What Happens in Scotland…

My guest today is fellow GRW member and award-winning debut historical romance author Jennifer McQuiston.  Her book, What Happens in Scotland, earned 4 stars from Romantic Times Book Reviews and a Top Pick from Night Owl Reviews. She’s a two-time Golden Heart finalist and has won the Georgia Romance Writers’ Maggie Award twice.  (Just so everyone knows, I won a copy of What Happens in Scotland, but I had already invited Jennifer to join us.)   Welcome, Jennifer!

mhs_2088.e1.lrThank you so much for having me on with the Romance Bandits, Nancy! It is a pleasure to be here.

 I think you have a fascinating day job.  Please tell us a bit about it.

Yes, my day job raises some eyebrows among writers (but no more than my writing raises eyebrows among my day job colleagues.) I am a veterinarian by training, and I also have a master’s degree in molecular microbiology. I put both skills to use tracking disease outbreaks at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, working primarily on diseases swapped between animals and people. 

How did you make the shift from infectious diseases to romance?

I began writing historical romance mainly as an intellectual challenge, believe it or not. I needed something creative to keep that part of my brain alive, and I had always enjoyed reading romance. It seemed a natural diversion, and I started writing seriously in 2009. Of course, I had to re-train myself to write. Somehow, my experience with peer-reviewed journal articles didn’t translate well on the page. My early work was called “stilted” by more than one well-meaning contest judge. I found my voice on book #2, and honed my craft on books #3-#4. I finally sold book #5. 

WhatHappens_FINALWe love call stories here in the Lair.  Will you share yours? 

My husband and I both work at the CDC, so we try to meet for lunch out about once a week. We had just settled down and ordered our food for our lunch date when my phone rang. I fumbled for it and it went to voicemail, but I could immediately see it was my agent. I remember feeling numb, because I KNEW something was up. We had only gone out on submission a few days before, but something about this story felt completely different.

Long story short, I had a lovely voicemail from my agent Kevan Lyon telling me she had an offer, and I kept it and replayed it for at least a few weeks. But then came another offer… and then another… and then we went to auction. Completely unexpected – after all, I was the author who had 4 manuscripts no one wanted! But I landed with Avon, and I am wildly happy with everything they have done for me.

I love your book trailer, so I’d like to share it if that’s okay. 

Yes, thank you!

<<fans self>>Please tell us a bit about James and Georgette and their story.

WHAT HAPPENS IN SCOTLAND is a classic “she woke up married” story… only set in the decidedly non-classic setting of 1842 Scotland. My heroine, the widowed Lady Georgette Thorold, is none too thrilled to wake up to find herself in bed with a naked Scotsman, wearing his wedding ring and nothing else. Panicked, she clocks him over the head with a chamber pot and makes a dash for freedom.

James is a former black sheep second son trying to make his own way in the world, and so when he wakes up and finds his money purse missing and tales of his outlandish night tossed about, he is embarrassed enough to want to track down the woman whom he thinks swindled him. Neither of them have correctly interpreted the intentions of the other, but neither have full memory of what happened the night before… which makes it delicious fun to mess with both of their heads.

The entire book takes place over a 24 hour time period, and I (shockingly) keep the hero and heroine apart for a good chunk of the book as they search for each other.

Sounds fabulous.  What’s next for you?

 I was so fortunate to receive an offer for a 3 book deal, and I have just finished up copy-edits for book #2. It is called SUMMER IS FOR LOVERS, and it is an unrequited love story set in the Victorian seaside resort of Brighton.

The hero, David Cameron, is a bit of a rogue and border-line villain in my first book, so I loved being able to given him a chance to redeem himself. My heroine for book #2, Caroline Tolbertson, is the odd girl out in town, and hides her secret talent for swimming from the popular crowd. Thanks to a chance encounter when she was still a child, David Cameron is one of the few people who knows her secret. Now she is all grown up… and David is back in town for what promises to be an unforgettable summer.

I have also had the privilege of seeing this cover, and I can honestly say it is one of the most jaw-droppingly gorgeous historical covers I have ever seen. I am DYING to share this… but must wait until I have the green light.

