By Jennifer McQuiston
Publisher: Avon Impulse
Release Date: January 27, 2015
I'm frequently intrigued by secondary characters in the books I read and often left wondering what happens to them after the final page. Such was the case with Penelope "Pen" Tolbertson, sister of the heroine of Summer Is For Lovers and William McKenzie, brother of the hero of What Happens In Scotland. You can imagine my delight when I discovered Jennifer McQuiston's plans to write a story for the two in the novella, Her Highland Fling. I'm happy to say it more than met my expectations!
Let the Games Begin …
William MacKenzie has always been protective of his Scottish village. When Moraig's economy falters, he has the perfect solution to lure wealthy Londoners to this tiny hamlet: resurrect the ancient Highland Games! But for this to work, William knows he needs a reporter to showcase the town in just the right light.
A female journalist might be a tolerated oddity in Brighton, but newly minted reporter Penelope Tolbertson is discovering that finding respect in London is a far more difficult prospect. After receiving an invitation to cover Moraig's Highland Games, Penelope is determined to prove to her London editors just how valuable she can be.
Penelope instantly captures William's heart, but she is none too impressed with the gruff, broody Highlander; however, as she begins to understand his plans, Penelope discovers she may want more from him than just a story. She's only got a few days … but maybe a few days are all they need.
McQuiston takes an intelligent man, highly educated and well-spoken, and reduces him to a gibbering idiot at first sight of our heroine. When he's finally able to utter a welcome, he unknowingly insults her. Penelope, on the other hand, certain she's just been welcomed by the village idiot, retains her poise, dignity and ability to speak coherently, albeit slowly, so as not to tax his brain. Not an auspicious beginning for our hero and heroine...and the fun is just beginning.
Readers - and characters - are taken on a fun, fast-paced, heartwarming journey in Her Highland Fling. With witty banter, quirky secondary characters and intelligent writing, McQuiston brings us an entertaining tale with plenty of humor and heart. I've been rooting for Pen since meeting her in Summer is for Lovers. She deserves a man who will show her there's more to life than her pencils and notebooks and who will love her for who she is but first, she must learn to accept that love. I was intrigued by William in What Happens in Scotland but fell head over heels for him in Her Highland Fling. When he finally declares himself, I decided if Pen didn't want him I was ready to travel back in time and claim him for myself.
The village of Moraig is brought to life through McQuiston's words. Characters from previous books are an integral part of the story, adding richness without detracting focus from the hero and heroine. Touches of whimsy add charm while quiet moments between William and Penelope fan the flames of desire in addition to gradually deepening the emotion and feelings between them.
As I mentioned earlier, Pen and William were secondary characters in McQuiston's first two books. Do you need to have read those books in order to enjoy Her Highland Fling? No. McQuiston has crafted a humorous, sexy, whimsical, tender story that stands well on its own. Having said that, however, there are occasional references that you won't "get" without knowing the previous stories and while William and Pen are fully formed characters, knowing their back stories will only add a greater depth of richness to the people you meet in Her Highland Fling.