At the moment we could all do with that little something that gives us the feel good factor, something that puts a smile on your face. For me, that was reading The Back Up Plan by Elsie McArthur. This Scottish romance was just what I needed to cheer me up and keep me entertained over lockdown.
I was given this book by Elsie in exchange for an honest review not too long after lockdown started here in the UK. As with all of my review, the options that I give are my own and have not be influenced in any way by the fact that I was gifted the book by the author. Don’t worry, you guys will always get my honest opinion.
Giving up? Or moving on?
That’s the question for thirty-something Marsaili McKenzie. Ten years after fleeing her tiny coastal village for dreams of fame and fortune in the big city, she finds herself on the brink of an existential crisis. Far from being the star actress she once imagined, she’s still working as a barmaid in a Glasgow theatre while all around her, her friends and family are getting engaged, pregnant or promoted.
It’s all she can do to keep her head above water. But as a new year approaches, she resolves to give her acting dreams one last shot. That is, until a couple of unexpected distractions arrive on the scene.
Will Hunter is undeniably handsome, as well as being aloof, socially awkward, posh and in the middle of a nasty divorce. And to make things even more complicated, he’s also her new boss.
Local boy made good, soap star Euan Campbell, is the epitome of a charismatic leading man. His easy-going charm soon sweeps Marsaili off her feet, but is there more to him than meets the eye?
To top it all off, Marsaili finds herself inexplicably drawn back to the simple, rural life she used to loathe. Can she finally figure out which dreams are worth pursuing, and would it really be so bad to resort to her back up career after all?
Join Marsaili as she navigates the choppy seas of love, family, friendship and self-discovery. This heart-warming novel is full of romance, laughter and more than enough drama to keep you on the edge of your seat!
Spoiler free review
The Back Up Plan is a relatable, heart warming romance and easy read that I will be grabbing on rainy days when I need something to smile about.
The book follows Marsaili, a woman in her thirty’s having a hard time breaking into her dream career of being an actor. She’s struggling to get her career off the ground, struggling to have some sort of love life and struggling to live up to the pressures off her family to have a stable job, find a nice guy and start a family.
Several years after leaving her childhood home, and will little to show from living in Glasgow to breaking into the acting world, Marsaili makes one last push to make it big. With the pull to come back home and give up her dreams she also has to navigate a charming local celebrity, Euan, and her new boss Will.
One thing I always criticises the romance genre for is how the female lead is portrayed. Most often at the start of the book, they’re these interdependent, confident women who have a really nice well built character. But the second a love interest is introduced they seem to turn into this empty, giggly teenager. It’s something that get’s on my nerves time and time again. All I want is a main character in romance who has a character arc and dimension. Thankfully, The Back Up Plan gave me what I’ve been searching for.
The whole book will have you rooting for Marsaili, hoping she makes the right choices along her journey and ends up with the right guy. The characterisation is fantastic, every person you come across in the book feels well thought out and most importantly, human.
The attention to detail to the little things makes the whole book feel so real, I finished it thinking Marsaili was my childhood friend and we’d just had a fascistic catch up after not seeing each other for a few years. The Back Up Plan has really set the bar high for any romance novel I pick up from here on in. Credit to Elsie, this is an amazing novel.
Something that I was very fond of was the location of the book. I love books that are set in Scotland, it’s a location that doesn’t get enough coverage in fiction. I lived in Scotland when I was younger and even once I’d moved back to England, the Scottish Highlands were always a popular holiday detestation for us as a family, with us going back every year. After spending so much time in the Highlands it’s so easy for me to feel disappointed when I read Scottish characters. So often authors miss including the culture, the mannerisms that just make characters Scottish. It’s easy to fall into writing a stereotype and difficult to really get things right. Not only were the locations described perfectly but the characters had that spark in them that really paid credit to someone living in Glasgow.
In the process of reading this book I started a summer job and suddenly I no longer had all day to be reading. Some nights I’m finishing my shift just after 10pm so utterly exhausted. When I clambered into bed and went for a late night read (the best way to fall asleep in my opinion), I always went for The Back Up Plan. It was such an easy read, something that is by far one of the books biggest strengths. It’s perfect for everyday reading, it has a great plot, amazing characters and nothing too overwhelming. Also, the chapters are very short, what turned out to be something I now look for in my books because I loved it so much. The book is 251 pages long and has a grand total of 45 chapters and an epilogue. So, if you’re like me and are a night reader who constantly says “I’ll put the book down at the end of this chapter” then this is the book for you.
Overall I am incredibly impressed with Elsie’s writing. The Back Up Plan is a romance I’ll be recommending for ages to come, and I most certainly will be getting my hands on the sequil Love, On The Rocks.
You can pick up a copy of The Back Up Plan here on Amazon
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