This book for me was quite a departure from my usual genres. While I read the odd Mills and Boon long ago, with the idea of trying to write one (no, I didn’t), straight romance is not usually my thing.
I picked this title up after seeing it as one of the prize winners in the RBRT 2016 Book Awards (in which my book, The Prince’s Man, was a category winner – yay!). Both the cover (love that colour, and ooh! Man in a kilt!) and the title grabbed my fancy, and when I read the blurb, I couldn’t resist! Being a part-time resident of a far flung part of Scotland, anything that explores the small communities that still exist almost outside of the pressures of modern progress appeals to me, so the island setting of Scotch on the Rocks clinched the deal.
Here’s the blurb:
ISHABEL STUART is at the crossroads of her life.
Her wealthy industrialist father has died unexpectedly, leaving her a half-share in a ruined whisky distillery and the task of scattering his ashes on a Munro. After discovering her fiancé playing away from home, she cancels their lavish Christmas wedding at St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh and heads for the only place she feels safe – Eilean na Sgairbh, a windswept island on Scotland’s west coast – where the cormorants outnumber the inhabitants, ten to one.
When she arrives at her family home – now a bed and breakfast managed by her left-wing, firebrand Aunt Esme, she finds a guest in situ – BRODIE. Issy longs for peace and the chance to lick her wounds, but gorgeous, sexy American, Brodie, turns her world upside down.
In spite of her vow to steer clear of men, she grows to rely on Brodie. However, she suspects him of having an ulterior motive for staying at her aunt’s Bed and Breakfast on remote Cormorant Island. Having been let down by the men in her life, will it be third time lucky for Issy? Is she wise to trust a man she knows nothing about – a man who presents her with more questions than answers?
As for Aunt Esme, she has secrets of her own . . .
And my review
Ishabel Stuart was born on Cormorant Island, off the coast of Scotland. When her city life goes into meltdown she returns to her roots, coming home to the property now owned by her aunt, Esme. Unfortunately for her, Esme is just heading in the opposite direction to join one of the protest camps that have been her lifelong passion, leaving Ishabel in charge of the sole remaining occupant of the guest house – Brodie, a ridiculously good-looking, wealthy American hunk. Let personality clashes commence…
As someone who lives part-time in Scotland, I was drawn to this book by the setting, rather than the plot, but was delighted to find it an absolutely charming read, with wonderful atmosphere and great dialogue including portions (neither too much, or too little) of totally authentic Scottish dialect. There is humour (Pershing the parrot is hilarious), romance, more than one mystery to be solved, and the sort of outrageous characters that you really meet in this kind of small community.
About the only thing I found hard to swallow was how utterly too-good-to-be-true Brodie remained throughout the book. He was a saint, considering the sort of behaviour he was subjected to, and not just by Ishabel. Where can I find this paragon? I want him!
Highly recommended for lovers of Scotland and romance, with an intriguing touch of mystery.
I didn’t put into the review, as I didn’t want to give a negative impression of a book I thoroughly enjoyed, but as an author I did find the construction a bit odd – not conforming to the formula normally expected of romance novels. This in no way detracted from the read, it just surprised me, and maybe that was a good thing.
The point at which Brodie and Issy fall out in what should be a seemingly insurmountable way, seemed rather plot driven (okay, Issy has been unreasonable for much of the book, with good reason, but this just seemed an overblown reaction even for her) and was resolved so fast it presented no more than a blip, rather than the crisis point it would generally be in such a novel.
And the core story turned out to be about more about Esme than Issy, and as Esme is off page for two thirds of the book, the ending didn’t go quite the way I expected. I was fine with that, but just sayin’…
Authors, how strictly do you stick to plot construction guidelines – turning points, pinch points, midpoints, twists etc., and where they are positioned throughout the narrative? How well do you think a novel can still work if it departs from formula?