Excerpt & Review: Romancing the Scot by May McGoldrick

Posted November 14, 2017 by Minx

Excerpt & Review: Romancing the Scot by May McGoldrick

This review is based on a complimentary book I received from NetGalley. It is an honest and voluntary review. The complimentary receipt of it in no way affected my review or rating.

Excerpt & Review: Romancing the Scot by May McGoldrick Romancing the Scot by May McGoldrick
Series: The Pennington Family #1
Also by this author: Christmas in Kilts
Genres: Historical Fiction, Romance
Release Date: November 14, 2017
Publisher: Swerve
Format: ARC
Source: NetGalley
Pages: 284
Purchase at: Amazon Barnes & Noble Google Play Kobo iBooks Publisher
Minx's Rating:
Heat Factor:two-flames

In this stunning series starter by USA Today bestselling author May McGoldrick, meet the new generation of Penningtons...five brothers and sisters of passion and privilege. Enter their aristocratic world…where each will fight injustice and find love.

Hugh Pennington—Viscount Greysteil, Lord Justice of the Scottish Courts, hero of the Napoleonic wars—is a grieving widower with a death wish. When he receives an expected crate from the continent, he is shocked to find a nearly dead woman inside. Her identity is unknown, and the handful of American coins and the precious diamond sown into her dress only deepen the mystery.

Grace Ware is an enemy to the English crown. Her father, an Irish military commander of Napoleon’s defeated army. Her mother, an exiled Scottish Jacobite. When Grace took shelter in a warehouse, running from her father’s murderers through the harbor alleyways of Antwerp, she never anticipated bad luck to deposit her at the home of an aristocrat in the Scottish Borders. Baronsford is the last place she could expect to find safety, and Grace feigns a loss of memory to buy herself time while she recovers.

Hugh is taken by her beauty, passion, and courage to challenge his beliefs and open his mind. Grace finds in him a wounded man of honor, proud but compassionate. When their duel of wits quickly turns to passion and romance, Grace’s fears begin to dissolve…until danger follows her to the very doors of Baronsford. For, unknown to either of them, Grace has in her possession a secret that will wreak havoc within the British government. Friend and foe are indistinguishable as lethal forces converge to tear the two lovers apart or destroy them both.


Romancing the Scot is the first book in The Pennington Family series and I feel this promises to be a wonderful series. This series is set in the early eighteen-hundreds in Baronsford Scotland but the Pennington family is actually English. At the start of this story we meet Grace Ware who was the daughter of a military commander who fought with the French against the English. Grace and her father were traveling from America to Brussels, but while stopped in Antwerp they were ambushed and Grace barely escaped with her life. Attempting to outwit her pursuers she hid in a shipping crate to escape notice but before she was able to get free she became trapped in the container.

Hugh Pennington was a military man who hated the French and was haunted by the memory of his dead wife and son. It had been eight years since they had passed but it did not seem as if he would ever be able to move past their deaths. When his shipment arrived and he found Grace near death it hit him rather hard. He could not save his wife or child but he was determined that he would do whatever he could to save this mystery woman. There was just something about Grace that stirred feelings in him that he thought were long since dead. With the help of his sister Lady Josephine Pennington they were able to nurse Grace back to health.

When Grace awoke her memory was a little scattered at first but she did immediately realize the danger she was in. Her father was enemy to the English crown and not only was she in the home of English citizens but Hugh was an ex-military man who was also Lord Justice of the Scottish Courts. To make matters worse, Hugh also blamed the French for his inability to get to his wife and son before he could prevent their deaths. Not a good situation for Grace to be in at all. So, not having many options she decided that for a time she would feign amnesia until she was able to get a better understand of her surroundings and how she could get herself out from the danger she was most certainly in.

As Grace, Hugh, and Jo interacted it became clear that there was an easy camaraderie between these characters. What could not be denied was that there was an attraction between Grace and Hugh but there was nothing to be done about it. Hugh did not know who Grace really was and even if he did Grace was sure that he would take her into custody immediately. What Grace did not know was that there were unscrupulous characters who were hot on her trail. She had something that they wanted and they were willing to go to any lengths to retrieve it. With all the danger and untruths between them Grace and Hugh would have to weather the storm that threatened to tear them apart and would their budding love be enough to keep them together?

Romancing the Scot was a very romantic story but I loved that it started off with action and danger. I mean who doesn’t love a story with spies and intrigue 😉. There was a nice mystery element woven in as well. Grace and Hugh were nicely paired together and even though they had a sexual attraction to each other their feelings developed based upon mutual affection and appreciation of each other’s strengths. In addition, there was an emphasis on social issues from this time period that I felt added a real interesting element to the story. The focus of Romancing the Scot was more than a simple romance and that made it a pleasure to read. I also liked the Pennington characters that were introduced and this is a series that I would want to absolutely continue reading.

