It’s a delight today to be joining the publication day push and sharing my review of Love, on the Rocks by Elsie McArthur – now available for kindle (free via Kindle Unlimited) and in paperback via Amazon in the UK and US. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation and support, and to the author for my advance reading e-copy.
I do so enjoy discovering a new author who writes the kind of books I love to read. I entirely missed Elsie’s first, The Back Up Plan, but I can see some really excellent reviews – and having now discovered her lovely writing, I’m not in the least surprised.
Let’s take a closer look…
Escaping a difficult childhood, unhappy marriage and dead-end job, Rachel McIntyre has escaped to the tiny Hebridean island of Inniscreag in search of a new beginning.
Taking a job as the manager of the local distillery, she’s just settling into her new life when the elderly, eccentric owner dies, unexpectedly leaving her two hundred year old family legacy in Rachel’s inexperienced hands.
Can she keep the small, community business alive in the face of a takeover attempt from a major multinational corporation? And can she resist the charms of the flirtatious, attractive company lawyer who arrives on the island to persuade her to sell up?
Join Rachel and the quirky inhabitants of Inniscreag – along with a couple of unexpected arrivals – in this funny, heartwarming tale about love, loss and having the courage to start over.
Just sometimes (and it’s so lovely when it happens) you can tell from the first few pages that you’re reading a book you’re going to really enjoy – and this was one of those books.
The first thing that draws you in is the location – the fictional island of Inniscreag, halfway between Skye and North Uist, with its family-owned distillery (catering for the discerning customer, sadly diminishing in number) at the centre of its wonderfully drawn community. I must say that had it not been the author’s invention, I’d have been adding a visit to my bucket list – the descriptions are just wonderful, and I could really see myself pulling on my walking boots to explore off-road (you know, that one road that means you turn around at the end and come back the same way…), staying in a cosy room at Shelagh’s pub in Craigport.
And then there are the many characters. The book’s main focus is Rachel, at first managing the distillery for elderly Edith, perhaps a teeny bit out of her depth, but forever thankful that she was head-hunted from her job in hospitality and offered an escape from her rather toxic marriage. And when Rachel unexpectedly inherits the distillery and finds herself in sole charge, things begin to become really difficult – first an attempt at a hostile takeover by a large conglomerate, then another claimant to Edith’s estate who makes the future even more uncertain. And amidst it all, Rachel finds she’s attracted to Duncan (as I suspect many would be…), the company lawyer leading the hostile threat – and as if that’s not enough complication, her difficult husband then turns up too.
The whole supporting cast is wonderful. There’s a lovely focus on Rachel’s friendship with Sorcha – facing some challenges within her marriage – and vicar Una who really hopes to find some happiness of her own. But I loved the entire community – the taciturn Cameron the master blender, his wife Jenny who makes the wonderful cakes for the visitor centre, Hamish unexpectedly finding the woman of his dreams, and so many more, every one an individual with their own story.
There’s an exceptional warmth to this book and the whole community the author has created, and it was one I thoroughly enjoyed being whisked into the heart of for as long as I was reading. And may I just add how much I loved Douglas the cat? He comes and goes for his tins of tuna or to lie in the warmth awhile, but also becomes the unlikely trigger for moving on the story at one point (for a moment there, I was going to say “cat-alyst”, but that might just have been a bit cheesy!).
The central romance is excellent – strong and believable, a few well-handled bits of tension and conflict, a few real surprises and things not being quite what they seem, and a perfect touch with the increasing heat of the relationship.
The whole story is full of wonderful twists and turns – perhaps some don’t come entirely as a shock (I do have a tendency to think ahead of the story…) but they’re so well done that it really doesn’t matter one jot. The author is a natural storyteller, all the elements of the story drawn together quite perfectly, and a real pleasure to read.
I thoroughly enjoyed this one (you can tell, can’t you?), and this is an author I’ll really look forward to reading again. Highly recommended… a really lovely read.
About the author
Elsie McArthur is an independent author of women’s fiction. After studying law at university, and then re-training as a primary school teacher, she now lives in the Highlands of Scotland with her husband, two kids, a couple of badly behaved dogs and a cat with a superiority complex.
As well as continuing to work part time as a teacher, she is now indulging in her first love of writing. Her first book, The Back Up Plan, was released in January 2020. Her second novel, Love, on the Rocks – a tale of love, loss and starting over, set on the remote Scottish island of Inniscreag – is released today.