St. Martin’s Paperbacks
July 30, 2019
Blurb: The timeless romance, soaring passion—and gorgeous men—of Scotland come to modern-day America. And the rules of love will never be the same…
Isabel Buchanan is fiery, funny, and never at a loss for words. But she is struck speechless when her mother returns from a trip to Scotland with a six-foot-tall, very handsome souvenir. Izzy’s mother is so infatuated by the fellow that Izzy has to plan their annual Highland Games all by herself. Well, not completely by herself. The Highlander’s strapping young nephew has come looking for his uncle…
Alasdair Blackmoor has never seen a place as friendly as this small Georgia town—or a girl as brilliant and beguiling as Izzy. Instead of saving his uncle, who seems to be having a lovely time, Alasdair decides he’d rather help Izzy with the Highland Games. Show her how to dance like a Highlander. Drink like a Highlander. And maybe, just maybe, fall in love with a Highlander. But when the games are over, where do they go from here?
A Highlander Walks into a Bar not only sounds like the beginning of a joke but just the type of novel that I’d usually love especially since it was written by Laura Trentham whose Cottonbloom novels I’ve enjoyed and whose novel earlier this year, The Military Wife, was just incredible (read my review of that novel). While A Highlander Walks into a Bar is by no means a bad read, I felt disappointed by the slow pacing, which tended to make my attention drift.
The novels begins with Isabel “Izzy” Buchanan picking up her mother, Rose, at the airport after her recent trip to Scotland. But it seems that her mother has brought home more than a suitcase:
Lord have mercy, her mother had brought back a six-foot, two-hundred-pound-plus souvenir from Scotland.
Izzy is immediately suspicious of this Scottish groundskeeper with whom her mother is enamored. Was he after Rose’s estate?
Enter Alasdair, Gareth’s nephew, who has been sent by his mother (Gareth’s sister-in-law) to make sure that Gareth isn’t being led down the merry path by some American floozy.
I liked all the characters: Izzy whose tongue is uncensored and who is frequently naive and wondrous and clutzy; Alasdair who despite his smooth personality can still blush; Gareth and Rose who discover that it’s never too late to fall in love; and the people of Highland who seem to be more Scottish than Scotland.
The novel is good-natured and frequently fun with a heartwarming ending and a path to the next novel in the series.
If you’re the type of reading who doesn’t tend to notice pacing issues and love the idea of a small-town that’s more Scottish than any you’ll find in Scotland, give A Highlander Walks into a Bar a shot.
I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
3 butterflies and a ladybug out of 5 butterflies
From A Highlander Walks into a Bar. Copyright © 2019 by Laura Trentham and reprinted with permission from St. Martin’s Paperbacks.
“I brought home a surprise!” Rose Buchanan threw her arms out wide as if embracing the world. From the sto- ries she told to the way she entered the room, Rose was exuberant and entertaining and enjoyed being the center of attention.
Isabel Buchanan, who was perfectly content on the fringes, pushed her wavy hair off her sticky forehead with hands that trembled from the nightmare drive through At- lanta to the airport to pick up her mom. Her mom’s trip to Scotland had doubled as both research and vacation. The jammed stop-and-go traffic had left Izzy flustered and al- ready dreading their exit from the airport.
Rolling her stiff shoulders, Izzy stepped around the bumper of the car, popping the trunk open on the way. Her mom had a beautiful plaid scarf of greens and browns and blues tossed over her shoulder and what appeared to be new earrings. Either purchase might inspire her mother to gush, and she would expect reciprocal gushing from Izzy. Making an educated guess, Izzy asked, “Are those ear-
rings your surprise?”
Without waiting for an answer, she hauled one of her mom’s giant wheeled suitcases closer and prepared to heave it into the back. The sooner they got out of Atlanta, the sooner she could get back to work planning the High- land festival. Or she might pour an extra-large glass of wine and escape into a book. A guilty pleasure, considering how much she still had to get in order in three scant weeks.
“Allow me, please.” A bearded man who had been rolling cases to the curb stepped forward with a grin and an accent Izzy couldn’t place.
She checked her pockets and winced. No cash to tip the man, and no hope her mom had thought of something so inconsequential.
“Do you like them? They’re hammered silver.” Her mom flipped her bobbed matching silver hair to the side and displayed one earring with her fingers. “And as a matter of fact, I did buy them from a lovely shop in Edinburgh, but I brought something bigger home. Something more exciting.”
“Your scarf? It’s lovely.” Izzy gave her mom limited attention while she watched the man load suitcase after suitcase into her trunk, fitting them together like a puzzle. More luggage than her mom had left with. She waved to catch the man’s attention. “Hang on. That’s not all my mom’s stuff.”
For the first time, Izzy really looked at the man. He was close to her mom in age, and good-looking in a bear- like way with a gleaming white smile highlighted by a salt-and-pepper beard. His full head of hair was a shade darker, but graying heavily at the temples. The expression on the man’s face when he looked in her mom’s direction—a mix of adoration and amusement—cleared the fog of confusion.
Lord have mercy, her mother had brought back a six- foot, two-hundred-pound-plus souvenir from Scotland.
Laura Trentham Blog Tour Q&A A HIGHLANDER WALKS INTO A BAR
- What inspired you to write A Highlander Walks into a Bar?
