There is something about Scotland that reader’s can’t help but find romantic. Whether its the beauty of the highlands, the allure of its customs and traditions, or just the image of a muscular guy in a kilt, Scotland has always been a popular setting for romance. Carly Silver seems to sum up the romantic appeal of Scotland the best: “There is, indeed, something irresistible about a Scottish man. They’re seen as the brooding, silent types—the loner bad boys of the British Isles. Unlike the jolly lords of London, Scotsmen are seen as untamed residents of a wild land that never fully submitted to England’s yoke.”
I’ll admit, I’ve always had a soft spot for stories set in Scotland, so when I discovered that Sara Gruen’s newest book, At The Water’s Edge, was focused on a hunt for the Loch Ness monster, I knew I had to get my hands on a copy! The story begins on New Year’s Eve, 1944, where Maddie, her husband Ellis, the heir to Hyde fortune, and their friend Hank have made absolute fools of themselves in front of Philadelphia’s highest society. Banished from the house by his father, and with his monthly allowance greatly decreased, Ellis determines to regain society’s favour and respect by locating and photographing Scotland’s legendary beast.
Is his plan ludicrous? Yes. Especially considering the dangerous trek across German infested water’s in the midst of World War II, but Ellis and Hank aren’t the most rational of thinkers. Having been rejected from military service due to colour blindness and flat feet, Ellis and Hank are compelled to prove their self worth to those around them, and Maddie is dragged along for the ride.
I was surprised, however, how quickly the novel turned it’s focus away from the Loch Ness monster, and more towards Maddie’s journey of self-discovery. As Ellis becomes resentful and embittered over his fruitless hunt, the picture of her husband’s true nature becomes increasingly apparent. As Maddie’s eyes are opened, she finds herself instead turning towards a handsome Scotsman, and then the real romance begins.
I’ll admit, At The Water’s Edge was far from perfect. The story is predictable, the war that is raging on is somewhat glossed over, and the themes are eerily familiar to Water for Elephants, but that didn’t stop me from loving it! In fact, I found this book impossible to put down! The characters were compelling (I loved to hate Ellis and Hank), the romance was sweet, and the writing was captivating. Plus, we can’t forget that sweeping setting, complete with its very own Scotsman as the romantic lead! No, it’s not as good as Water for Elephants, but it is equally addicting, and makes the perfect comfort read!