Contemporary · grief · historical · mental health · MM romance · neurodiversity · sexually explicit

REVIEW: Best Laid Plaids by Ella Stainton

The Official Description: In 1920s Scotland, even ghosts wear plaid.

Welcome to a sexy, spooky new paranormal historical series from debut author Ella Stainton.

Scotland, 1928

Dr. Ainsley Graham is cultivating a reputation as an eccentric.

Two years ago, he catastrophically ended his academic career by publicly claiming to talk to ghosts. When Joachim Cockburn, a WWI veteran studying the power of delusional thinking, arrives at his door, Ainsley quickly catalogues him as yet another tiresome Englishman determined to mock his life’s work.

But Joachim is tenacious and openhearted, and Ainsley’s intrigued despite himself. He agrees to motor his handsome new friend around to Scotland’s most unmistakable hauntings. If he can convince Joachim, Ainsley might be able to win back his good name and then some. He knows he’s not crazy—he just needs someone else to know it, too.

Joachim is one thesis away from realizing his dream of becoming a psychology professor, and he’s not going to let anyone stop him, not even an enchanting ginger with a penchant for tartan and lewd jokes. But as the two travel across Scotland’s lovely—and definitely, definitely haunted—landscape, Joachim’s resolve starts to melt. And he’s beginning to think that an empty teaching post without the charming Dr. Graham would make a very poor consolation prize indeed…

Just the facts: M/M romance, sexually explicit, set in 1928, kilts, HFN!

A tender hearted romance between two men who have been battered by life. – Kinzie Things

My thoughts bit: Dr. Ainsley Graham claims he speaks to ghosts… but when he does that in an academic setting his life begins to unravel. Joachim Cockburn travels up to Scotland to meet Dr. Graham armed only with his skill in psychology and a description from Dr. Graham’s brother. Ainsley is “a certified genius with no sense of self-preservation, whatsoever”.

When Cockburn arrives at Dr. Graham’s house, there’s some amusing confusion. Dr. Graham thinks that Cockburn is someone sent to him to sort out whether or not he too is gay… this results in a rather flirtatious scene that is quite humorous.

Once the two men sort out who each other are, Ainsley agrees to show Joachim some ghosts. He is game to convincing someone else they exist not knowing that Joachim is only there to study him for his final dissertation.

I suppose if I had to choose a theme for this book it would be overcoming the challenges that we all have in our lives. Those challenges may be considered a “disability” by some but that doesn’t mean we have to accept them as such. We all need different things in our lives, different people, to give us the support we need to live a full life.

There’s a special place in my heart for Dr. Ainsley Graham. He has spent his entire life dealing with ADHD during a time when awareness of it was almost non-existent. I can’t begin to imagine what an uphill climb that would be. In addition to being neurodiverse, Ainsley is also gay. Simply living his life could result in him ending up incarcerated. That would be a problem for most people, but Ainsley lives without the self-preserving filters that most people rely on.

The author did a wonderful job of writing Ainsley. What I enjoyed the most was that he didn’t seem to think of himself as differently-abled in any way. he acknowledged that he was different, but he is who he is and that’s all there is to it. I can’t really describe it any better than that, but I adored him. He was brave and strong and dealing with a lot of emotional weight from the things that had happened in his past.

The novel is set in Scotland in the 1920s. I didn’t get a real feel for the time… I can’t say that I noticed a lot of a difference in terms of language or grammar. I could imagine Ainsley’s Scottish accent, but my Dad is from Edinburgh and there were certainly some phrases and mannerisms that I felt were missing from Ainsley’s speech.

There are some really steamy sexual encounters in the book. Ainsley is a very free spirit, but I loved the internal push and pull as he struggled to battle with himself over what he wanted. Very enjoyable read!

Things You May Want To Know: Please be aware, I’m by no means an expert on what may or may not have the potential to disturb people. I simply list things that I think a reader might want to be aware of. In this book: (SPOILERS) outdated descriptions of ADHD, outdated descriptions of depression, outdated descriptions of anxiety, death, disease, battlefield injuries, character experiences PTSD

Links: Goodreads // The Publisher

I received an ARC of Best Laid Plaids by Ella Stainton from Crina Press via Netgalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

 

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