Not Quite a Scot

Not Quite a Scot

by Janice Maynard

Paperback

$15.00
View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Wednesday, November 21

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781601836304
Publisher: Random House
Publication date: 11/08/2016
Pages: 178
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.41(d)

Read an Excerpt

Not Quite a Scot

Kilted Heroes


By Janice Maynard

KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.

Copyright © 2016 Janice Maynard
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-60183-630-4


CHAPTER 1

Headed for Inverness on the East Coast Train ...

Scotland. The Highlands. Purple heather. Northern lights. Men in kilts. I was too excited to sleep. I might have made this journey on my own long ago. Instead, I had waited until the moment was right. The wrong companions could ruin even the most exotic trip. Luckily, I'd known the two women traveling with me since we were all in diapers.

Hayley — whose mother ran the in-home daycare where my friends and I first met as toddlers — taught third grade. She was organized, earnest, and one of the most caring people I'd ever known. It pleased me to see her so happy. She practically vibrated with enthusiasm.

After the long flight from Atlanta to Heathrow — and a brief night of sleep in a nondescript hotel room — the three of us were now sitting in motor coach–style seats on either side of a small rectangular table. The train racketed along at high speeds, stopping now and again to drop off and pick up passengers as we whizzed through the countryside. Hayley had finished her tea and was poring over one of the guidebooks she'd brought along.

Willow, on the other hand, brooded loudly, if such a thing were possible. I suspected her cranky attitude was a cover for very real nerves. She had never traveled farther than a few hundred miles from the Peach State. This was a big step for her, not only because of transportation firsts, but because she'd had to leave her business behind.

The salon she co-owned, Hair Essentials, was the product of blood, sweat, and tears. Willow's history was neither as privileged as mine nor as stable as Hayley's. Yet somehow, our cynical friend had managed to find her own path, and a successful one at that.

I stifled an unexpected yawn, swamped by a wave of fatigue. Despite the collection of stamps in my passport, I'd never mastered the art of crossing time zones unscathed.

Willow and I had been squabbling half-heartedly for the last hour. As if sensing that I was losing my steam, she half turned in her seat and glared at me. "Jamie Fraser is a fictional character," she said. "Like Harry Potter or Jason Bourne. You're not going to find him wandering around the Scottish Highlands waiting to sweep you off your feet."

I glared right back at her. "I know that. I'm not delusional. But at least I have a whimsical soul. You wouldn't know a romantic moment if it smacked you in the face."

We were in the midst of an ongoing argument that neither of us was going to win. I knew the Harry Potter reference was a deliberate jab at me. Though my travel companions had moaned, I'd awakened them early enough this morning to make it to King's Cross Station for photographs and retail therapy. After all, it wasn't every day I had a chance to get my picture taken at the famous Platform 9 3/4.

By the time I scoured the handkerchief-sized gift shop and braved the line of tourists posing for the platform picture, we'd had mere minutes to make our noon departure. It was worth the mad scramble. I considered J. K. Rowling one of the wonders of the modern world.

Willow wasn't really miffed about my Harry Potter obsession. She was scared ... scared that we three were embarking on an outlandish adventure sure to disappoint us in the end. I could see it in her wary gaze. Life — and probably men as well — had not been kind to her.

Hayley looked at Willow and me with hurt, puppy dog eyes, as if stunned we could be at odds in the midst of this great adventure. "You're both jet-lagged," she said. "If you're not going to enjoy the trip, at least get some sleep so you won't be grumpy when we get to Inverness. I'm tired of listening to both of you."

Willow and I tabled our squabbles in favor of closing our eyes. Now the sensation of motion intensified. The train raced along, offering tantalizing glimpses of the countryside each time I peeked. Though I had spent a week in Edinburgh several years ago, this was my first chance to venture north. I had told Willow and Hayley that a recent bequest from my grandmother's estate prompted our bucket list trip, but in truth, I'd been planning this pilgrimage for some time.

