An American in Scotland By Lucy Connelly: Review/Giveaway/Interview

Apr 8, 2023 | 2023 Articles, Kathleen Costa, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Kathleen Costa

This week we have a review of An American in Scotland: A Scottish Isle Mystery By Lucy Connelly, along with an interesting interview with Lucy. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of the book and a link to purchase it from Amazon.

An American in Scotland: A Scottish Isle Mystery By Lucy Connelly

Dr. Emilia McRoy regretted nothing about moving from Seattle to Scotland trading a busy ER life for that of a small-town country doctor. She thought her family originated from Scotland, but beyond that, it took one of those DNA tests to prove her roots. So, when the call came from a recruiter offering a job, it was goodbye comfort zone, hello Sea Isle! She knew her residence and office would be connected, but was surprised to find it was actually a converted church. The town lost its previous doctor a few years ago, and since a change was what Em needed, it was a perfect fit … well, it was a surprise to find her kitchen window faced a very old cemetery.

An American in Scotland Earns 5/5 Scottish Breakfasts … Engaging Gem!
Yikes! Exploring her new office/home, she was startled by a bearded figure running passed her window, and later when she sees the man at the pub, she’s shocked by his reaction. Everyone had a friendly greeting for her, including some hugs, but Smithy was more on the grumpy side, growling, “You won’t be here for very long.” It’s not her being an American, a doctor, or even a woman that angered him; it was the fact she was a McRoy. Em learns of a fifty-year-old feud that surrounding a card game resulting in significant losses and the death of the local vicar, a McRoy. Smithy had a strong motive for the man’s death, but his guilt couldn’t be proven.

A couple hours later, Em goes out for a walk to enjoy the highland landscape, but a sudden rainstorm has her running for cover in an abandoned “bothy.” There she finds Smithy, dead, with a gash on his head. Close by is a dog startling her enough to cause her to scream alerting anyone nearby. Anyone is Ewan Campbell, tall, handsome, and owner of the bothy, as well as the deputy chief constable, mayor, laird of Sea Isle, and her employer. She starts to leave the scene to him, but is stopped. Along with ministering the the living, she’s also the coroner; should’ve read the fine print. But, she’s not going to be bullied by Mr. Highlander into a quick death certificate. It’s not a drunken accident. Smithy was murdered. The next day it gets more complicated. Em finds she needs to delay the autopsy. Smithy is missing, and the accusation she may be involved puts her uncomfortably in the hot seat. Welcome to Scotland!

Highland Hit! Lucy Connelly’s first book in her Scottish Isle Mystery was an engaging and fun cozy with the Scottish highlands as the backdrop, a small town dynamic, a controlling, yet handsome, laird of the land, and a ex-pat doctor navigating it all. I like having the crime discovered early in the story, with some interesting motives linked to the new doctor, and since Em and Ewan immediately are at odds with each other, their partnership is an intriguing mix of tension, snarky retorts, and a fight for control, and with the body gone, there’s an added dimension that ramped up the intensity. Secrets, hidden agendas, interesting connections, a cold case death, and an ancestry search make for this a very intriguing read.

Lucy Connelly writes well depicting the rural environment, the unpredictable weather, and a diverse, multigenerational cast of characters. To enrich the drama and provide informal opportunities to garner clues and insights, Connelly includes everyday experiences: enjoying treats and gossip at the tea shop, exploring tartan patterns, learning to drive in a left side world, interacting with patients, hanging out at the pub, and participating in the annual “Gathering.” Romance is an important element to me, and Em has a few interesting options. There’s a couple of shop owners who are very friendly, but the dark horse is Ewan; nothing like a bit of tension to inflame the emotions. Em is not your traditional amateur detective; as a doctor, she has the skill set to scrutinize a crime scene, examine a victim’s remains, and evaluate evidence, and mentioning she had her “detective sergeant’s degree from BritBox” made me giggle out loud … that’s were I got mine with an additional degree thru AcornTV!

Be a Big Lucy Connelly Fan!
Lucy Connelly loves to travel, and through these experiences, she finds the inspiration for her mystery books.

Kathleen Costa is a long-time resident of the Central Valley, and although born in Idaho, she considers herself a “California Girl.” Graduating from CSU-Sacramento, she is 35+ year veteran teacher having taught in grades 1-8 in schools from Sacramento to Los Angeles to Stockton to Lodi. Currently Kathleen is enjoying year 2 of retirement revitalizing hobbies along with exploring writing, reading for pleasure, and spending 24/7 with her husband of 26+ years.

Interview with Lucy Connelly:

KRL: How long have you been writing?

