|From Hanna Martine, author of the Elementals novels A Taste of Ice and Liquid Lies, comes the debut of a brand-new series set in a small town where the Highlands come alive...|
Jen Haverhurst is on the verge of becoming a partner in New York City’s top event-planning company when her sister calls begging for help. The New Hampshire town of Gleann—where they spent many happy childhood summers—is in danger of losing its main attraction, the Highland Games. Jen reluctantly agrees to take over running the Games, as well as helping with their aunt’s failing B&B. But she didn’t count on Leith MacDougall.
Before Jen left town ten years ago, Leith was a summer friend who grew into something much more. Since then, he’s become a legend of the Highland Games, winning three years in a row. Now retired, he’s just about ready to skip town to chase his own dreams of success.
But when Jen tries to convince Leith to stick around and help revive the Games, their youthful romance is revived into a very grown-up Highland affair...
Jen and Leith were best friends when she started coming to Gleann during the summer with her sister when she was growing up. Their friendship turned into young love, but Jen didn’t return Leith’s feelings when she up and left for college without a word. She had a ton to prove to herself all because of a bad relationship with her mother and she was driven to go to college and be the best in her profession. She lost touch with Leith and the small town of Gleann that she loved growing up but when her sister, who moved there, calls and asks for her help she can’t say no. The small town’s economy is suffering and the annual Highland Games that bring in much needed money from tourists is on the verge of being cancelled. Jen takes time off from her demanding event planning job in New York to come try to revamp the games and help Gleann.
Leith is one of the businessmen impacted by the bad economy. His landscaping business is going under and he’s starting to look in other locations to restart his business. But he’s having a hard time letting go of Gleann because of the connection the town has to his late father. Leith hasn’t dealt with his grief over losing his dad, his only family, and it’s weighing on him. He stopped competing in the Highland Games, it was something that he would do with his dad, he hasn’t even been able to go in and clear out his dad’s house even though he’s been gone for years. Leith has also never been able to forget about Jen, his first and only love, so when he finds out that she’s back in town, he can’t stay away.
I found the first half of the book to be very engaging. It was easy to picture this small, struggling town and understand the impact that the Games have on Gleann. Both Jen and Leith are interesting characters. Jen’s a workaholic and she’s trying to juggle her New York job, a job where she’s fighting for a promotion, with helping Gleann. She starts to find her attention and especially her heart divided as she falls back into this small town and finds other ways to help the people generate new interest in the town all year long and not just around the Highland Games.
Leith was so easy to feel for. Where Jen comes off a little harder, more driven and we learn why when we find out about her upbringing, Leith just made me want to hug him. He has no family, he has a business that’s suffering and he should have left Gleann years ago, but he can’t get over the death of his father. He ends up having a scene that brought tears to my eyes when he finally starts to deal with his grief and start to move on. Leith’s romance with Jen felt a little understated, but not in a bad way. I liked seeing them fall back into being friends, close friends that caused mischief and mayhem when they were younger and still had that fun factor in their friendship years later. Their romance just fell back into place and while nice, it didn’t stand out as being front and center. The story really focused on their careers, how their relationship was going to work with Jen being in New York and Leith trying to find his new business location and their roles in getting the Highland Games off the ground and making it a success.
The second half of the story dragged a little for me. There was a lot of buildup for the Highland Games but we really don’t see much of it on page. In fact, we get more details about the actual events through a different competition at the end of the book. But I’m a sucker for a small town setting and I thought Gleann was charming on page and I liked the people we meet including Jen’s sister, Leith’s friend from out of town and an interesting whiskey expert who does a favor for Jen in attending the Games and might have met her match with a Rugby player who can’t take his eyes off her.
While I do wish the second half the book would have captured my attention as much as the first half did, I did enjoy the story, especially getting to know Leith and seeing him start to move his life forward. The romance didn’t wow me, but the relationship between Jen and Leith starting as friends and ending as lovers was sweet and their HEA was satisfying.
Release Date: October 1, 2013
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*eARC provided by publisher for review*