50 Shades of Monarch of the Glen

‘Highland Games’ by Evie Alexander

A fiery heroine, a Scottish god, a cabin, a castle, and enough heat to warm the coldest Scottish winter…

Highland Games is an unputdownable, enemies-to-lovers, romantic comedy, with sparkle and sizzle and a guaranteed happy ending. This sexy, witty, debut from Evie Alexander will have you laughing, swooning, and staying up way past your bedtime…

Perfect for fans of Sally ThorneTalia Hibbert, Sophie Kinsella, and Helen Hoang. If you’re looking for a riotous romantic comedy with plenty of heat, then Highland Games is for you!

♥♥♥ Welcome to Kinloch, and the hottest winter Scotland’s ever seen. ♥♥♥

Zoe’s always played it safe, just as her parents wanted. But when her great-uncle dies and leaves her a ramshackle cabin in the Scottish Highlands, she decides it’s time to change her life.

Upping sticks seems like a good idea in her cosy flat in London, but the reality is very different. There’s no electricity or running water, the roof leaks and there’s no front door. If that wasn’t bad enough, she’s moved up in the depths of winter and her scorching hot neighbour wants her out.

Rory’s got a fifty thousand tonne problem. If he can’t make Kinloch castle profitable, he’s out of a job. He needs a clear head, but there’s someone living in the cabin he saw as his own and she’s turned his world upside down.

Rory needs Zoe out of Scotland, and out of his life. The trouble is, she has no intention of leaving.

Let the games begin…

Some books come with a bit of a health warning for me as a reader. I am a book blogger based in the Highlands – coincidentally located about an hour of Inverness as is the setting for this novel.

So, when Evie Alexander’s novel came across my door I was curious to see how she was going to handle the Englishwoman incoming to the Highlands – because, spoiler alert, incomers are not always universally welcomed up here.

Again, I should know, I am one. And there are plenty of my fellow compatriots who would do well to learn to shut their yaps.

So, aside from spending a vast amount of time trying to geolocate Alexander’s model for the village of Kinloch (unsuccessfully, you know I think this might be fiction?) I can tell you that Highland Games is a delight. Oh and that Zoe is exactly the sort of heroine who would be welcomed in the north.

Yes, she has the unrealistic expectations of how much it will cost to do up her dilapidated semi-bothy hovel that many do, but she also wants to fit in and respects the people and the location.

Alexander captures beautifully the warmth of Highland hospitality and the near food coma a visit to a local family can induce. She also captures something of the sadness of many of the country estates which are falling to wrack and ruin.

Obviously, what she is also does is weave a cinematic will-they/they-definitely-will-but-it’s-just-a-matter-of-time-until-they-get-over-themselves romance between free spirited Zoe and preposterously hunky, good with his hands – in every sense – Rory.

Honestly, the description was like looking in a mirror. We all look like that up here.

‘Highland Games’ does have the same issue which novels of this form and genre have: in order to keep the protagonists away from jumping on each other, both have to be incapable of just saying how they feel and this can grow increasingly implausible. Alexander navigates this with the very effective solution of including a hefty dollop of slapstick comedy which is a delight.

Overall, ‘Highland Games’ is a debut of astonishing assuredness and I really believe that Evie Alexander will return with more novels which I hope will have the same lightness of touch, smoothly flowing dialogue and, with any luck, bucolic Highland setting.

Pre-order Link – https://amzn.to/3la37GY

Author Bio

Evie Alexander is the author of sexy romantic comedies with a very British sense of humour. She takes a method approach to her work, believing her capacity to repeatedly fail at life and love is what has given her such a rich supply of material for her writing.

Her interests include reading, eating, saving the world, and fantasising about people who only exist between the pages of her books. She lives in the West country with her family.

Website: https://eviealexanderauthor.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/eviealexanderauthor

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/eviealexanderauthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Evie_author

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/21611777.Evie_Alexander

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/evie-alexander

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/eviealexanderauthor/

Giveaway to Win a signed copy of Highland Games, Shortbread and more… (Open to UK Only)

Prize is a signed copy of Highland Games, Exclusive postcard and bookmark, Personalised heart & Shortbread

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email.

If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information.

This will be passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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Nothing Stale About These Remains

‘The Dark Remains’ by Ian Rankin and William McIlvanney

If the truth’s in the shadows, get out of the light …

Lawyer Bobby Carter did a lot of work for the wrong type of people. Now he’s dead and it was no accident. Besides a distraught family and a heap of powerful friends, Carter’s left behind his share of enemies. So, who dealt the fatal blow?

DC Jack Laidlaw’s reputation precedes him. He’s not a team player, but he’s got a sixth sense for what’s happening on the streets. His boss chalks the violence up to the usual rivalries, but is it that simple? As two Glasgow gangs go to war, Laidlaw needs to find out who got Carter before the whole city explodes.

