more of him.
He lifted his hands to her face, intent upon gently holding her still so he could extricate himself from a kiss that shouldn’t be.
His thumbs drew up the line of her jaw and over her cheek, finding no angles, no hard lines. Somehow, he was cupping her face. Tilting it back. Drawing her in rather than pushing her away.
The roaring of his blood in his ears became a growl and then a purr.
He skimmed the seam of her lips with his tongue in a warm caress as his hand covered hers on his jaw. He laced their fingers in a motion that sent shivers rocketing through her entire frame like the waves of a sea gale. One crashing over the other with no sign of a break.
Her greedy hands danced over him, taking advantage of their position. She raked her fingers through a soft wealth of golden hair over his chest, finding the flat, masculine nipples that pebbled beneath her touch.
He made a noise that wasn’t entirely human and allowed her to slide down his body until she stood again so he could gather her hands in his own.
No, she thought, pulling her hands from his grasp. No, you don’t get to control this.
She wanted him like he was now. Free and wild, uninhibited and mindless. She wanted the man to give way to the animal beneath. If almost every one of their interactions had been a battle, this one would be different in a very unmistakable way.
This was a battle she’d win.
She gazed up over the cords of his stomach and the mounds of his chest into gilded lightning glinting down at her from eyes that no longer held a hint of winter. His skin was flushed with arousal. His lids at half-mast.
He bared his teeth in a show of dominance, though his hand was gentle as it urged her mouth toward the column of his sex.
He thought he was still in control.
She employed the strength of her jaw, sucking him in, taking him as deep against her throat as she could. Her tongue flattened to make room for him, rubbing at the underside of his rod as she pumped faster.
“Nay,” he gritted out. “Ye canna.”
Yes, she thought. I can. You’re mine. This is mine. This wicked intimacy they would always share regardless of the outcome of their current nightmare. At least she’d owned him with her mouth. And he was the man whose lips she would never forget.
Cecelia finally opened her eyes, glorying in the sight of him locked within his own skin and strength. Helpless and vulnerable inside her mouth. Arching with a pleasure that looked very much like pain.
This was the beast. This untethered, unselfconscious thing.
This beast was hers. This beast wanted to lay claim to her, as well.
“How can I not look?” he asked her as though she’d gone mad. His growl had deepened another impossible degree, to that of a Gregorian monk at prayer. “I didna know such perfection existed.”
In that moment Cecelia didn’t care if anything subsequent proved to be folly, she merely realized she was falling for this strong giant brute, with all the subtle grace of a landslide. Plunging artlessly into love with him even though every logical thought told her she should not.
Logic didn’t belong in this mysterious Scottish forest.
Only this. Only them.
“Oh, don’t make me say it,” she pleaded.
A dark chuckle overtook him as he lowered his great body to nuzzle into her hair. “Ye confound me, woman,” he purred into her ear. “Tell me what ye want, and I’ll give it to ye.”
“I want you.” Cecelia turned her head, sifting her fingers through his hair as she returned her breath against his ear. “And you can have me, Ramsay,” she offered gently, reaching in between their bodies to stroke his hard length over his trousers. “In whatever way you want me. I can take it. I can take you. All of you.”
There was a moment of fright. A single, breathless knowledge that once he’d claimed her this night, neither of them be the same. His weight was both a comfort and a burden, and she did the only thing she could think of to release a sudden rush of anxiety.
She bit the muscle between his neck and his shoulder.
He snarled and drove forward, pressing inside.