Recommended Read, Review

Review: What Happens in Scotland by Jennifer McQuiston (2013)

Second Sons, Book 1

Heat Factor: She’s a slow burn, friends

Character Chemistry: They have shockingly fantastic chemistry, and the way this was executed was superb and that’s my thesis

Plot: Georgette wakes up in Scotland smelling of brandy, unable to remember anything from the night before, and is clearly married to a handsome Scot. James is a second son, deeply invested in becoming a solicitor his town (and family) might respect, and is also suddenly unable to remember anything about the night before. The two of them have to retrace their steps to figure out what happened, save Georgette, and see if they have something worth saving together.

Overall: Obsessed.

My feeling about this book is that it’s absolutely fantastic. My opinion about this book is that it’s just wholly well executed, from beginning to end. Plus, you know I love a “Georgette”, and boy do we have one here.

In this absolutely bananas romp, we have Lady Georgette, who, as we quickly discover, has decamped from London to Scotland to visit her botanist cousin—but that’s pretty much all she remembers when she wakes up smelling of brandy and wearing very little clothing. So when a very handsome and underdressed man talks sweetly to her from the bed they both just woke up in, Georgette clocks him in the head with a bedpan and runs away, thus ensuring that neither of them remember what the heck happened the night before. 

This is really just the beginning of what ends up being the absolute most tightly knit together bonkers plot I can recall reading in recent history. 

Essentially, for the first third? Half? Of the book no one knows if James and Georgette are really married or not. With it being Scotland, the rules are a little flexible. We get tidbits of what happened from both sides, which COULD be difficult to track as a reader, except that in this book it’s so vividly done and with such inherent clarity that it’s remarkably easy to just settle in and watch them struggle. I spent so much time wondering why I was just dying to see the two of them together—and it really was a lot of time because they don’t even lay eyes on one another again for a decent chunk of the book—and then it occurred to me that instead of the reader seeing two characters bounce chemistry off of each other, we’re watching James and Georgette show up to the same environments at different times, just missing each other, but reacting to the same things under the same tense circumstances—and it allows the reader to see and guess what they’d be like together. (And we do want them together…yes, we do.) So it’s a nail biting way to establish chemistry, and had it been done in a more careless way, I don’t think it would have been effective at all. But it’s quickly paced, with the characters experiencing swift and intense emotions that reveal a great deal about who they are and who they want to be, and what kind of person would help them get there. While they’re confused and desperate, of course.

Plus, when Georgette finally meets James again he’s furious with her and thinks she’s a thief, and it’s just scorching in the best of ways…but as I said, it’s a really slow burn, so be prepared to let it simmer.

One of the other best parts of this book is James’ character arc. He’s struggling to establish himself as a solicitor after having his reputation sullied as a young man, and he feels incredibly rejected and let down by his family’s response to that issue. As he untangles the intrigue that brought Georgette to his lap (literally, it’s really cute) he’s also forced to revisit what he thought happened then with more mature eyes, and it’s absolutely heartwarming to see. 

This is one of those books where by the end you’re rooting for so much more than just a neatly tied up, happily-ever-after. It’s the kind where you’re practically struck silent by how GOOD it was without being able to pinpoint exactly why, and so you sit there and think about it here and there as you go about your day. And if you’re not into writing technique, you’ll just bask in the glow of that—but if you are, you’ll bask while you slowly figure out all the clever ways this author made this story sing.

Buy Now: Amazon | Bookshop

Looking for something similar?

Solicitors just do it for me

Slow burns


3 thoughts on “Review: What Happens in Scotland by Jennifer McQuiston (2013)”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s