William McIlvanney’s Laidlaw books changed the face of crime fiction. When he died in 2015, he left half a handwritten manuscript of Laidlaw’s first case. Now, Ian Rankin is back to finish what McIlvanney started. In The Dark Remains, these two iconic authors bring to life the criminal world of 1970s Glasgow, and Laidlaw’s relentless quest for truth. (Synopsis courtesy of Canongate)

Ok, I’m going to start with a caveat: never have I been more crabbit about a book review than this one.

As a Scotland-based book blogger, I have never chased harder, nor gone through so many channels or pulled as many puny strings as I have at my feeble disposal (short of messaging Rankin himself directly on social media. That just seemed icky) than I did when trying to get hold of an advanced copy of this book.

After all, I’m a middle aged white guy with a blog and I’m definitely in the top six million people in Scotland who blog about books. Don’t they know who I am?

No, they don’t. And I didn’t get a copy. And I was gutted. ‘Bugger them,’ I thought. I’m sure not having a review from me will decimate sales.

But it’s Ian Rankin. And William McIlvanney. And the audiobook is read by Brian Cox.

Ok, three of Scotland’s finest united? I crumpled like a gangster under a Jack Laidlaw interrogation.

Rankin is, in my irrelevant opinion, the best crime writer working today and joins a tiny list of authors who get bought no matter what. I have written about my admiration of Rankin’s Rebus series elsewhere, but here it bears repeating: he’s a writer who’s work I believe is going to be read in hundreds of years and outlive the ridiculous “literary” fiction which does nothing to accurately reflect its era and is dull to boot.

So, the best of the best, polishing off the original and the best in William McIlvanney.

The first piece of close reading (comprehension for those not in Scotland or of a certain vintage) I taught was an extract from ‘Laidlaw’. To this day, that novel remains a revelation in the use of simile and metaphor and the prose crackles with impactful imagery.

In these types of literary Frankensteins, it’s always tempting to spend a chunk of the novel trying to spot the joins.

The references to contemporary politics, the issues with Nixon and the creeping Americanisation of Scotland feels Rankinesqe.

Metaphors like “a hole deep enough to hold a coffin,” feels like vintage McIlvanney. I suspect this is the sort of case where I’m wrong on both counts.

But, mainly, who cares? This is the godfather being helped to posthumous glory by the pupil who became the master.

If I have a criticism, it’s actually with the production of the audiobook. The lack of spacing between chapter and even paragraph breaks means that it sounds like Cox has forgotten the words and is being rushed to catch up.

But this is a trifle and his performance is still excellent.

So, I’m pleased that I got over my mardy response to my rejections. Because this is the best in the business at the top of their game.

Highly, highly recommended.

Purchase Links

Bookshop.org

Waterstones

Authors

Ian Rankin

Born in the Kingdom of Fife in 1960, Ian Rankin graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 1982, and then spent three years writing novels when he was supposed to be working towards a PhD in Scottish Literature.

After university and before his success with his Rebus novels, Ian had a number of jobs including working as a grape-picker, a swineherd, a journalist for a hi-fi magazine, and a taxman. Following his marriage in 1986, he lived briefly in London where he worked at the National Folktale Centre, followed by a short time living in France, before returning to Edinburgh.

Ian Rankin has been elected a Hawthornden Fellow, and is also a past winner of the Chandler-Fulbright Award. He is the recipient of four Crime Writers’ Association Dagger Awards including the prestigious Diamond Dagger in 2005. In 2004, Ian won America’s celebrated Edgar Award for Resurrection Men. He has also been shortlisted for the Edgar and Anthony Awards in the USA, and won Denmark’s Palle Rosenkrantz prize, the French Grand Prix du Roman Noir and Germany’s Deutscher Krimipreis.

Ian Rankin is also the recipient of honorary degrees from the universities of Hull, Abertay, St Andrews and Edinburgh as well as The Open University. In 2019, he donated his archive of over 50 boxes of manuscripts, letters and paperwork to the National Library of Scotland.

Ian has received an OBE for services to literature, opting to receive the prize in his home city of Edinburgh, where he lives with his wife and two sons. (Biography courtesy of Hachette)

William McIlvanney

Photo by Ian Atkinson, courtesy of http://www.canongate.co.uk

William McIlvanney’s first novel, Remedy is None, won the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize and with Docherty he won the Whitbread Award for Fiction. Laidlaw and The Papers of Tony Veitch both gained Silver Daggers from the Crime Writers’ Association. Strange Loyalties, the third in the Detective Laidlaw trilogy, won the Glasgow Herald’s People’s Prize. He died in December 2015. (Biography courtesy of Canongate)

No Need to Fall Off This Log

‘Book Review Log Book’ by Jennifer Gilmour

Keep a track of your reading progress and your book reviews in one place:

  • Reading Goals
  • To Be Read List
  • Book Release Dates
  • Word Cloud
  • Your Reviews
  • Your Notes

Purchase Link – mybook.to/bookreview

Some book blog tours are such a delight to be on and Jennifer Gilmour’s Book Review Log Book is one such.

