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 she 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…
This blurb came from the author’s website.
I found Martine when I started hearing some buzz about the first story of The Elementals, Liquid Lies. After reading it and the next installment, Martine joined my autobuy list. While I was at Romantic Times Book Convention this past May I learned that she was starting a contemporary series and I knew that I had to give it a try. After I found out that it involved the Highland Games I really wanted a copy. Somewhere a picture might be floating around of me participating in an event during a Highland Games. So when I saw Long Shot was available for review I had to request a copy.
On the surface, this was a story of a woman returning to her hometown in an attempt to rescue the failing town. There she ran across her old boyfriend and discovered that there was a lot more than rescuing a town in her future. Underneath, Martine created a very tangled web of family, emotion, history, old-familiar habits, and self-protection. Some of the characters were caught in that web while others had broken free and were continuing to spin a new reality in the old place. I really enjoyed the additional depth that Martine included because it elevated the tropes she used and kept me invested.
Jen had some issues. She was so driven and focused on both escaping her past and trying to make up for it that business came before family. Yes, she regretted those decisions and always planned to make up for them but she always made the same choice. In fact, a couple of occasions when I thought she had made that final step she reverted back to form. I did really like how she was good at her chosen profession and willing to do everything possible to save the town despite their less than welcoming atmosphere.
Leith had his issues as well. He was finally planning on leaving his dying hometown to start anew but he was also holding onto old emotional baggage. He was really good at using his hometown hero status to smooth the way for Jen but that same status made him extremely uncomfortable. His discomfort was evident but he refused to open up emotionally enough to explain why or to participate in the sport that was once an integral part of his life. He wanted Jen to be open to considering the possibility that people had changed, and she could change along with them but he didn’t want to risk changing.
One of the other things that I really enjoyed was how each person pointed things out to the other that opened them to the possibility of a different viewpoint. It wasn’t until much later in the story that the gloves came off and some harder truths were brought up. In each case it seemed as if the point was made and the other person left to decide what they were going to do. I liked that they appeared to be free of manipulative techniques because that indicated that both Jen and Leith respected the other person’s ability to think and make decisions. This gave me a lot of hope for their relationship as I was reading and wondering how they would manage to get to a Happy For Now (HFN) if not a Happy For Ever (HEA).
I also loved the big scene at the end! Both Jen and Leith had worked through some of their issues but Jen had the most to do to prove that she had changed. I have been known to complain about the lack of a big scene or a grovel when I felt it was required, so to see everything that Jen did, not only was I caught up emotionally, I did a little happy chair dance. This was an enjoyable read made even more so by the supporting cast interactions. I am looking forward to the sequel because I think the contrast between the hero and heroine will be very entertaining. With this new series, I am very glad to say Martine continues to hold my interest.
I give Long Shot a B.