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A Scottish Highland Surprise

A Scottish Highland Surprise, April 2022
Scottish Escapes #2
by Julie Shackman

One More Chapter
Featuring: Sophie Harkness; Xander North
300 pages
ISBN: 000853893X
EAN: 9780008538934
Kindle: B09MMZ75KL
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"China and curiosity in this Scottish romance tale"

Fresh Fiction Review

A Scottish Highland Surprise
Julie Shackman

Reviewed by Clare O'Beara
Posted June 14, 2022

Romance Small Town | Romance Chick-Lit

Castle Marrion in the Scottish town of Briar Glen is a tourism and hospitality venue. Sophie Harkness works here, managing weddings and other major events. We get a good look at what is involved and the kind of people who take her efforts for granted – from customers to co-workers – until that ends suddenly, and Sophie is left with choices. She can look for work elsewhere, or she can accept the challenge of A SCOTTISH HIGHLAND SURPRISE. This is a cosy romance story in a picturesque setting.

Thanks to an incredibly generous legacy from her dear departed grandmother, Sophie is able to open a porcelain shop in the small town. (I'd have liked a mention of the taxes on the inheritance.) Tourism will be a large part of her sales, and she doesn’t even attempt to put a website together and sell online. There isn’t any urgency because Sophie has no relationship, gets on great with her family, and hasn’t had to borrow or even compromise. This does make the tale a little flat. To add contrast, we get flashbacks to the 1970s, when the young married woman who was to become Sophie’s Gran, wishes with all her heart to defy her caring but conventional husband and work in a china and gift shop.  

An unusual, artistically painted tea set is practically dumped on Sophie, and she is pointed in the direction of art critic Xander North. Together they attempt to trace its origins and documentation, which is called provenance. Sophie is also concerned as to why the original owner doesn’t want to keep the set, when it is clearly valuable.

Some historical flashbacks to the 1900s are written in italics, as are the ‘70s memories, so I confess I didn’t read much of these, as italics are very hard on the eyes. Our heroine Sophie can do nothing to alter the history, the only outcome she can change is her own life. The romance story I found somewhat formulaic and unconvincing, as Sophie, who is so good at looking up items on line, doesn’t know much about people in a smallish community. The inspiring story of a young woman with a dream opening her own business and filling a need in society, is a welcome one. Julie Shackman has previously written several Scots-themed books including The Secret Scottish Escape. I would like more nature notes to make the most of the location. A light, feel-good romance, A SCOTTISH HIGHLAND SURPRISE contains plenty of research and good humour. I’m sure it will make many friends, and I’ll be looking out for more by the author.

Learn more about A Scottish Highland Surprise


Discover the secrets and surprises that the scenic Scottish town of Briar Glen has to offer…

The brand new Scottish romance from the bestselling author of A Secret Scottish Escape

When wedding planner Sophie Harkness refuses to move a friend’s wedding to accommodate a spoilt bridezilla, she finds herself out of a job. That is until she discovers her late grandma has purchased a local shop for her in the pretty Scottish town of Briar Glen.

Surprised and delighted, Sophie opens her own porcelain shop in honour of her grandmother. But when an unusual tea set is left with Sophie, along with a mysterious letter, she can’t help but be intrigued by the story behind the antique.

And when the handsome but aloof art critic Xander North comes knocking on her door, Sophie is about to find out the true colourful past of her latest treasure.


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