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Whenever I'm looking for a few hours of escapist romance I'll turn to Katie Fforde and her offerings of safe and enjoyable storytelling with the lightest touch. I've read and enjoyed several of her novels including Artistic Licence, Thyme Out, Stately Pursuits and Wild Designs and so with a firm understanding of the type of tale I could expect I settled down to 376 pages of Highland Fling.
I've discovered having read a few of Ffords novels that she has a fairly formulaic approach. Essentially a girl next-doorish headstrong girl/woman finds herself (usually by career move) heading to another part of the country (UK) to work for or with a family or group of people, often having to cook for them. These would include an unpleasant but utlimately manipulatable matriarch; a wise old woman or slightly older companion who won't take no for an answer drives our heroine out of her comfort zone with friendly support; a few soppy blokes who aren't a good enough fit but are essentially good guys; and a gruff and ruggedly handsome hero whose meeting with our heroine always begins badly and continues to duck and dive throughout the story in a will-they won't-they (of course they will) sweep of senarios and misunderstandings. Highland Fling presents us with no such deviation from this tried and tested structure.
~the basics (a breakdown of the backcover)~
When 'Virtual Assistant' Jenny Porter's boyfriend accuses her of being impulsive, soft-hearted and unbusinesslike, dashing off to Scotland to sort out the failing mill for one of her clients may not be the best way of proving him wrong. and promising to help run a mobile burger bar before she's even found her feet doesn't help matters. When she finds herself determined to save the mill - whatever her client's wishes - it seems that Henry's accusations may have contained more than a grain of truth.
So when Jenny's awkward encounters with the abrasive but disconcertingly attractive Ross Grant develop into something more complicated - just as Henry arrives in Scotland to reclaim her - it's time for Jenny to make some decisions. Should she follow Henry back to London? Or is her Highland Adventure more than just a fling?
It didn't take me long to whistle my way through this book and I think it's clear from the outset what's going to happen, the joy comes in getting there. Fforde has a really light touch and writes with good pace and honesty. She creates warm and witty scenes and characters that I find easy to identify with. I know what I am going to get when I sit down with a Fforde novel and I can just switch off for a few hours and escape into a Cinderella like fantasy.
It's never going to win any literary prizes but if your looking for a holiday reas then you can't go far wrong with a Katie Fford romance. I usually pick one up in the 2 for £8 supermarket deals along with something more meaty.
I have found that I have managed to clear my massive pile of books and the last one to be read was Katie Fforde with Highland Fling. The front cover of this book is very similar to her previous books I have read which I have always liked and I find they stand out when on a shelf of books.
Jenny Porter is a virtual assistant much to her partner Henrys disappointment. When one of Jennys clients ask her to travel to Scotland to find out what is going on in one of the businesses he is financially involved with, Jenny is excited even if she has not got the support of Henry. When she arrives in Scotland she finds that he mill which she is there to take a look out if in a bad financial way but rather than telling her client this she feels compelled to help get the business back on track.
Jenny finds herself constantly bumping into the character Ross Grant, they both take an instant dislike to each other but in the same breath find each other attractive. Could there be trouble up in the hills of Scotland ?
I found the character Jenny very likeable and easy to warm to from the first page. As the book goes on she starts to feel loving and caring like a friend. She was my favourite character in this book. Her partner Henry I took an instant dislike to from the first chapter I was quite glad that he wasn't a strong character all the way through the book as I don't think I would have enjoyed the book so much if I had to read too much about him.
I found Ross Grant's character very interesting and the relationship between him and Jenny was lovely to read as it was very on edge and you were not sure what they were going to say to each other next or if they were going to be hot or cold with each other.
I am yet to find a Katie Fforde book which I have not enjoyed. I must have enjoyed this one as I have finished it in a day so it is defiantly a real page turner in my opinion. It was nice to take her book to a new location which is Scotland with the snowy setting as all of the books I have read have been country bumpkin warm settings so it did make a nice change. Katie's style of writing makes you feel as if you know the characters and as if you are there in the story which I think helps with the way she describes the surroundings and the personalities of her characters so well.
I like the suspense element in this book I lost count how many times I changed my opinion of what I thought was going to happen this only made me want to carry on reading to find out which direction the story was going to take. I found the pace of the book kept on an even keel throughout the book which made it an easy and enjoyable read.
I would recommend this book for a cosy Sunday afternoon read, especially for any of you Katie Fforde and women's fiction fans.
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Book Title and Author
Highland Fling by Katie Fforde
Brief Plot Description
Jenny Porter has what people think is an unusual job, she is a 'Virtual Assistant' and her boyfriend doesn't approve. Especially when her latest client wants her to go to Scotland and assess a failing mill. Once there Jenny finds herself trying to save the mill no matter what her client wants. She also keeps bumping into Ross Grant, a man who she takes an instant dislike to but at the same time finds him increasingly attractive. Will Jenny manage to save the mill?
The character of Jenny is very likeable and you are instantly interested in her life. She likes to jump head first into situations making her impulsive but she is also very caring. It is great how she decides to save the mill even if it means going against the wishes of her client to save it.
Henry, Jenny's boyfriend is a little on the annoying side but in his own way thinks he is being a good boyfriend to Jenny.
Ross Grant's character is very intriguing and is a great addition to the story with the dialogue between the two being really engaging. I found I couldn't put the book down when they were interacting.
The minor characters all helped to build up a great plot and all added something extra special to the story. Especially the character of Felicity as she tries to break free of her mother's domineering ways.
Book Details & Price
The book is available in paperback and retails for £4.99 at Amazon. Although please check on find-book.co.uk to check other online retailers.
The book has 384 pages and was published in June 2009.
