(How to Marry a Highlander, #1)
Genre: Contemporary Romance
American lass seeks brawny Scot...
As if being newly single isn’t brutal enough, Sloane Chatfield’s friends are getting obnoxious about setting her up. When Sloane insists she’s waiting for a certain sexy fictional Highlander to come along, her friends surprise her with a trip to Scotland to find her a new boyfriend. She’d rather have a root canal. But if she can find a Highland hunk to “break her heart” before her friends arrive…
In a remote Highland village, Galen Buchanan is struggling to keep the family pub afloat. Everything is falling apart, he’s running out of money, and now there’s an opinionated American lass parked at his best table, driving him mad. But then Sloane asks Galen to be her pretend Highland boyfriend…and offers him enough money to save the pub. It’s only for a few days, he figures. What’s the worst that could happen?
Contemporary romances aren’t my usual fare but Julia London’s pairing of a prim American heroine, a hunky Scottish hero, a charming Scottish setting, some great secondary characters, plenty of humour and a sexy romance made this most enjoyable.
It’s impossible not to like Galen. He’s handsome, sexy and funny…a winning combination. He’d given up an unsatisfying career in agricultural law to return home to the small village of Gairloch to run the Black Thistle, the local pub. When his grandfather died, the family had wanted to sell the pub but it was where he had grown up and it represented everything that had been good about his life. He sees it as the family legacy and I like his determination to keep the pub going. He obviously cares about the village and the villagers. So when he doesn’t have the necessary funds for repairs that are desperately needed to the pub, Galen finds himself accepting a strange proposition from the prim and opinionated American woman who has been frequenting his pub recently.
Sloane’s self-worth takes a real blow when she is jilted by her fiancé who accuses her of being a “cold fish”. She has all sorts of insecurities about herself and the last thing she wants is her well-meaning friends trying to fix her up with a new man. She has the perfect plan to derail their schemes…a fictitious holiday in Scotland…only to find it becomes a reality when her friends insist on going too! Sloane reverts to plan B – fly to Scotland earlier; announce she has found her own highland “hottie”; break up with said boyfriend; cue one broken heart…no more meddling friends. Great plan or it would be if her friends weren’t going to arrive earlier than expected. Sloane is desperate to find a temporary Scottish boyfriend and the only possible candidate seems to be the shaggy-haired, local pub owner.
I do love an opposites attract theme because it generally leads to some witty dialogue and amusing scenes as the hero and heroine each try to get the upper hand. The initial bickering between Galen and Sloane is delightful…
“Can you cook?”
“Cook? I’m not going as your slave.”
“You’re going as my girlfriend, aye? My girlfriends cook. They can dig a ditch and they donna fear getting dirty.They donna worry about fingernails and hair. My girlfriends desire only to please me.”
“Well, that certainly answers the mystery of why you don’t have one,” she said, and folded her arms.
It was fun watching city girl Sloane coping with life in the Scottish Highlands. I had to laugh when she and Galen are riding out to repair a fence on Galen’s brother’s place and Sloane appears wearing jodhpurs and an equestrian shirt. Then there’s the bath scene which is hilarious.
I enjoyed the slow building romance between them. They actually talk and begin to enjoy each other’s company and Galen is surprised to realise he actually likes Sloane.
He liked her. How was that possible? He was a practical man, a no-nonsense man. But he liked her grit and good cheer when he made her work on the fence. He liked her determination to live up to her part of the bargain. He liked her smile and her bum and the way her eyes shone with delight at the strangest things.
It’s also a journey of self-discovery for Sloane from which she emerges a much stronger and more emotionally stable person. It was satisfying to see her enjoying life again and falling in love with not only Galen but also with everything around her.
It was all so delicious. All of it. The sea, the scenery, the man.
The secondary characters – Sloane’s interfering friends, the assorted regulars at the Black Thistle and Galen’s family – all add vibrancy to the story.
My only gripe was Galen’s Scottish dialect. I found myself concentrating on the actual words rather than what was being said and, at times, this pulled me out of the story. It’s a personal preference but I would rather the speech were written with just the hint of an accent. However, this is only a minor point and overall it didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the story.
My Verdict: Fun, entertaining and romantic. The perfect holiday read.
REVIEW RATING: 4/5 STARS
SENSUALITY RATING: WARM
Read July 2015
**I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Entangled Publishing: Lovestruck, in return for an honest review.**