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Today on Love Books Group Blog, I am delighted to be launching the book blog tour for Girl in the Castle. We have a guest review from Kimberly Livingston.
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When did nice become politically incorrect? That is a rhetorical question obviously, I am an American after all. Recently a movie was panned for being too uplifting and not realistic (aka ugly) enough. I also know that books are being passed over for being too “nice”. I believe this world could use some more niceness in it. When I got the opportunity to read Girl in the Castle by Lizzie Lamb I was thrilled to be thrown in a world where life doesn’t always go as planned, and certainly, there is tragedy (it is life after all), but I didn’t have to survive anything uglier than jealousy and heartbreak. These I would expect in a romance novel!
Girl in the Castle weaves a wonderful modern day romantic fairy tale set in the Highlands of Scotland where even the most Sassenach reader becomes immersed in the romance and the language of the setting. I am lucky enough to have a Scottish friend who often teaches me “Scottish” phrases, but Ms. Lamb also kindly includes a glossary of terms to assist the reader. (For more assistance learning Scottish slang I highly recommend Gerard Butler’s version on YouTube. You will never look at him the same way again.) The story follows Dr. Henri (short for Henrietta, not Henry – one of the first gaffes she faces in the novel) Bruar as she tries to escape a recent mishap at the college where she has worked so hard to break the glass ceiling. She travels to a run-down castle along the edge of a loche and smack into the tartan covered arms of Keir MacKenzie who had me at the word “kilt”.
Part funny, part mystery, part romance, all around charming, Lizzie Lamb’s Girl in the Castle sends the reader to a place that would be more than nice to live in for a while. Next time I need an escape, if I can’t afford an airline ticket, I will at least pick up another Lizzie Lamb novel!
Review by Kimberly Livingston for Love Books Group
| Author Interview |
After teaching her 1000th pupil and working as a deputy headteacher in a large primary school, Lizzie decided to pursue her first love: writing. She joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme, wrote Tall, Dark and Kilted (2012), followed a year later by Boot Camp Bride. Although much of her time is taken up publicising her novels she published a third SCOTCH ON THE ROCKS in July 2015. It achieved Best Seller status within two weeks of appearing on Amazon. Her latest novel Girl in the Castle was published in 2017 and reached #3 in the charts. Lizzie is a founding member of indie publishing group – New Romantics Press and has held author events in many venues and loves meeting potential readers. In March 2016, Lizzie was a finalist in the prestigious Exeter Novel Prize for Scotch on the Rocks. In November, she co-hosted an author event at the prestigious venue, Aspinall, St Pancras, talking about writing and the amount of research she puts into her novels. Lizzie is currently working on a novel set in Wisconsin – Sweet Little Lies, and has more Scottish-themed romances planned. Lizzie lives in Leicestershire (UK) with her husband and a naughty parrot called Jasper.
What book truly inspired your life and why?
So many to choose from. I think I would have to settle for Catch 22 by Joseph Heller (1961) which I discovered in the early 70’s. At the time, I was reading mainly romances, historical novels, adventure stories or A-level texts. I was drawn to Catch 22 because I wanted to know what ‘Catch 22’ referred to – the phrase was relatively unknown then. The anti-war message in the book appealed to me and, as an aspiring writer, I was interested to learn how Heller links together the backstories of the characters while maintaining a clear ‘omnipresent author voice’. Clever. I was also heartened to learn that he’d started writing the book in 1953 but didn’t publish it until 1961 – maybe there was hope for me. The other book(s) which inspired me to become a writer were Jilly Cooper early novels – Emily, Bella etc. which I return to as my comfort reads when I’m too tired to think after a day at the computer (which is often!)
How did you pick who you dedicated your book to?
My novels are dedicated to my long-suffering husband Dave who puts up with my disappearing for hours to write. He understands how important my writing is to me bought a caravan so we can go off to beautiful parts of the UK (mostly Scotland) where I can write to my heart’s content, surrounded by inspiring scenery. The other ‘person’ my novels are dedicated to is our parrot, Jasper. I modelled the parrot Pershing in Scotch on the Rocks on him. Finally, I always acknowledge the help, support and friendship of other members of New Romantics Press, the indie publishing group we formed in 2012.
Did you do a lot of research for Girl in the Castle?
I love history so lots of the facts and ideas for Girl in the Castle were already on file (ie in my brain!) When I’m writing, I tend to get the story down first and then double/triple check the facts. I find that researching a topic can often give you additional ideas which add colour to your writing. The main thing is to avoid ‘info dump’ which slows down the story and maddens readers. While writing Girl in the Castle a story appeared on the news about a coin which had been in a toy box for years and was later found to be worth almost £250,000. That added a thread to Girl in the Castle which I hadn’t planned but which segued nicely with the themes of lost Jacobite Treasure and a phantom piper in my first (dirty) draft.
What was your favourite read of 2017?
When I’m writing, I tend to read biographies or novels in a different genre to my own. I’m ploughing my way through the Robert Galbraith ‘STRIKE’ novels and have really enjoyed THE CUCKOO’S CALLING. Loving the TV adaptation of the novels, too.
If you had to take three books on a desert island what would they be?
The Jacobite Trilogy – D.K. Broster
Lady of Hay – Barbara Erskine
Case Histories (Jackson Brodie novels #1) Kate Atkinson
Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey?
I’ve always wanted to be a writer but had to put that ambition on hold while I concentrated on being a primary school teacher. It wasn’t until I left the profession that I was able to give my writing the attention it deserved. I joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association and formed the New Romantics Press with three other members of the RNA’s New Writers’ Scheme and – deciding time and tide wait for no writer – went down the self-publishing route. Between 2012 and 2018 I’ve published four novels Tall, Dark and Kilted, Boot Camp Bride, Scotch on the Rocks and Girl in the Castle which have been well received. I’m currently putting the finishing touches to #5 and hope to publish it this summer. My advice to any aspiring writer would be to stick at it, finish the novel, and then start editing., killing off your darlings, if necessary. If you’d like to read more about me and my path to publication, check out my website.
What would you like your readers to know before starting your book?
I couldn’t think what to write but I’ve had a go(?!)
I would say that there are sex scenes in all my novels as the books are romances, but there is no erotica or porn. I also use Scots’ dialect words and Gaelic phrases, which some reviewers appear not to like. Readers don’t seem to have a problem with that and they love the Gaelic love phrases I include, such as – ‘Is tu an solas na mo bheatha. You are the light of my life.’
Do you have any questions that you would like to ask your readers?
A few –
- Does it annoy you if a favourite author suddenly swaps/changes genre?
- Do you mostly read downloads, paperbacks or borrow from the library?
- Does it matter to you how old the hero/heroine is?
- How many of you leave reviews – good or bad on Amazon or Goodreads?
- Is there anything you would HATE to read in a romance
- Is there any theme you would like to see covered in a romance?
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| Synopsis |
Her academic career in tatters, Dr Henriette Bruar needs somewhere to lay low, plan her comeback and restore her tarnished reputation. Fate takes her to a remote Scottish castle to auction the contents of an ancient library to pay the laird’s mounting debts. The family are in deep mourning over a tragedy which happened years before, resulting in a toxic relationship between the laird and his son, Keir MacKenzie. Cue a phantom piper, a lost Jacobite treasure, and a cast of characters who – with Henri’s help, encourage the MacKenzies to confront the past and move on. However – will the Girl in the Castle be able to return to university once her task is completed, and leave gorgeous, sexy Keir MacKenzie behind?
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