*Thank you to Netgalley & St. Martin’s Press for this eARC of Romancing the Scot*

Excerpt from Romancing the Scot:

Looking the shipping crate over for damage and seeing none, he retrieved an iron crow from a workbench. Jo was standing inside the doors, eyeing the box doubtfully from a safe distance.

“Come closer. It won’t bite.”

“Not a chance. From the smell of that thing, a person would think you’re importing cadavers. Have you also taken up being a Resurrectionist as a hobby?”

He patted the crate affectionately. “This sweet thing has been sitting in the bowels of a ship from Antwerp. You know what the hold of a ship smells like?”

“Actually, I don’t.” She held a handkerchief to her nose and drew closer. “But I think you’re correct with the reference to ‘bowels.’”

Hugh took the first nail out. “Well, stand back, since you’ve become so prissy. Though I recall a younger version of you leading the rest of us through bogs and marshes that smelled no better.”

“Of course! But as I recall, we had frogs and turtles and the occasional dragon that needed hunting,” she replied with a smile. “Very well. Open it and let’s see this treasure of yours.”

Prying off the top took him only a moment. Throwing it to the side, he pulled back the tarp that covered the basket and then stared curiously at the dark green rags bundled at the bottom.

Leaning in, Hugh’s enthusiasm evaporated as a horrid realization settled in. This was no pile of old clothing. A shock of blond hair. A shoe. A hand. The body of a dead woman lay curled up in the gondola.

“Bloody hell.”

“What is it?” Immediately, Jo was at his side. “Good God!”

Hugh climbed in and crouched beside the body. He took her hand. She was cold to the touch. His heart sank. The crate had been shipped from Antwerp. To be trapped for so many days with no water, no food, in the cold and damp of the ship’s hold. He had no idea who this woman was or how she came to be in here.

The thought struck him. Perhaps it wasn’t an inadvertent act. Perhaps she was murdered and her body had been dumped into the crate.

Dismay and alarm clawed at him as he pushed away the matted ringlets of golden hair. She was young. He lifted her chin. The body had none of the stiffness of postmortem. He stared at her lips. He may have imagined it but they seemed to have moved.

“Bright . . .” The whisper was a mere rustle of leaves in a breeze.

The fingers jerked and came to life, clutching at his hand.

“She’s not dead,” he called to Jo, relieved. “Send for the doctor. I’ll take her to the house.”

His sister ran out, calling for help, and he lifted the woman. She emitted a low groan. Her limbs had been locked in the same cramped position for so many days. Hugh propped her over the side of the gondola.

“Stay with me,” he encouraged. “Talk to me.”

Holding the woman in place, he clambered from the basket and then gently lifted her out, cradling her in his arms. She weighed next to nothing.

As they went out into the rain, he feared she was about to die. The exertion of trying to breathe showed on her face. He’d seen this on the battlefield. The final effort before death.

Starting up the path, he stumbled, not realizing the woman’s skirts were dragging on the ground. He staggered but caught himself before they went down. Her head lolled against his chest, her face gray and mask-like. She appeared to be slipping away. It would be a shame that she’d survived the crossing only to perish now.

A dagger point of anger pierced Hugh’s brain as he recalled another dismal day when he’d lifted two other bodies, wrapped in burial shrouds, from a wooden box.

“Talk to me,” he ordered. “Say something.”

As he made his way up the hill toward the house, a bolt of lightning streaked across the sky above Baronsford. Thunder shook the ground and the sky opened, unleashing fierce torrents of rain on them.

His wife. His son. Hugh hadn’t been there for them. They’d died as he and the British army were being chased by the French across Spain. He’d been trying to save his men’s lives, not knowing that those most precious to him were suffering.

“You’ve survived a horrifying ordeal. Give me the chance to save you.”

The woman struggled weakly in Hugh’s arms, and her head tipped back. He watched as her lips parted, welcoming the wetness of the falling rain.

“We’re almost there.”

“Bright . . .” she murmured.

He looked into her face and saw she was trying hard to open her eyes.

“Yes, brighter than that crate,” he said, encouraged by her effort. Any movement, however small, gave him hope. “And you’ve been in there for Lord knows how long.”


About May McGoldrick

Authors May McGoldrick

Authors Nikoo and Jim McGoldrick (writing as May McGoldrick) weave emotionally satisfying tales of love and danger. Publishing under the names of May McGoldrick and Jan Coffey, these authors have written more than thirty novels and works of nonfiction for Penguin Random House, Mira, HarperCollins, Entangled, and Heinemann. Nikoo, an engineer, also conducts frequent workshops on writing and publishing and serves as a Resident Author. Jim holds a Ph.D. in Medieval and Renaissance literature and teaches English in northwestern Connecticut. They are the authors of Much Ado About Highlanders, Taming the Highlander, and Tempest in the Highlands with SMP Swerve.

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2 responses to “Excerpt & Review: Romancing the Scot by May McGoldrick

    • It was my pleasure to review this book! It had many great elements that kept me engaged from start to finish. I will absolutely jump over to your website to check out that contest 🤩.

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