All that sounds terrific! Good luck with it!

For more information about Jennifer and her books, check out her website.  You can also find her on Facebook and connect with her on Twitter, where’s she’s @jenmcqwrites. 

Jennifer is giving a copy of What Happens in Scotland to one commenter today, so please answer one or more of the following (or just leave us a comment about whatever comes to mind from this post):  What’s your favorite book or movie set in Scotland?  Do you have a favorite “they woke up married” book or movie?


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  • Wow Jennifer! This sounds fabulous! Love the trailer – very sexy. I was just in Scotland last summer (research – purely research 🙂 ) I know Braveheart caused some nice healthy tourism and they’re hoping Brave will have the same effect. I haven’t seen Brave yet – but I want to.

  • Jennifer, I’m a little less than half through your book and am eager to see what happens when the h/h finally find each other. Will read a bit more before I turn in.

    My favorite movie with a Scottish setting is Highlander.

  • Helen Sibbritt says:

    Hi Jennifer

    I have heard lots of good things about this book and am eager to read it, I so love stories set in Scotland and it is one place I would love to visit.
    As for a favourite book set in Scotland the first one that comes to mind is Anna Campbell’s Claiming the Courtesan although not all in Scotland a big part is and I loved it and also Cathy Maxwell’s The Scottish Witch which I read recently I so loved. I am not sure that I have read a book with they woke up married before I am sure I have seen movies with this theme but for the life of me I can’t think of any at the moment.

    Congrats on the release and Nancy thanks for inviting Jennifer along to meet us and the TBR pile grows again I love it LOL

    Have Fun

  • Fedora says:

    That is hilarious, Jennifer! I’m definitely adding this to the TBR!

    I’ve enjoyed so many books set in Scotland! One more recent favorite is Carrie Lofty’s Starlight.

    And the “they woke up married” plot is a fun one! I will have to give some thought to recalling the specific books/titles 🙂

    • You Romance Bandits keep some very late hours! The postings are making me laugh… I would have to be roused at gunpoint to visit a blog at 1:45am. A morning person through and through, I actually get up early and write from 4-6am.

      I LOVE Carrie Lofty. She is an author I sometimes study for craft.

      • Anna Sugden says:

        We have visitors from all over the world, so the early posters are usually from Down Under or the West Coast, followed by those of us in Europe *g*.

    • Fedora, I think there was a “they woke up married” movie with Ashton Kutcher few years ago, but I can’t remember the title.

  • Mary Preston says:

    WHAT HAPPENS IN SCOTLAND does look fabulous & such a gorgeous cover too.

    I’ve always loved BRAVEHEART. A beautiful love story woven through the bloody & violent history.

    • That scene where is love is hauled off and looks for him just before her throat is cut?? That haunted me for years.


    • Mary, I’m enjoying What Happens in Scotland a lot. You know, I never saw Braveheart. It looked too tragic to me. And I knew it didn’t end well. Everyone who did see it said it was great.

  • Anna Sugden says:

    Hi Jennifer *waving* – great to see a fellow Starcatcher in the Lair and so excited about your book!

    Being English, Scottish settings are less appealing than say the American West or Down Under *g*, but I always read books by writer pals, so do read the occasional few. Our own Anna Campbell’s Claiming the Courtesan is a favourite with a Scottish setting.

    One of my favourite movies set in Scotland is Comfort and Joy – about the ice cream wars in Glasgow!

    • Hi Anna! I will have to check that movie out.

      James McAvoy is one of my favorite actors. I am going to count ANYTHING he is in as a Scottish movie. Fun fact imparted to me by Avon’s art department… the stepback art for What Happens in Scotland (you can see it in the video under the heading “a room in disarray” was apparently inspired by James McAvoy and Keira Knightly’s against-the-wall coupling in Atonement.

    • Anna, I’ve never seen Comfort and Joy, but I’m gathering from you and Jennifer that James McAvoy is in it? I loved him in X-Men: First Class.

