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Charismatic and worldly-wise, Cecelia MacDonald is the leader of a league of Scotswomen. Formed a few years after the Scottish uprising of 1745, the main mission of the league is to reacquire the treasures that have been wrested from their clan. Cecelia’s primary goal is clear: She is to retrieve the sgian-dubh, a symbolically significant ceremonial dagger that once belonged to the chief of her clan. However, her path is littered with dangerous obstacles, including the steadfastly law-abiding barrister Alexander Sloane, who works for the Duke of Newcastle. Alexander is tasked with following Cecelia, who, in the eyes of the magistrate, is a suspected Jacobite sympathizer. If he does the job well, he could achieve his long-cherished dream of becoming Baron of the Exchequer. Alexander and Cecelia find themselves attracted to each other, engaging in a cat-and-mouse game with each seeking the upper hand. But when Cecelia and her league catch the attention of several dangerous adversaries, the steady barrister is forced by the defiant “demirep” to reevaluate his ideas of loyalty, truthfulness, and love. The second installment in Conkle’s Scottish Treasures series doles out angst and wit in equal measure. The characters are instantly likable, and it’s easy to sympathize with their internal struggles. Cecelia’s relationships with other women, enlivened simultaneously by a smidge of uneasiness and dollops of steady solidarity, are especially well etched. Her pursuit of the dagger is replete with suspense, and Alexander’s official pursuit of Cecelia is intriguing, but the thrill flags when their goals shift and each becomes more interested in the other than in their long-held aims.

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