This is not an especially complicated idea: it’s a log book in which to review your book reviews. But this simplicity is its beauty. A space for notes, a space for a word cloud to record your learning from your reading, a space to print out a copy of your book cover and stick it in! It’s like a nostalgic throwback to the scrapbooks of youth.

This is a well-timed release – I can’t help but think that the book worm in your life might well appreciate this as a Christmas gift. I know I would!

Author Bio –

Jennifer Gilmour is an author and advocate for women in abusive relationships, using her own experiences of domestic abuse as a catalyst to bring awareness and to help others. Jennifer has published two publications, Isolation Junction and Clipped Wings which have both been Amazon Best Sellers and received awards. Jennifer speaks at events across the UK and continues to raise awareness through her blog posts, public speaking, radio interviews and social media.

Most Informative Blogger Award 2018 (Bloggers Bash Annual Awards)
UK & European Award for using Social Media for Good 2019 (Social Day: Social Media Marketing Awards)

Jennifer says: “Together we are Louder”.

Social Media Links –

Website; www.jennifergilmour.com  

Facebook; www.facebook.com/JenLGilmour

Twitter; www.twitter.com/JenLGilmour  

Instagram; www.instagram.com/JenLGilmour  

Amazon author profile; http://author.to/jennifergilmour  

Goodreads author profile; https://www.goodreads.com/JenniferGilmour  

Huffington post blogger profile; http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/author/jennifer-gilmour

Inheritances and Italian Amore

‘A Little Piece of Paradise’ by TA Williams

The inheritance of a lifetime… with a catch

When Sophie’s uncle leaves her a castle in the Italian Riviera in his will, she can’t believe her luck. The catch? She and her estranged sister, Rachel, must live there together for three months in order to inherit it.  

Having worked in Rome for four years, Sophie’s excited to revisit to Italy, even if it reignites memories of a cheating ex who soon learns of her return and wants to rekindle their spark. Sophie realises that distance does indeed make the heart grow fonder – but for her friend back home, Chris, who she discovers is more to her than just a friend.

With the clock ticking, can Sophie and Rachel stick it out and heal old wounds, or are the sisters destined to go their own way at the end of the three months? And does Chris feel the same way about Sophie as she does for him?

A beautiful story of romance and sisterhood, perfect for fans of Alex Brown and Lucy Coleman.

Regular readers of this blog (Oh, so you’re the one) will know that I like a nice escapist romance novel from time to time. I understand that as a man, demographically, this puts me outside the realm of the usual purchasers of such literature.

However, there is clearly at least one other fan of the genre in author TA Williams. Here, Williams has taken a fairly well trodden path – the inheritance with the millstone bequest attached – and added in the tantalising reward of an Italian villa worth over a million Euros.

The catch? Being shackled to an estranged sister for three months (shackled metaphorically, rather than literally. This becomes a very different novel if not.)

As with my favourite novels from this genre, the food is the described in great detail, the wine as enchanting as the scenery and love affairs flare up and create havoc as the principle characters navigate this taxing situation.

Between the food, the wine, the amore and the villa, this is a novel to charm the reader and its 300-odd pages zip by. Sometimes the dialogue can read as a little stilted, especially in the early chapters where the need for exposition can make some of the characters sound a little wooden, but this is a minor quibble in a novel of enormous charm and lightness of touch. Also, any novel with a character as fully rounded and obviously loved as Jeeves the Labrador is a delight and can do no wrong!

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09F5QJQDZ

US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09F5QJQDZ

Author Bio – I’m a man. And a pretty old man as well. I did languages at university a long time ago and then lived and worked in France and Switzerland before going to Italy for seven years as a teacher of English. My Italian wife and I then came back to the UK with our little daughter (now long-since grown up) where I ran a big English language school for many years. We now live in a sleepy little village in Devonshire. I’ve been writing almost all my life but it was only seven years ago that I finally managed to find a publisher who liked my work enough to offer me my first contract.

The fact that I am now writing escapist romance is something I still find hard to explain. My early books were thrillers and historical novels. Maybe it’s because there are so many horrible things happening in the world today that I feel I need to do my best to provide something to cheer my readers up. My books provide escapism to some gorgeous locations, even if travel to them is currently difficult.

Social Media Links –

Website: www.tawilliamsbooks.com

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/tawilliamsbooks

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TrevorWilliamsBooks/