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Girl in the Castle: - a funny, heart warming highland romance Kindle Edition
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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.
This might be the first book I've read by Lizzie Lamb, but it certainly won’t be my last – I enjoyed this book very much.
As usual, Lizzie delivered a great cast. Henrietta Bruar (Henri) was an engaging heroine, arriving at the castle to catalogue the contents of the library prior to auction. The laird, Sir Malcolm MacKenzie is a bit of a devil for the ladies – even Henri wasn’t safe from his wandering hands at times! Then there’s the no nonsense Alice Dougal who cooks and manages the castle and dour, outspoken Lachlan MacKenzie who’s not at all happy with the fact the newly-arrived Dr Henri Bruar is not only female but an attractive one at that! And then, of course, there’s Keir…a definite reason to revisit those episodes of Outlander. For Henri the path of true love is destined to become slightly bumpy following the arrival of brother and sister Alex and Ciarstaidh MacKenzie-Grieves. He is a charming wastrel while with her sights firmly set on Keir she makes it clear no one is going to get in her way, especially Henri.
A wonderful read with something for everyone. Loved it!
But as the decaying books fail to yield the treasures that might save either the MacKenzie clan or her academic career, Henri finds herself in unwilling conflict with almost everyone around her, from Sir Malcolm to his staff, local residents, and especially the Laird’s estranged son and heir, Keir MacKenzie. Heir to a bankrupt estate, Keir unwillingly accepts Henri’s presence to catalog and dismantle the remainder of their once-prosperous castle. Meanwhile Henri is an unwilling observer as she watches an old tragedy continue to destroy the lives of everyone around her, while she herself keeps hearing the warning sounds of a ghostly piper.
Adding up the de rigueur gothic romance tropes—remote castle, handsome heir, beautiful young employee, jealous romantic rival, wealthy suitor, and that phantom piper—and you have all the tropes of a standard romance. But tropes exist because they work. In the hands of a talented writer like Lizzie Lamb, they aren’t cliches as much as they are building blocks, which she makes uniquely her own. For example, Henri doesn’t insist that she has no idea what men see in her with her long legs, thick blonde hair, and green eyes. Instead, she dryly cataloges the men who only see that far and miss her driving ambition. “Their second sweep often missed the stubborn line of her mouth, the determined set to her shoulders and her death stare that warned—don’t come too close, if you value your head.”
The plot-killing love triangle never emerges because Henri is correctly suspicious of the motives of her “admirer”. And most of all, the characters are allowed to develop and grow over the course of the book. When we meet them, both Henri and Keir are damaged and flawed, each trailing chains of distrust and past tragedy. Author Lizzie Lamb lets us see their pain, suspicion, and fear of giving anyone the power to inflict more hurt. I especially enjoyed Henri’s steel core of confidence in her own professional training and expertise, as well as her determination to recover her academic reputation.
I’ve always enjoyed Lizzie Lamb’s books, and especially (now that I live here myself!) those set in Scotland. She has a unique gift for creating settings and dialog that capture Scottish color, language, humor, and beauty, while realistically including the cold, the rain, and the chill of an ancient castle on a remote island. As someone who has not only lived in Scotland, but also in a medieval castle, I think she’s absolutely nailed that one. I’ve also spent a fair amount of time surrounded by academics, especially at English and Scottish institutions, and I have to say that there are a few things that don’t seem quite so authentic there. My experience of castle ghosts makes the spectral piper seem quite a bit more likely than the English university.
Overall, though, Lizzie Lamb weaves a terrific romance with all the trimmings. If you enjoy watching two flawed characters struggle through their emotional baggage while surrounded by the cadences of Scottish speech and the beauty of the Highlands—not to mention whisky, kilts, and bagpipes—I think you’ll enjoy Girl in the Castle as much as I did.
*I received this book from the publisher or author to facilitate an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.*
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