Praise for Elsie McArthur
Caroline G, Amazon Reviewer
The Back Up Plan
I was thrilled to find a new author (and a SCOTTISH one at that!) as my thirst for rom com style chick lit is never ending. I was even more chuffed to discover that Elsie McArthur delivers the same warm wit and humour as my favourites: Katie Fforde, Lindsey Kelk and Jenny Colgan.
I love reading about gorgeous scenic places, and I bloody love a good love story (who doesn't?) but I also need decent characters, with depth and guts, who are funny and relatable and live (flaws and all) firmly in the recognisable real world. I want to escape in a book, be so engrossed that I don't realise what time has passed. I want to giggle and snort out loud with laughter. Elsie McArthur definitely delivered!
As a Glasgow girl myself, I loved the glimpses of my home city woven within the story. Aside from my mental stumble over the lead characters name (as others have said, as soon as it was described in the book itself, that's the wee rhyme I said to myself each time I read her name!) I loved the characters in this book. The relationship with her family, friends and workmates rang so true to me, and reminded me of folk I know. The back and forth between Marsaili and her work mate in particular was like listening to my own friends!
This book delivered exactly what I was after - it was as funny and fierce as they come. I devoured it in 2 sittings, brilliant escapism from covid 19 lockdown. As soon as I finished it, I recommend it to numerous friends and my many aunties, which just goes to show how much I enjoyed it.
I can't wait for more from Elsie McArthur. Here's hoping lockdown has meant her next offering is on its way soon
Wendy Bayne, Author
The Back Up Plan
Just finished The Back Up Plan ...LOVED IT!
It's an emotional roller-coaster that tears at you heart strings. The characters are a blend of colourful and relatable. Set in beautiful Scotland the gorgeous Highland lass meets the London Oxford hot mess and the games begin.
Both are looking for something or someone, both have had relationship and self esteem issues. Now they are thrown together with an undeniable attraction but outside forces are determined to keep them apart.
I couldn't put it down. Each page held out the promise of something more.
Alex Mack, Amazon Reviewer
The Back Up Plan
What a surprise this book was. I picked up the book thinking it was going to be a nice little chic-lit romcom and to my delight, Ms McArthur brought forth a remarkable character named Marsaili (rhymes with parsley). There were moments when I wanted to shake Marsalis by the shoulders for some of her decisions. Yet, in the end, I was so proud of her I shouted out, “good for you, Marsaili!” McArthur’s skill in developing a character that at first glance seems a bit flighty and then moving the character into one of strength, self-respect, self-determination is a mark of great writing. The plot is uncomplicated in admirable contrast to the the complex characterization of Marsaili - and her supporting cast is well developed. The book is set in Scotland and there’s not a page that turns without the scent of highland heather or the sounds of bustling Glasgow. This exceptional debut of Ms. McArthur is a sign of things to come. A true talent has appeared on the scene.
Kirsti, Blogger at Bedside Book Review
Love, on the Rocks
I adored this Scottish romance, the second from this author. I love the way Elsie McArthur creates her main characters! Rachel McIntyre is a normal woman with the normal self deprecating thoughts that the average woman has. She’s runaway to a remote island to start over and unexpectedly inherits a distillery and finds she has to protect it from a multinational corporation and her heart from the mainland lawyer.
All the characters in this story are relatable and I quickly became invested in everyone’s story, not just the main characters.
The chemistry between Rachel and Duncan, the handsome lawyer sent on a takeover bid for the distillery, is potent from the start. Elsie has created a funny, heartfelt, light romance that also touches on poignant aspects. I laughed out loud and also had a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye at different points during the story.
Elsie McArthur has quickly become one of my favourite romance authors and I can’t wait to read what else she has in store.
Elizabeth Holland, Author
Love, on the Rocks
What a beautifully written romance to escape into. I found myself unable to put this book down as I was whisked away to the Scottish Isles. The description of the picturesque landscape was beautiful and left me pining to be there. I instantly felt connected with the characters and found myself laughing, smiling, crying and sometimes even shouting whilst reading. With lots of plot twists and a heavy dose of romance this book was everything I could possibly want in an afternoon's read.
Anne Williams, Blogger at Being Anne
Love, on the Rocks
Just sometimes (and it’s so lovely when it happens) you can tell from the first few pages that you’re reading a book you’re going to really enjoy – and this was one of those books.