Lucy: I’ve been a journalist for 32 years and writing fiction since 2004.

KRL: When did your first novel come out, what was it called, and would you tell us a little about it?

Lucy: My first novel, Charmed & Dangerous, came out with Berkley in 2005. The book is about a powerful witch who protects the British Prime Minister and spends a great deal of time saving the men in her life.

KRL: Have you always written mysteries/suspense and if not, what else have you written?

Lucy: Many of my books throughout the years under Candace Havens, had a suspense or mystery element in them. But I didn’t start writing mysteries until 2019 or so. I’d been writing romance novels and I’d burned out. I’ve always loved mysteries and thrillers. I found the challenge fun and it helped renew my love of writing fiction.

Lucy Connelly

KRL: What brought you to choose the setting and characters in your latest book/series?

Lucy: An American in Scotland was born out of Covid times. I was stuck at home wishing I was anywhere else, but around that same time I discovered I had Scottish ancestry. Once I had the setting, a small town in Scotland, the world just came alive in my head one day and I wrote it all down. I created a proposal and sent it to my agent. The rest is history!

KRL: Do you write to entertain or is there something more you want the readers to experience from your work?

Lucy: I definitely write to entertain, but I do it to explore themes in life, as well. Sometimes I don’t always realize it. One theme that runs through these books that I love, is creating a family from the friends you make. People who are ride or die, and will do anything for you. And you would do anything for them. I hope that readers feel that sense of surrounding yourself with good people and living your best life in this mystery series. Yes, there are dead bodies, but there is a lot that happens around that.

KRL: Do you have a schedule for your writing or just work whenever you can?

Lucy: I write every day, even on weekends. I look at my work as something I get to do, not have to do. I love going into these worlds and hanging out with the characters. They are very real in my head – by the way, my therapist says that’s fine! (Smile)

KRL: What is your ideal time to write?

Lucy: Until a few years ago, I always wrote late at night. Always – but after a run-in with Lupus a few years ago, that changed. My best time to write is between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. during the day. That’s not to say I won’t work late when on a deadline, but I try to make those hours count every day.

KRL: Do you outline? If not, do you have some other interesting way that you keep track of what’s going on, or what needs to happen in your book when you are writing it?

Lucy: I write a synopsis for my editor, which gives me a guideline for writing the book. Outlines are a bit too formal for me, and I wouldn’t stick to them anyway. As I write, the book comes to me like a movie in my head. The dialogue and action, even the introspection of the characters. While I can write a general synopsis of events, most of the book comes to me as I write it. I do keep a running list of characters and plot points in my Notes on my computer and a brief description of those things. That way I have instant access if I forget a name or eye color.

KRL: Did you find it difficult to get published in the beginning?

Lucy: I did not. I know that’s unusual, but I was lucky in that my first book made my very pregnant editor laugh and they fast tracked the book. It was published within a year at Berkley. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve had a lot of ups and downs with my writing career. It has not always been easy, but I was incredibly lucky with that first book. I also had a great many mentors who helped me get the book to a point where an editor might like it.

KRL: Do you have a great rejection/critique or acceptance story you’d like to share?

Lucy: I truly believe one of the reasons I published so quickly was that I joined the DFW Writer’s Workshop. All types of genres are represented in that group and it is a great resource and support for writers. If I could make those cowboys laugh at my sexy witch, then I knew I was on the right track. Get your work critiqued by people who know what they are doing.

As for acceptance, my first book went to auction the week of Thanksgiving in 2004. That’s where editors are bidding on your book. It was crazy and wonderful. Everyone says publishing stops during the holidays. I didn’t eat much that Thanksgiving I was so nervous, and we had a deal that next week.

KRL: Most interesting book signing story-in a bookstore or other venue?

Lucy: I was at a convention doing a book signing with a hundred other authors. A young woman came running down the aisle yelling, “Oh, my, God, I can’t believe you are here!” She was carrying an armful of books and I was curious where she might land with all of that excitement. Then she stopped in front of my table and proceeded to tell me how much she loved me and my books. It was one of the best moments of my career.

KRL: That’s awesome! What are your future writing goals?

Lucy: I’m on the mystery train. I love this new series and the characters so much. I hope we sell a lot of books so I can write twenty more, at least. My agent is also shopping another series set in Ireland. When that one sells, I’ll be super busy, and very happy.

KRL: Who are your writing heroes?

Lucy: I have so many. Jodi Thomas, Linda Castillo, and so many others. I couldn’t possibly list them all there, but everyone from Stephen King to James Patterson. I’ve learned so much from all of them.

KRL: What kind of research do you do?

