Publish Date: 2 Dec
Reviewed by: E
How I got this book: ARC from the publisher via Netgalley
Gleann, New Hampshire’s annual highland games always deliver the best of Scottish culture—rowdiness, rugby, whiskey, and unexpected romance…
Even though Shea Montgomery’s swanky bar and distinguished palate have made her a highly regarded whiskey connoisseur, she’s happiest bringing her favorite spirit to various highland games around New England. Her demanding ex made her wary of men obsessed with money and status, and she’s now more comfortable in the country than in the city. Still, when a gorgeous rugby player straight from Wall Street barrels into her whiskey tent, she’s tempted to change her mind…
J.P. Byrne went from poor beginnings to international high roller by using his charisma and wit, and holding fast to his dreams. A strong, independent woman like Shea is exactly what he’s looking for, only he has no idea how to prove he’s more than his three-piece suits—especially when he’s spent years doing just the opposite.
But as Shea and Byrne battle old demons, they discover together that the best remedy for past pain is a good, stiff shot of present pleasure…
This blurb came from the author’s website.
BP Note: In conjunction with this review Hanna Martine is sponsoring a giveaway of a print copy of The Good Chase open to the US only. Details are at the end of the review.
Last October I decided to take a chance and follow Martine from PNR/Fantasy romance where I found her to contemporary with the first book in her Highland Games series, Long Shot, and I really enjoyed it. So I was pleased to be able to take a look at the second novel. I was also looking forward to reading this story because it was about two people who struck sparks off each other and seemed to be entirely ill-suited during their previous meeting. I certainly enjoyed Martine proving my thoughts wrong.
Shea was the owner of an exclusive successful whisky bar but she had the most fun with a whisky tasting tent set up at one of the regional Highland Games. There she felt like she could introduce what she loves to anyone who is willing to try. Yet there were risks with the weekend events such as the situation in Long Shot, when she first met Bryne as he helped save her stock from a herd of wandering cattle. Shea also had to continually fight to be considered a professional and an expert in an area usually dominated by older men so she held herself to a rather high standard of personal conduct. She was also fighting the ghosts of her past but they kept reappearing at inopportune moments.
Bryne appeared to be a contradiction. A dirty, literally covered in dirt, amateur rugby player who had the ready cash money to buy four, at $100 each, whisky tasting wrist bands and to savor the liquid gold like a connoisseur. As I got to know Bryne a bit more, it was almost like he lived in two different worlds. One, the land of the wealthy complete with maid service, tailored clothes, and a large place in an exclusive neighborhood. The other, that of a more common man crammed in a van or sharing a campsite with other members of his rugby team in well-worn comfortable casual clothes. Yet both sides while good at heart had a very hard time expressing what he felt by word or action without it coming across wrong. Gradually I started to see his past was also very much present and colored almost everything in his life.
I really enjoyed the tension and interaction between Shea and Bryne even when I wanted to alternately shake them or hug them as their past intruded in what they were trying to build. Both Shea and Bryne had their blind spots and sensitive areas but they were willing to work, apologize if need be and keep trying. Some of the personal lessons and self-maturation they underwent were extremely moving and tugged at my heart strings. I loved watching Shea shed the last of the strings to her past while Bryne learned less was sometimes more.
Martine certainly proved the magic I enjoyed a year ago still existed in her Highland Games series. I don’t have any guesses about the next set of characters, well maybe I do but that would be a spoiler, regardless I certainly hope she plans to continue in this world. The characters, their struggles, the setting, and Martine’s delivery all add up to create something, which sucks me in from the very beginning. I can’t wait to see what she creates next.
I give The Good Chase an A-
BP Note: As mentioned at the beginning along with this review Hanna Martine is sponsoring a giveaway. The prize is one paperback copy of The Good Chase to anyone in the US. Winner will be announced on Wed the 26th. To enter leave a comment talking about what food/drink you would most like learn about at a tasting event. Good luck