Best Laid Plaids (Kilty Pleasures) by Ella Stainton
As a Scotch/Irish descendent, I was drawn to the delightfully fun title of this book. This book hits the ground running in a superbly masterful unveiling of character balancing fun, heat, and the struggles of hiding one’s true feelings. Once I picked it up, I found it difficult to set aside.
Dr. Ainsley Graham is a wealthy Scot, full of energy, who jumps from bedmate to bedmate in an era where it’s illegal to love other men. Oh, and he hears ghosts. Joachim Cockburn is the older man, a student of psychology, coming to prove Ainsley is a bit off his rocker due to his belief in ghosts.
The steam hits early, but the characters go back and forth, trying to hide their growing feelings for each other. Ainsley is a playboy, and Joachim doesn’t want to push him away by revealing his attachment. Together they cross the Scottish countryside looking for ghosts, grasping at intimate moments while convincing themselves it will all end in a week.
The culture and world building really bring Scotland and the characters alive on the page. Ainsley’s grief and guilt about his dead brother keeps him from reaching out and getting close to other people. Joachim’s desire to get his phd and make something of himself works against his realization that Ainsley isn’t mad. There really are ghosts.
The ghosts flit in and out of the story and play a major role for the characters’ growth and the plot, but I’d have loved a bit more play with them. Hopefully in the next story, well see more ghosts.
Note: this is a Dom/sub style story, but it’s not whips and chains BDSM. The dynamics unfold naturally and fit the characters in believable ways. It hits on some hurt comfort, facing falling in love, loyalty, all in a post WWI historical atmosphere.