The first thing that draws you in is the location – the fictional island of Inniscreag, halfway between Skye and North Uist, with its family-owned distillery (catering for the discerning customer, sadly diminishing in number) at the centre of its wonderfully drawn community. I must say that had it not been the author’s invention, I’d have been adding a visit to my bucket list – the descriptions are just wonderful, and I could really see myself pulling on my walking boots to explore off-road (you know, that one road that means you turn around at the end and come back the same way…), staying in a cosy room at Shelagh’s pub in Craigport.
And then there are the many characters. The book’s main focus is Rachel, at first managing the distillery for elderly Edith, perhaps a teeny bit out of her depth, but forever thankful that she was head-hunted from her job in hospitality and offered an escape from her rather toxic marriage. And when Rachel unexpectedly inherits the distillery and finds herself in sole charge, things begin to become really difficult – first an attempt at a hostile takeover by a large conglomerate, then another claimant to Edith’s estate who makes the future even more uncertain. And amidst it all, Rachel finds she’s attracted to Duncan (as I suspect many would be…), the company lawyer leading the hostile threat – and as if that’s not enough complication, her difficult husband then turns up too.
The whole supporting cast is wonderful. There’s a lovely focus on Rachel’s friendship with Sorcha – facing some challenges within her marriage – and vicar Una who really hopes to find some happiness of her own. But I loved the entire community – the taciturn Cameron the master blender, his wife Jenny who makes the wonderful cakes for the visitor centre, Hamish unexpectedly finding the woman of his dreams, and so many more, every one an individual with their own story.
There’s an exceptional warmth to this book and the whole community the author has created, and it was one I thoroughly enjoyed being whisked into the heart of for as long as I was reading. And may I just add how much I loved Douglas the cat? He comes and goes for his tins of tuna or to lie in the warmth awhile, but also becomes the unlikely trigger for moving on the story at one point (for a moment there, I was going to say “cat-alyst”, but that might just have been a bit cheesy!).
The central romance is excellent – strong and believable, a few well-handled bits of tension and conflict, a few real surprises and things not being quite what they seem, and a perfect touch with the increasing heat of the relationship.
The whole story is full of wonderful twists and turns – perhaps some don’t come entirely as a shock (I do have a tendency to think ahead of the story…) but they’re so well done that it really doesn’t matter one jot. The author is a natural storyteller, all the elements of the story drawn together quite perfectly, and a real pleasure to read.
I thoroughly enjoyed this one (you can tell, can’t you?), and this is an author I’ll really look forward to reading again. Highly recommended… a really lovely read.
Evie, Amazon Reviewer
A Hogmanay Kiss
Marsaili and Will are in love, but their life is not as perfect as they might have expected. They have no house of their own and must live in Marsaili's parents' home, and Marsaili's insecurities keep making her doubt Will's love. Especially when Sophie, a beautiful, slender and extremely mean solicitor arrives from Dubai to attend their friend's wedding. She will try everything possible to make the couple break up so she can be with Will...
This is a realistic and heart-warming story which many people will identify with. It's a lovely Christmas read although you could read it anytime, really. The wedding scenes are fantastic, with a multicultural Hindu-Scottish wedding taking place in the book. And of course, you get a lovely happy ending!
Nicola Smith, Blogger at Short Book and Scribes
A Hogmanay Kiss
The Back Up Plan by Elsie McArthur was one of my favourite reads of 2020 so I was thrilled to be able to catch up with Marsaili and Will again in this sequel novella.
We join the characters eighteen months after the end of the previous story when they are still looking for their own home and in the meantime are living at Marsaili’s parents’ croft in the Scottish Highlands. This doesn’t provide our lovebirds with much privacy, something that made me laugh pretty early on. They’re hoping their trip to Edinburgh over Christmas and New Year for the wedding of Marsaili’s brother will provide them with some alone time…….the best laid plans and all that.
It was such a treat to meet all the characters again. Marsaili is as fiery as usual and somewhat insecure, but she’s also incredibly kind and likeable. Will is a delight as before and I always think an author has done a fabulous job when they make their hero so delectable. I really enjoyed all the wedding celebrations too as the bride is Indian and so the ceremonies were multi-cultural.
Marsaili and Will’s original road to true love was bumpy and a snooty bridesmaid and some misunderstandings send them down another rocky road, but I’m pleased to say that the ending didn’t let me down and the ripples were smoothed out most satisfactorily. I closed the book with a smile on my face.
I loved this return visit to Scotland and I so enjoyed the relationship between the two main characters. A Hogmanay Kiss is a lovely read for this time of year, written with such warmth. It’s pure joy.