  • Maureen says:

    I do like stories set in Scotland. One of my favorites is Jennifer Ashley’s Makenzie series.

  • I loved Gerri Russell’s The Warrior Trainer and her Scottish Templars series. Most of the Scottish romances I’ve read have been medievals. What Happens in Scotland is cool in that it isn’t. It’s a Victorian. I’m over halfway through and loving it.

  • Jennifer and I are in the GRW meeting this morning–she’s the featured speaker–so we’ll be gone for a bit. Chat amongst yourselves and enjoy Sven’s minosas and omelets to order, and we’ll be back later.

  • Tracy Brogan says:

    For those of you who have not picked up Jennifer’s book yet, I encourage you to do so! It wonderful and fun and romantic! I knew it was something special as she was writing it. And Summer is for Lovers is every bit as amazing!

  • Mozette says:

    What’s your favorite book or movie set in Scotland?

    Who needs a book or a movie set in gorgeous, mountainous Scotland when I’ve been there? I went there when I was in my early 20’s and loved it; adored it, photographed it from all angles and even went to the Edinburgh Tattoo! And yes… I got absolutely off my face, big gaps in my memory blotto, fall-down-get-up-again-and-nearly-let-a-Scotsman-show-me-what’s-under-his-kilt blotto drunk… but the hangover the next day (no I didn’t puke) was well worth it (or so I was told).

    Otherwise, if you’d like to know, my favourite movie is a tie-breaker between Braveheart and Highlander I and Highlander: End Game… they are all brilliant movies which make me cry.
    However, I’ve never read a book based in Scotland; only a poetry book where only Scottish-born poets were allowed to be published in it… and what poetry they wrote!

    Do you have a favorite “they woke up married” book or movie?

    No… I haven’t watched a movie like that I remember. Sorry. 🙁

    • Mozette, that’s a great story about the Edinburgh Tattoo. I hope to see it one day, but probably without the drunk Scotsman since the dh will be along. 🙂

      Highlander: Endgame was wonderful. I really loved it.

    • Mozette, it totally sounds like you could be my heroine, Lady Thorold! Black out drunk in a jovial Scottish tavern, waking up with a stranger, with a monstrous hangover to boot…

      And there, ladies, you have the opening to my book

      • Mozette says:

        You know, the funny thing is Jennifer, when I told that story to my family, my older brother laughed his head off and said, “Oh yeah, the only time you get off your face enough to have memory loss and have to be told what you did the night before, you had to go and do it outside of Australia! Right, the next time you travel, I’m coming with you, because it seems that when you go on your own, you have the Las Vegas Syndrome.” (you gals know that is, right? What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas…:P ).

  • Dianna aka Hrdwrkdmom says:

    I don’t have a favorite, if it is set in Scotland, I am good with that!
    To be honest I couldn’t name any one book that I can call favorite with any genre, every book is special to me in some regard, no way I can pick a favorite.
    I do have a weakness for a Highlander, naked and in my bed is icing on the cake….lol

  • Diane Sallans says:

    My first favorite Scottish movie was Brigadoon – too bad it wasn’t filmed in Scotland to get the glorious scenery. The TV series Monarch of the Glen did show a lot of the countryside which was a great impetous to make a visit.

  • Becke says:

    Sorry I missed you at GRW this month, but we had grandchildren duty yesterday.

    I bought Brave for the boys, but I loved the heroine with her assertive attitude. It was delightful even if it was a mother daughter story.

    I’ll show my age, but I fell in love with historicals because of Julie Garwood. The Bride, The Wedding, and The Secret were set in Scotland. For more recent reads, I agree with Nancy on Gerri Russell’s The Warrior Trainer.

    Wonderful cover and great trailer. Loved the snippets-very intriguing. Congratulations.

  • Rebecca Rankin says:

    I love to read. I am always looking for new authors and/or books.
    I would love to win your book. As I have not read any Scottish books.

  • Ah, Scotland…

    Hello Jennifer and Nancy. You’ve hit upon the vacation destination of a lifetime for me. This truly is my dream vacation.