It was actually a Buick car commercial from a couple of years ago where a grandson picks his grandmother up from the airport and she says saucily, “I did a lot of shopping in Italy.” From behind her luggage steps an Italian gentleman. Of course, my writer brain kept picturing what happened after the three of drove off and twisted it into an entire story but had to make up a town for them to return to!
Another big inspiration is a real-life place: Helen, Georgia, is a town that has transformed itself into a German village. It’s picturesque and they celebrate Octoberfest every year. I twisted that concept and made my little town of Highland, Georgia, into a Scottish village including an annual Highland Games that the Buchanan ladies put on every summer which is an important aspect of the book.
- Introduce us to your main characters!
Isabel Buchanan is the daughter who picks her mother up from the airport only to be surprised by the appearance of Gareth Blackmoor, who happens to be keeping his title of Earl of Cairndow a secret from everyone in Highland, Georgia, including Rose Buchanan, Isabel’s mother.
Alasdair Blackmoor is Gareth’s nephew and heir to the title and castle in Scotland. He’s been sent to round up his wandering uncle and to make sure he isn’t being taken advantage of by some pushy American women. Complications ensue, including love (of course!)
- Lots of aspiring authors out there. Any advice for them?
To become a better writer, you must write. Sounds simple, but I know so many aspiring authors who get stuck in their own head. They plot and make inspiration boards and talk about writing, but when the fingers hit the keyboard, they get mired in doubts. Just get the words down. They don’t have to be perfect; they don’t even have to be good, but you can’t fix a blank page!
- How is A Highlander Walks into a Bar different from your other books?
While it’s still a Southern small town romance, it has a definite rom-com vibe. Expect low angst and lots of laughs! I love to read reviews where they reader has literally laughed out loud at several points.
- I know asking someone’s all-time favorite book is a loaded question so what’s your current favorite read?
Two series I have loved lately are Katherine Arden’s Winternight Trilogy (a fantasy retelling weaving medieval Russian history and folklore) and Deanna Raybourn’s Veronica Speedwell’s mysteries (a Victorian butterfly hunter teams up with a taxidermist to solve mysteries. I mean, seriously, how can you beat that combo?!)
- Alright, the ultimate question: why should we read your book?
If you need a pick-me-up, good-time, laugh-out-loud book, then read A Highlander Walks into a Bar!
- Favorite quote or scene you wrote in A Highlander Walks into a Bar?
As the woman continued to stare at him as if he were the bearer of the bubonic plague, his smile faltered. He stuck out a hand. “I’m Alasdair Blackmoor.”
Although he registered a split-second hesitation on her part, she took his hand. “Isabel Buchanan.”
Her handshake was firm and no-nonsense, but her palm was soft and her hand small in his. On closer inspection, her eyes striated into all different shades of brown and amber, and freckles dusted her cheeks. He hung on to her hand for too long, but couldn’t seem to pry himself away.
Breaking the spell, she wrested her hand from his, pulling it into a fist. Was she planning on throat-punching him? He rubbed his neck and took a step back, out of the radius of her magnetic energy, and her reach. On her approach, she’d seemed birdlike, insignificant even, but up close, he was having a hard time not staring like a first-class prat.
He was punch-drunk with exhaustion. It was the only logical explanation.
She stuck her hands into the back pockets of her jeans, stretching her red V-neck T-shirt tight. His gaze dipped instinctively and then stuck around to read the print on the pocket over the soft curve of her left breast: Highland. The Heart of Scotland in the Blue Ridge.
She cleared her throat. His gaze shot to hers, and he blinked to try to refocus his thoughts. “I was admiring . . . I mean, reading your shirt.”
“It’s not a novel.”
His face heated. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d blushed this hot and fierce.
Q&A with Laura Trentham
- What inspired you to become a writer?
I’ve always been (and still am) a huge reader. My youngest child started preschool and I wasn’t ready to go back to work in what I’m trained for (chemical engineering) so I sat down one morning and started writing a book. I didn’t tell anyone what I was doing until I was around halfway done and loving every minute! That book became a Golden Heart finalist, got me an agent, and is published as An Indecent Invitation, a Regency historical.
- What is a typical writing day like?
During the school year, I work while the kids are in school. I love the flexibility of being there to pick my kids up and drive them to soccer or gymnastics or chaperoning field trips, etc.
- Do you have any interesting writing quirks or habits?
My only habit is a bad one in that I drink *way* too much coffee while I’m writing! It’s become a ritual, I suppose.
- What has been one of the most surprising things you’ve learned as a published author?
How slow the industry can move, but also how quickly changes have come because of indie publishing.
- Can you tell us about what’s coming up next after this for you writing wise?
For my contemporary fans, I have my second women’s fiction releasing early February 2020, An Everyday Hero. The second book in the Highland, Georgia, series, A Highlander in a Pickup, releases late February 2020.
For my historical romance fans, look out for A Wicked Wedding in the Once Upon a Christmas Wedding anthology releasing in October 2019. And two more full length books in the Spies and Lovers series, A Sinful Surrender and A Daring Deception, coming sometimes in mid to late 2020!
- How can readers connect with you online?
Or join my reader group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1733284316920632/
Sign up for my newsletter: https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/w7o6b1
Follow me on Bookbub for new release or sale announcements: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/laura-trentham