To be honest I bought my copy quite a while a go and have only recently got around to reading it. Something always put me off it was probably because this was the first book I have read by Katie Fforde. Once I had finished reading I couldn't believe that I hadn't read anything by her sooner. I really enjoyed her style of writing and she has a good ability to make the characters come to life.
The plot is well thought out and all the subplots fit in perfectly with the main story regarding Jenny. Highland Fling is light hearted and easy to read with some great characters. There is a twist fairly early on but to be honest I saw it coming as it is almost spelled out. It's a shame Jenny doesn't twig on so easily to the twist!
I really liked the character of Jenny and the courage and determination she has in trying to save the mill from closure and how she felt for the mill workers. I could have carried on reading about the characters in this book even after I had finished it. This book will leave you with a smile on your face and in a great mood.
I have to recommend Highland Fling it was a refreshing change to read a book by someone new and I can't wait to buy my next Katie Fforde novel.
Katie Fforde is one of my favourite authors, one of the best around for romantic comedies or 'Chick-Lit' as I've heard it referred!
Highland Fling was the first of her novels I read, and must have been good, as it inspired me to buy most of the other books in her collection!
In Highland Fling, the main character, Jenny, is called up to the Highlands to an old mill to try to save it from ruin. After a few mishaps, she fits nicely into her new life, getting used to the freezing conditions and making friends with a local burger van owner! However, everything changes when she meets her new client, who she begins to fall in love with. Throw into the mix an ex-boyfriend intent on getting back together, and you have a classic romantic comedy!
Katie Fforde is a brilliant author, she writes so well you manage to lose yourself in the story for a while, forgetting you're not actually up in the Highlands with Jenny!
A lovely l ight read, easy to pick up and put down again. Definately one for the 'Chick-Lit' fans!
Even when you just see the spine of this book on the bookshelf, it screams « chicklit » at you - the pink cover, the heart, the flower, the idea of romance ... So I must admit, I wasn't expecting anything special out of this book apart from the usual frothy, hopefully funny, frivolous, lightweight reading that chicklit offers. The quote on the front, apparently from Choice magazine, says "The ideal summer read" and it did indeed find itself tucked away in my suitcase when we headed off for some lazing in the sun this summer.
And it did live up to my expectations, in the good and bad sense of the word ! There are absolutely no surprises or suspense, so nothing to keep you on the edge of your seat. The characters are nice enough, the story (yes, there is one ! ) is nice enough but it's all a bit wishy-washy and predictable. The characters are a bit one dimensional and you can be pretty sure where the story is headed right from the end of the first few pages.
The plot is based around Jenny Porter, a "virtual assistant" (do they really exist ?! ) who has to head up to Scotland to help decide whether or not the failing mill that her client is financially involved with should be shut down or if it can be salvaged. I won't tell you any more or there really won't be any point in reading it !!
All the references to Scotland seemed a bit too stereotyped to me, but I've never been there, so maybe they really are all like that after all !! If you look a bit more closely at the book cover, the flower and hearts I mentioned above are actually a thistle and a heart made of thread so it does relate to the story and isn't just a commercial ploy to pull in the lovers of romantic fiction!
It's a nice enough book, I did have a chuckle a few times, but it's instantly forgettable once you've read the final page. Which is fine if that's what you're after. Just don't take it along to a reading group and expect to be able to discuss it at length !!!
376 pages, Price £6.99, published by Random House
Published by Arrow Books
I can actually claim to have every book Katie Fforde has ever had published. Which is quite a feat for me! I like her style, I like her humour, and I like her characters, which means in turn that I like every book she publishes, and what is more, I know Im going to like it before I even buy it! Her stories arent deeply philosophical, her characters are no more or less complicated than you or I, but theres just something about they way they pull you in, with the ease of reading and the simplicity and everyday-lifeness of them that means you pick them up and cant put them down again!
Highland Fling was the first Katie Fforde novel I read, though it is actually the 8th novel in a growing list of about 12, and I have to say it totally captivated me. Its very fanciful, but still real, if that makes sense, and so well researched that you dont even question the characters and what they are doing, you just believe. I think thats probably what I applaud most in Katie Fforde books, is that she so cleverly researches every main character so well, that they come across as real people, and you believe in them. Every book covers a different subject, from running a full blown Scottish cloth mill in Highland Fling, to growing plants and exhibiting at the Chelsea Flower Show in Wild Designs, and in every single paragraph, the attention to detail and the research shines through, though not in a way which distracts you from the story.
Highland Fling is a story about Jenny Porter, who is a virtual assistant and is in charge of trying to save a failing Scottish mill. She is impulsive, strong in character, and has bucket loads of sheer determination. She also has a boyfriend back home who thinks shes too impulsive and too warm-hearted, and doesnt appear to be happy about this. There is a love interest, the charming and dashing Ross Grant, and a lot of Scottish references! Set in the highlands (obviously!) and during the cold winter months, the scene is set for romance by the fireside (or half way up a mountain!) and the only question is who will Jenny end up with? Her boyfriend, who turns up to woo her back, or the handsome Ross Grant ?
I love Katie Fforde books. She writes with an easy, funny, gentle style, and her characters are always well informed, strong women who journey through the book making all the mistakes we all make, but learning from them and falling in love along the way. Highland fling is no exception, and I think this is probably my favourite Katie Fforde book of all time. The modern-day Scottish location helps, and the setting of a failing Scottish textile mill adds the charm element. Its a great story, a fabulous setting, and well worth a read.
This is a perfect book for a winter Sunday afternoon, and I can thoroughly recommend it to anyone who wants a bit of love, a bit of humour, and a bit of Scottish hillside to read about!
Thank you for reading, Kate x