    AS for books about Scotland? My favorite book in the whole world, (read it 29 times now) is Saving Grace by Julie Garwood. LOVE IT!

    BUT, I have the best seat in the world to the stories by another great writer who loves, (literally) sexy Scotsmen and Scottish historical romances…(hers with a bit of a twist.) My very good friend and Critique Partner, Sandy Blair is one of the best Scottish historical and paranormal writers I’ve ever read. AND I get the pleasure and privileged of being the FIRST EVER to read her books as she writes them. 🙂

    She just republished two of them as The Laird and The Rogue both of the Blackstone Castle Novel series. (Formerly know as A Man In A Kilt and A Rogue In A Kilt.) She is working on another brand-spanking-new book in this series The Warrior Can’t wait to read it!!!

    • Hi, Suz–Isn’t it fun when a friend does well? I’d love to explore Scotland, and I do want to see the Edinburgh Tattoo someday.

    • Oooh, those sound so GOOD! Must put them on my growing list.

      I had the privilege of visiting Scotland in 2001, when I spent a month in northern England. I loved the country and the culture. McQuiston is a married name for me, but I also count strong Scottish ancestry on my side of the family. 🙂

  • catslady says:

    Oh, my favorite type of read. Great trailer!!! I hate to pick favorites because there are so many wonderful ones out there. I will say Julie Garwood since most of us have read her books!

  • melody may says:

    I love reading books set in Scotland. They’re always fun. The ones I have enjoyed have been from Karen Hawkins.

    I love the cover of your book and its been on my to get list. Congrats on your new book. 😀

    • Hi, Melody–isn’t that a great cover? Do you have a favorite among Karen’s historicals?

    • Thanks so much Melody, I admit to being floored (and honored) to get such a beautiful cover… and equally beautiful stepback art. 🙂 But I will say this in all honesty: wait until you see the cover for book #2, Summer is for Lovers. It blows this one out of the water, pardon the cliché (but it’s a cliché that fits!)

  • Joan Kayse says:

    Hi Jennifer! Welcome to The Lair? My cat Cricket has a twitch in her whiskers…:D

    Your book sounds really fun and I applaud ALL non-classic settings. Tell me, have you been to Scotland to gain the feel of the matter…so to speak?

    • Joan, this is definitely a non-classc setting, seeing as it’s a Scottish Victorian, but I thought it worked extremely well.

    • I HAVE been to Scotland, waaay back in in 2001. I was working in Northumberland at the time, and took some holiday time to travel in Scotland, making the Loch Ness loop and tracing some of my ancestral haunts. I am thrilled my first published novel features Scotland!

  • CateS says:

    Count me in as a lover of Scotland.. I remember seeing Braveheart… that movie’s scenery was spectacular!

  • Barbara Elness says:

    I loved the movie Rob Roy and I’ve read quite a lot of books that were set in Scotland. Lynn Kurland’s A Dance Through Time, Melissa Mayhue’s Daughters of the Glen books, and Karen Hawkin’s MacLean Curse series are among them.

  • Beth Andrews says:

    Welcome to the lair, Jennifer! Congratulations on the release of What Happens in Scotland – sounds fabulous! I can’t wait to read it *g*

    I, too, adore James McAvoy – loved him in Penelope 🙂

    Since we recently watched Brave again I’ll pick that as one of my very favorite movies set in Scotland!

  • Hi Jennifer! Hi Nancy! Jennifer, what a fascinating day job! Wow! And you had me with ‘in Scotland’. Bit of a Scottishophile, myself. Have you ever been there? Beautiful country! Actually I’m going old school with my favorite Scottish books – the Lymond series by Dorothy Dunnett. Fantastic books!

  • Quilt Lady says:

    Its a beautiful day here today, but I think its going to get cold tonight.

    I am not sure I have a favorite book set in Scotland, but I really enjoy this setting in a book. I will say that Maya Banks has a great Scotland series that I have read that I really enjoyed. I read a series by Nora Roberts set in Scotland years ago but can’t remember the name of it.

