Sunday, August 4, 2019

A Highlander Walks Into a Bar by Laura Trentham - New Release and Review

A Highland Walks Into a Bar
by Laura Trentham
Series: Highland, Georgia, #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: July 30, 2019

The timeless romance, soaring passion—and gorgeous men—of Scotland comes to modern-day America. And the rules of love will never be the same…

Isabel Buchanan is fiery, funny, and never at a loss for words. But she is struck speechless when her mother returns from a trip to Scotland with a six-foot-tall, very handsome souvenir. Izzy’s mother is so infatuated by the fellow that Izzy has to plan their annual Highland Games all by herself. Well, not completely by herself. The Highlander’s strapping young nephew has come looking for his uncle…

Alasdair Blackmoor has never seen a place as friendly as this small Georgia town—or a girl as brilliant and beguiling as Izzy. Instead of saving his uncle, who seems to be having a lovely time, Alasdair decides he’d rather help Izzy with the Highland Games. Show her how to dance like a Highlander. Drink like a Highlander. And maybe, just maybe, fall in love with a Highlander. But when the games are over, where do they go from here?

From A Highlander Walks into a Bar. Copyright © 2019 by Laura Trentham and reprinted with permission from St. Martin’s Paperbacks.

Chapter One

“I brought home a surprise!” Rose Buchanan threw her arms out wide as if embracing the world. From the stories she told to the way she entered the room, Rose was exuberant and entertaining and enjoyed being the center of attention.

Isabel Buchanan, who was perfectly content on the fringes, pushed her wavy hair off her sticky forehead with hands that trembled from the nightmare drive through Atlanta to the airport to pick up her mom. Her mom’s trip to Scotland had doubled as both research and vacation. The jammed stop-and-go traffic had left Izzy flustered and already dreading their exit from the airport.

Rolling her stiff shoulders, Izzy stepped around the bumper of the car, popping the trunk open on the way. Her mom had a beautiful plaid scarf of greens and browns and blues tossed over her shoulder and what appeared to be new earrings. Either purchase might inspire her mother to gush, and she would expect reciprocal gushing from Izzy. Making an educated guess, Izzy asked, “Are those earrings your surprise?”

Without waiting for an answer, she hauled one of her mom’s giant wheeled suitcases closer and prepared to heave it into the back. The sooner they got out of Atlanta, the sooner she could get back to work planning the High- land festival. Or she might pour an extra-large glass of wine and escape into a book. A guilty pleasure, considering how much she still had to get in order in three scant weeks.

“Allow me, please.” A bearded man who had been rolling cases to the curb stepped forward with a grin and an accent Izzy couldn’t place.

She checked her pockets and winced. No cash to tip the man, and no hope her mom had thought of something so inconsequential.

“Do you like them? They’re hammered silver.” Her mom flipped her bobbed matching silver hair to the side and displayed one earring with her fingers. “And as a matter of fact, I did buy them from a lovely shop in Edinburgh, but I brought something bigger home. Something more exciting.”

“Your scarf? It’s lovely.” Izzy gave her mom limited attention while she watched the man load suitcase after suitcase into her trunk, fitting them together like a puzzle. More luggage than her mom had left with. She waved to catch the man’s attention. “Hang on. That’s not all my mom’s stuff.”

For the first time, Izzy really looked at the man. He was close to her mom in age, and good-looking in a bear-like way with a gleaming white smile highlighted by a salt-and-pepper beard. His full head of hair was a shade darker, but graying heavily at the temples. The expression on the man’s face when he looked in her mom’s direction—a mix of adoration and amusement—cleared the fog of confusion.

Lord have mercy, her mother had brought back a six- foot, two-hundred-pound-plus souvenir from Scotland.

With a quirky heroine and a couple of sexy Scots, this was a fun read that had a whole lot of laughs wrapped up in a bunch of heart.

I really loved Isabel and all of her quirkiness. She’s never been able to fully engage her filter and is prone to saying exactly what she is thinking, which at times can be quite embarrassing for her. She is still saddled with the insecurities from her youth and has a hard time seeing herself as the competent, smart, and beautiful woman that she is. Alasdair is a bit uptight and all business – until he meets Isabel and begins to see all things that have been missing from his life. He is her perfect complement, and I loved how these to were perfect for each other – accepting each other as they are but also allowing each other to see things in themselves with a new light and helping each other realize what they truly want out of life.
“Are you tryin’ to discover what’s under my kilt, lassie?” His Scottish brogue was an octave lower and rough, sending a shiver through her.

“I could feel what was under it pressed against me on the stairs. I want more.”

Alasdair mutter a curse tinged with awe. “I didn’t peg you for a dirty talker.”

“You think that’s dirty? You’d be shocked to hear what kind of foolishness goes on in my head then.”

“I can’t wait to be scandalized.” His hand crawled up her back to fiddle with her industrial-strength bra strap. “Jesus. You’re not wearing a chastity belt requiring a key too, are you?

No embarrassment, only urgency surfaced. “No chastity belt. But I should warn you, it’s been so long I might have been re-virginized.”
I think my favorite part of the book was the relationship between Isabel and her mother, Rose, and Alasdair and his uncle, Gareth. Isabel has never really established an adult relationship with her mother and I loved watching that happen over the course of the book. And I loved Rose’s outlook on life and her ability to accept and move on as events unfolded. Alasdair and Gareth have been estranged, and it was nice to see them rekindle their close relationship from Alasdair’s youth, and I especially loved how Gareth helped Alasdair come to terms with his past.

Highlands, Georgia looks to be the setting for some fun books. The epilogue gave a hint to the next story and I can’t wait to see what is in store for Anna. There are many other characters that were introduced in this first book and I can only imagine the fun backdrop that Highland and its Scottish festival will play as this series unfolds.

Laura Trentham has a wonderful writing style that is easy to read and contains heart, heat, and humor. Her dialogue between characters and the scenes she creates for them are always entertaining and keep the stories interesting and the plot moving forward. This book moved a little slow in the beginning, mostly since it was setting up the background for not just the story but the series, but once the backdrop was sent, the characters took over and the story really came to life.

I would definitely recommend this one since it had a bit of everything that I love in a romance.

Laura Trentham is an award-winning author of contemporary and historical romance, including Then He Kissed Me and The Military Wife. She is a member of RWA, and has been a finalist multiple times in the Golden Heart competition. A chemical engineer by training and a lover of books by nature, she lives in South Carolina.

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