A Cozy, Warm, & Beautiful Book

Once a Laird by Mary Jo Putney

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So, I would describe this as a cozy romance rather than a steamy one. For me, that’s not a problem at all. I love a slow-build where the hero and heroine truly get to know one another–and that’s absolutely what this is. Mary Jo Putney’s writing style reminded me of Julie Garwood and Mary Stewart—both authors I really enjoy.

Kai Ramsay returns from an Indiana Jones-esque career abroad to become the new laird when his grandfather passes away. Signy Matheson is a lovely, fiercely stubborn artist who has basically been the previous laird’s right-hand-woman for the past decade. When the two meet, Kai falls first and hard. But Signy is tired of all of the unasked-for responsibilities she has carried on her shoulders for years and longs to experience what Kai already has–adventure and the wider world. She also wants to pursue her art by studying under other artists.

The struggle Kai faces as he comes to understand this is really interesting. In some ways, the book feels very modern because Kai is such an accepting, open man who fully agrees that Signy deserves to have what he did—freedom to explore the world and to pursue her passions. Of course, that also means she would have to leave him behind and that push and pull is one of the book’s primary conflicts.

The setting of the Scottish islands of Thorsay are a character almost in and of themselves. Kai’s refamiliarizing himself with his home is one of the main points of action in the story as he and Signy travel about the islands and as he comes to know his people and must solve the financial problems left behind by the old laird. Mary Jo Putney is a master of worldbuilding. You come to love the islands and their hard-working people. There are rich details of landscape, food, dress, and many carefully composed, rich backstories. Putney could set a multitude of stories in Thorsay as she has created a beautiful, old world that is both homey, comforting, and fascinating to visit.

There is not a lot of action, but it is an enjoyable read nonetheless. One to curl up with on a crisp autumn day.

Steam Level: Very Slow Burn

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