Etta

Book Review: High Heels in the Highlands (ARC)

Published: March 24th 2021

Author: Liz Hurley

Clementine’s swapped a London flat for a Scottish castle – but will she get her fairytale ending?

After discovering they had inherited an enormous fortune, as well as the titles of ‘Lady’, the lives of the five Hiverton sisters have never been the same.

While oldest sister Ariana settles in Norfolk, fashion designer Clementine heads to the Scottish Highlands to investigate their newly inherited castle. Not bad for a girl brought up in poverty in a tiny house in East London…

However, Lady Clem quickly finds out that Ruacoddy Castle is falling to pieces, the neighbours – especially grumpy young farmer, Rory – are suspicious of her and the eccentric housekeeper, Ottoline, is still in residence.

But just as Clem starts to embrace her new life in the Highlands, growing closer to Rory and forming a friendship with Ottoline, she stumbles upon a secret in the attic that could destroy the Hiverton family. Can she save the castle as well as her family’s reputation?

And will she ever find a pair of high-heeled wellies…?

High Heels in the Highlands is the third full-length novel in The Hiverton Sisters series. Each novel seems to focus on one of the five sisters and the timeline moves forward throughout. Although time is moving forward with some events in previous novels being mentioned in this one, the novel could technically be read as a standalone. As I did not read the previous two before reading this one, I can attest that a reader can understand everything in this book without issue. I am curious to read more about the other sisters based on their mentions throughout this story.

Clementine (“Clem”) Hiverton/Byrne is one of five sisters (Ariana, Aster, Clem, Paddy, and Nic).  After an unfortunate separation with her former design partner, she now has free time to travel up to Scotland and figure out the details of the castle life that her family has inherited.  During her visit, she must help make the decision if the castle estate is worth keeping or if it needs to be sold. My feelings on her as a character are very mixed as she is a stronger personality, but a lot of the time she came off rude and condescending. It seemed sometimes that she was annoyed to be there when she is the one that chose to be in charge.  She did grow on me more as the story went on, though, and it was enjoyable to read about her learning experiences as she goes through sudden spring snow and random sheep on the side of the road.

There is a lot of plot packed into this novel, so it tended to lose focus on the romantic novel that I thought I was going to read. It did follow the description where our main character meets her neighbor, who becomes her love interest, while battling her housekeeper, and finally discovering a secret, but there were times it felt disjointed and tried to do too much at the same time. I appreciate the originality with the family secret, but it was a lot to pack in, so it does not get the attention it needed.  Clem’s professional growth and character development was one of the storylines I loved. Clem’s passion for fashion design and her desire to become a well-known designer were admirable. In the writing, it was apparent that fashion is her true love and what she is destined to be for a career. When she, eventually, changes the ballroom into a design studio, it was very heart-warming to see how driven she was to do what she loved after being burned by her previous design contract.  This part of her character was one of my favorites as she went through a lot from her former contract and felt defeated. She worked through a lot of emotions and attempted to find her passion again.  

Clem and Rory, a neighboring farmer who becomes Clem’s love interest, barely interact throughout the novel and the times they were in the same “scene” together, they either argued or just were around each other. Either I missed the development for their feelings or it just wasn’t there, as I felt that they just suddenly decided they belonged together without actually spending much time together. It was not insta-love, as they did not immediately fall for the other, but it seemed like a sudden growth of feelings and I wanted more between them. Unfortunately, I loved Rory’s character, as he seemed fun and caring, but I just did not feel connected to their relationship. More time was spent on Clem’s time with Ottoline, the housekeeper, or with her own character growth, so I wish there was a little more on Rory.

Ottoline, the housekeeper, and Clem start off on the wrong foot. Otto appears to be judgmental and rude, but there is more to her than meets the eye. Over time, she and Clem start to get to know each other and realize that the other is not as bad as they initially thought. The development of their friendship was very enjoyable and seemed to be the main relationship focus of the story and I preferred to read about the two of them becoming closer than I did for Clem and Rory. Honestly, there were times that I could have taken out Rory’s part of the story and I feel the impact would have felt the same to me. I love romance in stories, but I felt that with so many other plots to focus on, then the romance was not needed as not a lot of attention was given to it.

Overall, this novel was a delight. True, I do have some pieces that I would have done differently, but my general experience was enjoyable. The descriptions of the scenery were fantastic and I could easily picture myself in small town Scotland living in a castle – if only!  I love how Clem and Otto start working together to try and save the castle from being sold. They bond together over the discovered secret and it is entertaining to read about them trying to fix mistakes from the past. Clem’s learning disability that is most likely undiagnosed dyslexia and I found it to be portrayed well in the story.  This story may not have been the romance novel that I was expecting, but it was a captivating story of growth, friendship, and Scotland! I would definitely be open to reading more from this series and discover more from each of Clem’s sisters.

**I want to give a special thank you to Netgalley and the publisher, Hera Books, for a review copy of this enjoyable novel. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.**

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