It was a real pleasure to welcome Lizzie Lamb as my guest here on Being Anne back in November as part of a feature on Celtic Roots – you can read her lovely post again here. Although Lizzie has long been one of my party companions of choice, I’d never actually read one of her books – but I’ve finally put right that dreadful omission. With eager anticipation (and just a little shiver of trepidation), I picked up her latest book, Girl in the Castle, available for kindle and in paperback… and I’m delighted to report that I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Her academic career in tatters, Dr Henriette Bruar needs somewhere to lay low, plan her comeback and restore her tarnished reputation. Fate takes her to a remote Scottish castle to auction the contents of an ancient library to pay the laird’s mounting debts. The family are in deep mourning over a tragedy which happened years before, resulting in a toxic relationship between the laird and his son, Keir MacKenzie.
Cue a phantom piper, a lost Jacobite treasure, and a cast of characters who – with Henri’s help, encourage the MacKenzies to confront the past and move on with their lives. However – will the Girl in the Castle be able to return to university once her task is completed, and leave gorgeous, sexy Keir MacKenzie behind?
It’s fair to say, I think, that there are times when many of us enjoy a story with slightly softer edges – but that more gentle read still has to have a good story, well drawn characters, a realistic bit of love interest, a few twists and turns to the story to keep you hooked, plenty to bring a smile to your face, and it must be well written. This lovely book delivered absolutely everything I hoped for.
Henri is a wonderfully feisty heroine with a slightly murky past: “gorgeous, sexy” Keir isn’t initially the man of anyone’s dreams, but I so enjoyed discovering his hidden depths. The supporting characters are excellent too – Alice the housekeeper (with her own secrets), curmudgeonly (and very funny) Lachlan, the lascivious Sir Malcolm, and the element of complication to things running smoothly added by Alex and Ciarstaidh MacKenzie-Grieves.
The setting was wonderful – the unconventional access arrangements for the castle, the changing faces of the loch perfectly described, the castle itself vivid in every detail. Heavens, I could sometimes hear the phantom piper too. And although I must admit that I’m rarely a fan of accent and dialect being conveyed in dialogue, in this book it was so well done, so totally appropriate, that I really couldn’t imagine it being done in any other way.
I’m so delighted to have discovered Lizzie’s writing at long last. It may be my first, but it certainly won’t be my last – I enjoyed this book very much.
My reading e-copy of this book was my own, purchased via Amazon.
About the author
If you have a dream – go for it. Life is not a rehearsal. After teaching my 1000th pupil and working as a deputy head teacher in a large primary school, I decided it was time to leave the chalk face and pursue my first love: writing. In 2006 I joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme, honed my craft and wrote Tall, Dark and Kilted (2012), quickly followed a year later by Boot Camp Bride (2013) and Scotch on the Rocks (2015) – finalist, The Exeter Book Prize. I love the quick fire interchanges between the hero and heroine in the old black and white Hollywood movies, and I hope this love of dialogue and the meet-cute comes across in my writing.
I am a proud founding member of the indie publishing group: New Romantics Press and have hosted Author Events at Waterstones High Street, Kensington, and Aspinall, St Pancras, London and raised funds for local Cancer Awareness charities. As for the years I spent as a teacher, they haven’t quite gone to waste as I am building up a reputation as a speaker on the subject of self-publishing and how to craft and finish your novel!
New Romantics Press links