I was trying to make up for the decade and a half when my childhood friends and I lost touch. Though Hayley's mom had eventually caught up with most of her daycare graduates via Facebook, in the years before that, little more than Christmas cards kept the connection alive between my friends and me.

Our lives had taken far different paths. Hayley was firmly middleclass America with two loving parents and a conventional job. Willow, on the other hand, didn't talk much about her past. Her father had walked out right about the time my parents pulled me from public school and enrolled me in an elite academy. Willow and her mom had been forced to rely on the kindness of relatives who lived on the opposite side of the city.

Despite our differences and the years we spent apart, we were closer now than ever, partly because of a shared obsession, albeit a harmless one. We were all three madly enamored with Diana Gabaldon's Outlander books, and more recently, the TV series. We spent hours critiquing the first season of the show, deciding that although nothing could compare to the actual book, the producers and directors and cast had done a bang-up job of bringing Claire Randall and Jamie Fraser to life.

Somewhere, somehow, in the midst of a sleepless spring night when my hormones were raging and my good sense waning, I had seized on the idea that Hayley and Willow and I should travel to Scotland and seek out our own Outlander-style adventures, preferably with a kilt-clad hero involved.

I knew my plan was farfetched. Guys like the fictional Jamie Fraser, particularly in the twenty-first century, were few and far between. I'd dated my share of losers. Kissing frogs was a rite of passage for millennials.

In my personal experience, though, American men tended to fall into three categories: mama's boys who wanted another woman to take care of them; high-powered workaholics who didn't need or care about real relationships; and last but not least, a large group of genuinely nice guys who would make great boyfriend or husband material, but didn't get my heart (or anywhere else) all fizzy.

Still, I couldn't give up hope that somewhere out there was the one man who was my soul mate. I didn't actually share that belief with my friends for several reasons. Hayley lived like a nun, and Willow was too much of a hard-ass to believe in fairytale romance. Or if she did believe in it, she sure as heck wouldn't admit to something so girly.

My goal for this trip was to get away from everything that pigeonholed me back in the States. I lived mostly in Atlanta, but my parents had a penthouse apartment in New York and a ski chalet in St. Moritz. I was the epitome of the poor little rich girl. I knew my last nanny better than I knew my own mother.

I wasn't complaining. Not at all. Nobody ever said life was fair. Since I'd never had to clip coupons or worry about my car being repossessed, I suppose it made cosmic sense that the average American family wasn't something I would ever have. No Monopoly games around the kitchen table. No making s'mores over a summer campfire. No irritating siblings to steal the attention from me.

Hayley and Willow were the closest thing to sisters I would ever have. I felt more than a little guilty that I had bludgeoned them into making this trip. Even though I paid for the first class airfare and train tickets, the two of them were still going to be out of pocket for lodging and meals.

I wished they would let me cover that, too, but Hayley had pulled me aside months ago and pointed out that she and Willow needed to feel invested in this adventure and not entirely beholden to me. Like Claire Randall, the gutsy heroine of Outlander, we were supposed be bold and independent. In the process, perhaps we might stumble upon our own gorgeous, chivalrous, modern-day Highlanders.

Hayley believed it could happen. Willow would probably work hard to make sure it didn't happen. And as for me ...well, I as far as I was concerned, it was a pleasant daydream.

My repeated yawns were rubbing off on Willow. She pinched the bridge of her nose. "Tell me again why we didn't fly straight to Inverness?"

"You know why," Hayley said. She opened her notebook. "We agreed that since we can't actually go back in time like Claire does in Outlander, this train journey will be symbolic of our desire to go off the grid for a month. No cell phones. No Internet. No Facebook. No Twitter. You agreed, Willow."

"Under duress," she muttered.

I snickered. "You're bitchy when you're tired."

"And you're even more annoying than usual," Willow drawled.

Usually, I loved a good argument. At the moment, though, I was not at my best. After a warning glance from Hayley, I pretended to sleep again. Maybe that would keep me out of trouble.

