Today’s team book review comes from Barb, she blogs at http://barbtaub.com/
Barb has been reading Scotch On The Rocks by Lizzie Lamb
My Review: 5 stars out of 5
When I want to read a good romance, it simply makes sense to reach for one of Lizzie Lamb’s books. Not only are her heroines strong, snarky women, her heroes appropriately gorgeous and misguided, but… Scotland!
Since moving to Scotland, I’ve come to appreciate the beauty, color, and rugged appeal of the country. (Yes…the scenery. What did you think I was talking about? Oh. Well…that too!) So Lizzie’s books full of kilts and bagpipes and whisky are incredibly fun.
Her latest release, Scotch on the Rocks, certainly doesn’t disappoint. From heroine Issy’s first exhilarating dash across a fast-flooding causeway to reach her island home, the pace and story never falter. And how could it? The author subtly channels Emma, one of trope-defining Miss Austen’s most enchanting characters. Like Emma, strangers might have said Issy was “handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence…” (Emma by Jane Austen, 1815) As Emma might have done had she lived now, Issy had a successful career as an interior designer, her success due to her matchmaking abilities to produce dream interiors for her delighted clients.
Unlike Emma, however, as Issy flees back to her home with her father’s ashes strapped into her backseat, she is escaping a life whose appearances never matched reality. Her dysfunctional family—the rich father and famous mother who left her with neither love nor any of their wealth—her cheating fiance, even her job were left behind as Issy heads back to the only love and home she’s ever known, her Aunt Esme and her beloved Cormorant Island off the coast of Scotland.
Like Emma, Issy is bright, strong-willed, and painfully clueless. She has no concept of how to treat her attraction to and distrust of Brodie, no idea what secrets those around her hold.
“She felt as if she’d fallen asleep during a blockbuster movie, and had woken to find that she’d missed a pivotal scene; the one where the hero gets the girl, or the murderer is revealed. The scene which explains what the movie is really about. ‘Why are you all looking at me like that? Anyone want to tell me what’s going on?’”
If you’ve ever lived in a small village—and especially if you haven’t!—I think you’ll enjoy the way everyone casually assumes ownership rights to everyone else’s business. Chief among them is the adorable Lindy, whose drive to escape her island heritage has her showing up in completely different persona almost every day.
Poor Issy is often lost among the strong personalities around her. And, more often than not, she acts first and regrets her actions later. In another homage to Emma, she is then left to berate herself with an update of Mr. Knightley’s famous line— “Badly done, Ishabel Stuart. Badly done.”
Author Lizzie Lamb’s gift for dialog lets the reader hear the lilt of Scottish voices without overwhelming us with over concentration on syntax and grammar. I absolutely loved hearing the phrases I hear around me here in Glasgow, where a woman is affectionately called hen, everything from the dog to the chippy shop is wee, and health is toasted with a slainte mhath. And who wouldn’t love a heilan’ coo (Highland Cow)?
Of course, for American readers, it also holds a few surprises. For example, I was laughing out loud at Issy’s plans to renovate “outhouses” into artists studios. (My fellow Americans are used to picturing outhouses as Appalachian one-holer conveniences, perhaps with a little moon-shaped window cut into the door.) Or the way All-American Brodie’s university degree mentions taking a “first degree”, which is certainly not available from an American university.
For the beautiful pacing, character development, and that all-important HEA, I would give Scotch On The Rocks 5 out of 5 stars and would be the first in line to pick up any future books by this accomplished author.
Scotch On The Rocks has been shortlisted for the Exeter Novel prize.