  • Quilt Lady, we’re in that season where the days are pleasant to quite warm while the nights can be very chilly. It’s time to dress in layers!

    I haven’t read Nora’s Scottish books or Maya Banks’s. My list to check out just keeps getting longer!

  • Caren Crane says:

    Jennifer, welcome to the Lair and congrats on the fabulous debut book and three-book Avon deal. Way to be awesome! Also, you have the coolest job ever. You and your DH both working for the CDC is my kind of a geeky, romantic good time. 🙂

    I love Scottish stories and will readily admit that I love them because of Julie Garwood’s and Teresa Madeiros’ Scottish medievals. They were all so wonderful! Plus, of course, Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. Talk about romance for nerd girls! 😀

    By the way, the book trailer is fantastic and hot, hot, hot! I am heading off to Amazon now to get my copy of What Happened In Scotland! Looking forward to seeing you back when the cover for Summer Is For Lovers is revealed!

    • Caren, I really love that trailer, and I enjoyed What Happens in Scotland immensely.

    • Caren, thank you so much! My husband put that book trailer together as my Valentine’s Day present, which is probably why it’s so hot, LOL! Leave it to a man. But I admit to loving it, and it definitely captures the mood of the book. He’s a video fiddler, getting the timing of the pics *just* right. He is also an awesome photographer and took the ring and brandy shots himself.

      I have pretty much decided to keep him. After all, I need two more book trailers!

      Hope you enjoy What Happens in Scotland… it was a kicking fun book to write. 🙂

  • Cassondra Murray says:

    Hi Nancy, and welcome Jennifer!

    I don’t actually recall reading a “woke up married” story before. Strange that I haven’t, as they’re a popular trope, but I can’t think of one.

    Let me just say that as a rule, I don’t generally pay much attention to book trailers, but if I were not going to buy your book before, I would do so after seeing that trailer. That’s just intriguing, so great job!

    This sounds fascinating, and I’m off to grab my Kindle.

    And huge congrats on your auction and may you become a #1 bestseller right off the bat!

    • Cassondra, isn’t that a great trailer? I think there have been several “they woke up married” movies, but I can’t think of any titles.

    • Cassondra, thank you so much for those kind words on the trailer! My husband put that trailer together for me as a Valentine’s Day present. True love = hot book trailer. I admit it, I could watch it over and over again. He is already rubbing his hands together plotting the trailer for Summer is for Lovers.

  • Marcy Shuler says:

    Don’t enter me i the contest as I have already read and loved your book, Jennifer. Now I’m eagerly looking forward to SUMMER IS FOR LOVERS.

    THE HIGHLAND WIFE by Lyn Stone and
    THE SECRET by Julie Garwood are two more of my favorite Scottish romances.

    • Marcy, thanks for letting us know you already have What Happens in Scotland. I’m looking forward to Summer is For Lovers, too!

    • Hi Marcy! I am eagerly awaiting Summer is for Lovers too… and really trying to wrap my head around finishing book #3, which will be Patrick Channing’s story (the vet from What Happens in Scotland). It will be called Moonlight on My Mind.

  • LilMissMolly says:

    Outlander by Dianna Gabaldon

  • Laurie G says:

    Books Karen Hawkins Maclean Curse series- Sleepless In Scotland, To Catch a Highlander, Scandal In Scotland, The Laird Who Loved Me, To Scotland With Love

    Favorite= Hugh’s story.

    Movie- definitely Mel Gibson as William Wallace in Braveheart.

  • Laurie G says:

    I also love books by Karen Ranney, Joanna Lindsay,Lyndsay Sands, Jen Holling and Julianne MacLean.

  • Linda Thum says:

    My fav movie set in Scotland is Braveheart. Hard to list a fav book (too many?)

    When I read “veterinarian” & “molecular microbiology” my jaw dropped & my 1st thought was romance author? Historical romance at that….!

    • Hahaha… truly, it sounds worse than it is. The technical term for my job is “epidemiologist”. And we are so totally the free-thinkers, fly-by-the-seat of our pants scientists… most of us tend to be fairly creative!