This train ride had turned me inside out. I was flooded with all sorts of feelings. The fact that my two best friends had followed along with my mad scheme humbled me. I would be absolutely devastated if either of them ended up getting hurt, either physically or emotionally.

It wasn't too late to back out. One word from me and I felt sure either or both of my friends would agree to a new course of action, one where we stuck together as a team. Why had safe seemed like such a dirty word?

Our plan was to remain together tonight at the hotel adjacent to the train station in Inverness. Then tomorrow morning, we would all three go our separate ways. My stomach clenched and my chest tightened. Whatever happened after that would be all my fault.

Hayley tapped the notebook where she had underlined the final piece of our plan. "And remember — every night at nine o'clock, or as close as we can make it, we'll turn on our phones and check for any emergency messages from each other."

Willow nodded. "I won't forget." I sensed that she was as worried about Hayley as I was. Willow had street smarts, but our schoolteacher friend exhibited a naïve streak a mile wide.

The odd thing was, Willow and I were probably the two with the most in common. Which sounded ridiculous given the circumstances of our upbringing. But it was true.

Hayley possessed the wide-eyed wonder of a child and a nonchalant certainty that people were basically nice and sweet and accommodating. Lord help us if she ever found out that wasn't true.

Then there was Willow: hard-working, gruff Willow. Rough around the edges. Abnormally cautious when it came to money. Almost always expecting the worst. I'm sure she would hoot at the comparison, but she and I shared a similar outlook. Neither of us wanted to depend on anyone else for our happiness and our security.

Willow had coped with poverty and a dysfunctional family. The hand I'd been dealt included too much money and parents who barely acknowledged my existence. I'd long since given up trying to win their approval.

Even if I could go out tomorrow, marry a Wall Street banker, and pop out two point five kids, it still wouldn't be enough. My father's career engulfed him. My mother's vanity and narcissism absorbed her.

Thank God I had two such amazing human beings for friends. I loved both with a raw intensity that would probably astonish each of them in different ways. With seven years of adult friendship under our belts to bolster our childhood memories, I would never let them go. Not the recollections of the past, and certainly not the women themselves.

Hayley and Willow and I were the same age. At the moment, though, I felt the sole burden of responsibility. This entire Outlander scheme was my idea. If it failed, I'd be to blame. If it succeeded, even on a superficial level, we'd have a thrilling month ahead.

Despite the panic and the second thoughts, the prospect was exhilarating. Was there a Jamie out there for me? A strong, chivalrous Scotsman who would fight for me and keep me warm at night?

I closed my eyes and tried to conjure up his face.

Inverness couldn't get here soon enough ...

CHAPTER 2

We arrived at our destination just after eight. I had booked us into a lovely old hotel adjacent to the train station, which was a good thing, because I was fading fast. Hayley and Willow looked as bad as I felt.

I ushered them inside, and we dumped all our bags in a small sitting area. Check-in took no time at all. The clerk was friendly and efficient. Soon, we were crammed into the tiny elevator heading upward, though the trip was agonizingly slow.

Our room consisted of two single beds and barely enough space for a rollaway cot. Hayley volunteered for the cot immediately. That might have been a self-sacrificing offer on her part. More likely, she knew nothing would keep her from conking out. It was easy to see that all three of us were hitting bottom. For the past few weeks we'd been buoyed by excitement and adrenaline. Now we were too tired to care about Outlander or Scotland or even food.

My two roomies clearly agreed with me, though none of us said a word as we got ready for bed. I was the one to turn out the lights. The glow from a streetlight outside our window illuminated the room even with the drapes closed. "I'm glad you both came with me," I said. I wish I could make them see how momentous this was, how utterly wonderful.

"Me, too," Hayley said, yawning and punching her thin pillow into a more comfortable contour.

Willow groaned aloud. "I'm sorry I was in a bad mood earlier. I really am excited. But are we absolutely sure we want to split up?" There was the hard question. We had fleshed out this idea as a team. Clearly, I wasn't the only one experiencing doubts.

