After being part of the book blitz fanfare on publication day (you’ll find that post here), it’s a real pleasure today to join the blog tour for Harper’s Highland Fling, the latest book from the wonderful Lizzie Lamb, now available both for kindle (free to read via Kindle Unlimited) and in paperback. My thanks to Kelly at Love Books Tours for the invitation and support, and to the author for my advance reading copy.
After a gruelling academic year, head teacher Harper MacDonald is looking forward to a summer holiday trekking in Nepal.
However, her plans are scuppered when wayward niece, Ariel, leaves a note announcing that she’s running away with a boy called Pen. The only clue to their whereabouts is a footnote: I’ll be in Scotland.
Cue a case of mistaken identity when Harper confronts the boy’s father, Rocco Penhaligon, and accuses him of cradle snatching her niece and ruining her future. At loggerheads, Harper and Rocco set off in hot pursuit of the teenagers, but the canny youngsters are always one step ahead. And, in a neat twist, it is the adults who end up in trouble, not the savvy teenagers.
Fasten your seatbelt for the road trip of your life! It’s going to be a bumpy ride!
Well, I think I’ll pin my colours to the mast with this one at outset – I loved every moment. I knew I was going to from the moment Rocco Penhaligon emerged from under that car he was working on, all dirty and hot and sweaty – I’ve always been rather a pushover for wild corsairs – and I fell for him straight away. It takes Harper MacDonald a 713 mile road trip to feel quite the same way – and it did take me a while to warm to her too, all superior and buttoned up in her business suit, executive headteacher of the federation of the Three Pols village schools, about to depart on her three-week walking tour of Nepal. Two very different people thrown together by the flight of their teenagers – Harper’s niece Ariel, Rocco’s son Pen – reluctantly and uneasily united in pursuit.
They could so easily have been stereotypes, but they never are – both have rich back stories that gradually emerge, and considerably more emotional depth than you might initially expect. The spark of attraction between them slowly grows – very slowly, as they fight against it with dogged determination, focused on the task at hand – and I really loved the parry and thrust of their every exchange, the most wonderfully written dialogue that really sparkles and fizzes throughout.
The road trip itself, starting in Cornwall with a few detours and false leads, is excellent – first in borrowed leathers on a restored Bonneville motor bike (with definitely no room for Harper’s Mulberry luggage) and then in a leaky and failing jeep, with a few stops and encounters along the way that provide insights into their characters and background.
At first, their final destination looks like Gretna – hopefully in the nick of time – but they find they’re thrown together for rather further than that. I’ll admit that Plockton in the Highlands has been on my bucket list for a while now, and I thoroughly enjoyed this visit – the author draws it quite perfectly, with its tight community, its micro-climate replete with gardens and palm trees. But the climate’s also changing in their relationship – things really start to sizzle, their edges begin to distinctly soften, and they find that being thrown together might just not be quite the dreadful experience they were both determined it was going to be.
As romances go, I have to say that this book delivered absolutely everything I wanted – so superbly written, driven forward by that wonderful dialogue, and with a perfect emotional touch – and although the main thrust of the story is all about that chemistry between Rocco and Harper it’s only enhanced by the introduction of a few additional really well drawn characters. And I haven’t mentioned the humour – so well judged, making it a story you read with a smile on your face throughout, although it’s certainly not lacking in moments of real poignancy too.
I came late to Lizzie Lamb’s books, but I’m so glad I discovered her writing – this was a story I thoroughly enjoyed, from the very beginning to its perfect end. This was my favourite of hers so far – and really highly recommended.
About the author
With Scottish, Irish, and Brazilian blood in her veins, it’s hardly surprising that Lizzie Lamb is a writer. She even wrote extra scenes for the films she watched as a child and acted out in the playground with her friends. She is ashamed to admit that she kept all the good lines for herself. Luckily, she saves them for her readers these days.
Lizzie’s love of writing went on hold while she pursued a successful teaching career, finishing up as a Deputy Headteacher of a large primary school. Since deciding to leave the profession to realise her dream of becoming a published novelist, Lizzie hasn’t looked back. She wrote Tall, Dark and Kilted – which echoes her love of her homeland in every page, not to mention heroes in kilts – and published it. Lizzie loves the quickfire interchange between the hero and heroine – like in old black and white Hollywood movies – and hope this comes over in her writing.