Every so often, I spot a book that I really want to read because I just know it’s one I’ll enjoy – that’s how I felt when I came across A Secret Scottish Escape by Julie Shackman, published as an e-book tomorrow (21st May) by One More Chapter, and available to preorder via Amazon in the UK and US. But things have been just a little busy here recently, and I really couldn’t manage to read it for a few months – but the paperback will follow on 19th August (available for preorder), and I’ve inked that date in my diary to make sure I share a review.
Let me share the description – see if it appeals to you as much as it did to me…
Escape to the beautiful Scottish Highlands for a heartwarming and feel good cosy romance that will whisk you away from lockdown!
When Scotland’s sleepiest hamlet becomes the centre of hot gossip, Layla Devlin finds herself caught in a mystery…
When Layla’s fiancée has an unexpected heart attack and dies – in another woman’s arms, no less – Layla is determined to pack up and leave Loch Harris, the village she’s always called home. But an unexpected inheritance and love for her quiet corner of Scotland send her down a new path.
Now Layla finds herself facing a whole new kind of drama. Rumours swirl that a celebrity has moved into Coorie Cottage and Layla is determined to have him headline her opening night at local music venue The Conch Club. But the reclusive star is equally determined to thwart Layla’s efforts. Rafe Buchanan is in hiding for a reason, and soon his past comes to Loch Harris to haunt him…
So, in the absence of a review, I’m delighted to welcome Julie as my guest, to tell us more about the book and its inspiration…
My favourite fairy-tale of them all is Beauty and The Beast. It has been since I was little.
The story of a young woman, falling in love with a hideous beast and realising that “Beauty comes from within” is, I think, the most enchanting and romantic of them all.
And it was this premise that gave me the idea for my latest feel-good romance, A Secret Scottish Escape.
I created both my main characters first, Layla Devlin and Mask/Rafe Buchanan. I pictured them in the gorgeous wilds of Highland Scotland. From there, I knew that Mask would be a reclusive but talented musician, struggling to cope with something from his past and finding solace in his music.
As for Layla, she would also suffer heartache and deception. Her future would be uncertain. Would she leave the beautiful Loch Harris and start over again, or would fate lead her down a different path?
I spent six months on my first draft, writing their story and losing myself in the twists and turns of their lives. The escapism I tapped into, helped a great deal during lockdown, when everyone, including me, was seeking solace in other worlds.
Once I’d spent another few weeks revising it, I fired it off to my agent in Australia. Thankfully, she liked it and following another few rounds of revisions suggested by her, she submitted it to the amazing One More Chapter, the HarperCollins imprint.
There followed an agonising wait, before their fabulous Editorial Director Charlotte Ledger replied to my agent, saying she loved my book and wished to publish.
I think we all need some sort of escapism, particularly in these odd times. For me, that is what writing feel-good romance is all about; the opportunity to travel elsewhere in our imagination.
I believe that if you as an author enjoy writing something, then the reader will immediately sense it and they will enjoy reading it. Whether influenced by an old fairy-tale or not, being in the privileged position of being an author and taking your readers with you on a magical journey, is something special.
I hope you enjoy reading the story of Layla and Mask, every bit as much as I did writing it.
Thank you Julie – this is one I’m looking forward very much to reading, and I’ll see you again on 19th August.
About the author
Julie Shackman is a former journalist from Scotland, who has always wanted to write feel-good romance. As well as being an author, she also writes verses and captions for greetings card companies.
Julie admits to having an obsession with stationery and handbags. She is married, has two sons and recently adopted a Romanian rescue puppy, who she named Cooper.
A Secret Scottish Escape is Julie’s fifth novel, out in e-book from One More Chapter on 21 May and released in paperback on 19 August.