Holy crap, that's the first thought I had when I "closed the book", or whatever people do when they finish the book on Kindle.
My first Tessa Dare was [b: Say Yes to the Marquess|20605274|Say Yes to the Marquess (Castles Ever After, #2)|Tessa Dare|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1403745853s/20605274.jpg|39879152], and that was not the best first encounter you could have with a writer.
My second Tessa Dare is this book, and I tell myself, everyone deserves a second chance because, sometimes, they surprise the hell out of you.
I LOVE Maddie and Logan as a couple and as individuals. The characters are beautifully alive. Little details in the book really made Maddie and Logan so lovingly real, down to the little piece of Logan's plaid, which Maddie used to tie her plait. This book has got fantastic characterization.
The book opens with Maddie's letters to Captain Logan MacKenzie. They were written by a 16-year-old Maddie, in a wild attempt to avoid having to go to balls, with wit and tenderness. She created her very own Captain MacKenzie on paper, until she realized she could not continue the charade anymore, she "killed" her Captiain and stayed in half mourning every since, never made her come-out, never had a suitor, never anything, except her books, paintings and peace.
Instead of making Maddie into a spinster, Tessa Dare made Maddie wonderfully graceful. She is not a recluse, not a on-the-shelf spinster, a woman with no prospect of marriage. In truth, she is all that. But the usual traits of those recluse spinsters who have no prospect are all missing in Maddie. She is softly alive, with her painting and her wonderful self-awareness and sweet gentleness. She is fanciful and imaginative but never silly. She is not overly practical or cold. She is.......such a dear!
And my my my, Captain MacSofty, all hard shells outside but has such cute boyish charms. He is not a rake, not a rogue, not a criminal, not a lord. He is Captain Logan MacKenzie, steady and loyal, wonderfully jealous and tenderly rough. When he took out his spectacles, just once in the book, he came to lfie. It was a stroke of ingenuity from Tessa Dare. That is him. A fighter with a bookish air.
Seeing her fake Captain was not so fake, scared the shxt out of Maddie. She never thought there was a real Captain MacKenzie who would be reading her letters. And she had told him plenty of stories from her life. It turned out Captain MacFantasy was also Captain MacBlackmailing. He wanted a home for his men and with a castle under her name, he came to blackmail Maddie into marriage. I know, it sounds awful. But no it wasn't. lol It was all kind of rather....sweet. The letters played a pivotal role in the book and I think Tessa Dare used the ruse magnificently. It carried the book and gave the story an innocence and a sense of trust.
Logan's 5 comrades are wonderful secondary characters. They didn't steal the spotlight but instead, gave Logan's character credibility. Maddie's Aunt Thea is a wonderful character too. Occasional appearances, nothing major, but every bit of facilitating. These secondary characters could very well be future characters but that is just the point: They are secondary, in the sense that they existed, only to showcase the lead characters.
I went between 4 and 5 stars for most of the book, especially after 50%. The fact that they did everything except the real act was frustrating. With Maddie trying to find her way out, and then Logan turning her down, I was pulling my hair!! Guys! You are destroying my story!! Maddie and Logan are such wonderful characters. I desperately wanted an awesome story for them. But for most of the book I felt......hmm.......I love it but I wish...........It was just not getting there, if you know what I mean (wink wink). But the last 10% of the book left such a stupid smile on my face. I quickly decided, yeah, I had wanted more for Maddie and Logan, but somehow, this would work.
Now I am going to start writing myself some fancy letters, to my own Captain MaconlyinmyDreams.
p.s.: the cover is PEEEEERRRRRRRFECT!!! This is how I would imagine Logan in his highland glory and Maddie, with a little bit of Logan on her. (Read the book and you will know what I mean. :D)
p.s.2: This is NOT a highland romance.