Review by Veronica

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He wasn’t what I was expecting. I had envisaged Xander North as a crumbly older man, carrying a stick and wearing a cravat—perhaps a stately, mature gentleman with a handlebar moustache and a polka-dot handkerchief sticking out of his suit pocket. In reality, he was a towering, intense man in his late thirties, with a sweep of thick, dark hair and a scowl. 

A Scottish Highland Surprise is a charming and light-hearted read. 

Discover the secrets and surprises that the scenic Scottish town of Briar Glen has to offer…

When wedding planner Sophie Harkness refuses to move a friend’s wedding to accommodate a spoilt bridezilla, she finds herself out of a job. That is until she discovers her late grandma has purchased a local shop for her in the pretty Scottish town of Briar Glen.

Surprised and delighted, Sophie opens her own porcelain shop in honour of her grandmother. But when an unusual tea set is left with Sophie, along with a mysterious letter, she can’t help but be intrigued by the story behind the antique.

And when the handsome but aloof art critic Xander North comes knocking on her door, Sophie is about to find out the true colourful past of her latest treasure.

This delightful book was just what the doctor ordered to chase away those dreary springtime blues (FYI, where I live, it’s snowing). I am sure it is no surprise to those who follow our blog that I am a huge fan of English and Scottish cozy romance books. They are my go-to reads when I need a pick me up. A Scottish Highland Surprise is all I could ever wish for in a cozy romance book. I will definitely be reading more of Julie’s books in the future.

The story and flow follow that typical cozy romance story pattern. You know, the main heroine makes a big decision to change her life, starts her own business, meets some wonderful people along the way, and slowly falls in love with the dashing hero. But even though the story structure is predictable, Julie adds some pretty fantastic, unique and charming elements to the story to make this book fun, engaging, and just so darn delightful.

One of the main things that I loved about this book was its focus on crockery (teapot sets). I never knew I would be so interested in learning more about teapot history, and it would never occur to me that someone would want to open up a crockery shop. Sophie and her grandma’s passion for crockery just leaped from the pages. Julie did such an excellent job at bringing Sophie’s shop to life. I felt like I was there on opening day, admiring all the different tea sets and not being able to decide which one I wanted to buy.

This story also has a bit of a mystery thrown in it: Sophie comes into possession of this rare tea set with a mysterious past. I loved reading to see Sophie, Xander, and some community members worked together to learn the story about this mysterious tea set. This mystery part of the story is just so interesting and added some neat twists to the story. 

I loved how Julie blended in flashbacks of Sophie’s grandma’s life throughout this book which fit perfectly with the flow of the story. They were a great way to help readers learn more about this remarkable woman and why she left Sophie the money she would need to start her shop.

There was a love triangle of sorts in this book. It’s between Sophie, Xander, and Jake. Xander and Jake don’t have a great history, and Sophie finds herself stuck between two men who dislike each other. The romantic story in this book was a secondary plot. Sophie and Xander don’t spend much time together, and their relationship doesn’t really take off until the end. Part of me wishes that these two had more meet-cute moments in this book. But at the same time, I really enjoyed the main focus of the story being on Sophie’s journey of opening up her own business and trying to learn about the mysterious past of the tea set she came into.

If you are looking for a book with a lot of charm and heart, you should read A Scottish Highland Surprise. You won’t be disappointed.

Thank you, HarperCollins UK and One More Chapter for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.