Hayley spoke up before I could say anything. "We have to," she said firmly. "If we're really going to be on the lookout for our own Scottish heroes, we need to be independent. A cluster of three women isn't likely to attract the attention of an available Scotsman."

I laughed out loud in spite of my fatigue. "Unless he's into ménage à trois."

Hayley gave me a schoolmarm look. With her face washed clean and her jammies on, she looked almost like a teenager. "Your math skills suck," she said. "And I don't know the French word for four. Go to sleep. We don't have to say goodbye yet."


* * *

The next morning, I clung desperately to my positive attitude. I'd wanted so badly for everything to be perfect for Hayley and Willow. I traveled frequently, but this was the first big trip either of them had ever made. Why did the weather have to be so depressingly ... Scottish?

I didn't mind rainy days as a rule. There was something soothing about a gentle, steady downpour. But not now. It didn't seem fair to my travel companions or to the Highlands. Not when first impressions were so important. I wanted my friends to have the time of their lives. So far, the only thing to see was a blanket of grey mist covering the city.

Over breakfast, I tried to keep the conversation going. We were a quiet bunch. I sensed that anticipation had taken a backseat to reluctance and maybe even dread. Hayley looked downright scared. Willow was harder to read.

Though I had nothing to feel guilty about, I squirmed inwardly. Should I be the one to rewrite our game plan? After all, I'd initiated the trip. Here in the confines of the hotel, we were safe. And together. What had seemed like a lark back in the States suddenly felt astonishingly real.

A month was a heck of a long time. Did I dare send my two little chicks out into the world without me?

My agitation stole my appetite, though I stuffed down bacon and eggs. One thing I had learned over the years while traveling in remote sections of the world was to eat when the chance arose. You never knew when the next meal would come around.

Hayley, God love her, insisted on trying the haggis. Willow pretended to gag theatrically. I smiled. I knew that sheep organs mixed with oatmeal weren't my cup of tea. And speaking of tea ... I lifted a hand and waved for the server. After requesting a fresh pot of hot water, I smeared raspberry marmalade on toast and ate it along with my final cup of Earl Grey.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Not Quite a Scot by Janice Maynard. Copyright © 2016 Janice Maynard. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Not Quite a Scot 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really good story
Anlenhart1 More than 1 year ago
Not Quite A Scot is the final book in the Kilted Heroes series by Janice Maynard and it provides a satisfying ending. This book focuses on McKenzie and Finley in the rugged wilderness of Scotland. Finley is an American ex-pat who creates custom motorcycles for a living. He rescues the McKenzie and they embark on a memorable journey. As the past returns to confront Finn, will he and McKenzie's relationship survive? I was sad to see this series end, but look forward to the next story that Ms. Maynard creates. This book combine a beautiful setting, interesting story and complex characters. I was given a free copy for an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
While I greatly enjoyed this Outlander spin off, there were quite a few annoying editing errors that detracted from the story. The first of this trilogy was the best but all three are fun quick reads
CathyGeha More than 1 year ago
McKenzie Taylor and three of her friends go to Scotland to find a Scotsman to love. Little did McKenzie know that the man she met would be a transplant from the USA and not native grown on the Isle of Skye. Finley Craig may not be what she thought she wanted when she started her vacation but he was definitely what she wanted by the end of her stay in Scotland. McKenzie and Finley had more than enough money as children but did not have loving nurturing parents. Finley has found his way to Scotland and has a successful business – McKenzie has plenty of money, is kind and generous. They are instantly attracted to one another but know that this is most likely a summer fling. Much happens during the month that McKenzie is in Scotland but whether or not she and Finley can find a HEA is not known till the last chapter of the book. This was an easy read that did not require having read the first two books in the series. There was information about the landscape and history of Scotland and some references to the Diana Gabaldon Outlander series. The story was well written and entertaining. Thank you to NetGalley and Kensington Books for the ARC. This is my honest review.