Lucy: I’ll be honest, in the early days of my writing, I only did a small amount of research. But with these mysteries, I do a great deal. I know many ways to kill someone, and how to dispose of the evidence. With the American in Scotland series, I’ve done so much research on Scotland, I feel like I’ve lived there. And she’s a doctor and coroner so I’ve learned a great deal about those professions, as well.

KRL: What do you like to read?

Lucy: Everything. I’m usually reading two or three books at once. I go back and forth between fiction and nonfiction. I’ve been reading mysteries and thrillers lately, but also books by Eckhart Tolle and Gretchen Rubin.

KRL: What are your favorite TV shows or movies?

Lucy: I’ve been covering TV and film for print and radio for 30 years or so. It’s tough for me to pick favorites. Some of my favorite movies are The Matrix and Mary Poppins. Those represent the two sides of my personality in a way. Television wise, I’m a big fan of thrillers like The Night Agent. That’s a current favorite.

KRL: Have you any advice for aspiring or beginning writers?

Lucy: Hone your craft. Take classes and attend conventions. Learn from people who have the kind of success you want for yourself. A lot of people talk about writing, but very few actually sit down and do it. The more you write, the better you will become, and find a good critique group.

KRL: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

Lucy: I used to be a dancer. I went to the High School for Performing and Visual Arts. That discipline of being a dancer helped make me the writer I am today.

KRL: Do you have any pets?

Lucy: I have a shiatzu named Elvis and our new puppy Mr. Poe, who is the cutest being on the planet.

KRL: Is there anything you would like to add?

Lucy: It’s important to follow your dreams but be smart about it. Whatever you’re writing, know your market. What books are selling? Why are they selling? When you figure this out, you’ll be ahead of the game.

KRL: Website? Twitter? Facebook? Instagram?

Lucy: Website:
Instagram: @lucyconnellybooks
Twitter: @candacehavens

To enter to win a copy of An American in Scotland by Lucy Connelly make a comment below about an experience you had in a foreign country: (1) a local food enjoyed, (2) an interesting resident met, or (3) an exciting adventure had. If you’ve not left your own backyard, what foreign country is at the top of your bucket list?
Or you can simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “american.” A winner will be chosen April 15, 2023. U.S. residents only, and you must be 18 or older to enter.You can read our privacy statement here if you like.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Also listen to our new mystery podcast where mystery short stories and first chapters are read by actors! They are also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify. A new episode went up this week.

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Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. I haven’t left the United State. If I were to travel somewhere else it would be to Canada, Finland, Sweden, or Norway. I would want to stay in an ice hotel where I could see the northern lights too. First I would have to do research to see where my best chance to see them would be. thank you for the chance!

  2. I’d like to visit Japan.

    • I’d love to go to Ireland and Scotland. I have ancestry from both. Thanks for the chance.

  3. Visiting Italy for the first time ever was a memorable experience. Touring Venice and the Ghetto which is very historical and fascinating was wonderful. My best ever meal was a local grilled fish dinner with fresh veggies.

  4. I’ve been to Scotland and thought it
    was a beautiful country. Nothing
    unexpected happened. I was also
    in Ireland and enjoyed the Guinness
    in the pubs every night I was there.
    Love books set in overseas countries.
    thanks. txmlhl(at)yahoo(dot)com

  5. The only foreign country I’ve been to is Canada. My school choir took a trip to Montreal to sing in a beautiful old church. I wish I had taken pictures.
    I’d love to travel to England or Scotland!

    • I have only traveled to British Columbia when I was a teen and loved it.
      If I could travel now it would include places like England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

  6. When I traveled to Greece I enjoyed simple, but tasty meals that were extremely flavorful and healthy. I miss those dishes.

  7. The food in Scotland is wonderful. Local chefs preparing healthy food and I think that Scottish Meat Pies are the best in the world.

    • Sounds great! An awesome setting and an atmospheric cover. This is going on my wishlist.
      I’ve only been to Germany so far (loved the Döner and Eis) but Ireland, Scotland, England, Italy, Australia are just a few places on my bucket list.

  8. I have traveled extensively through Mexico from the 1950s until 2000 (when it was safe). It is a beautiful country that has been ruined by the Mexican government and the cartels. We lived in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, so it was very close to us. I went on a 2-week 3000-mile trip with my parents and aunt in my late twenties. My father and I were doing a walking tour in Veracruz Mexico where we were pointing out something to each other and discussing it. A man from a British Caribbean Island (he had a strong British accent) came up to us and started talking to us. Then he asked my father if I was his mistress. What a hoot.

  9. The only foreign country I’ve been to is Canada. I would really like to visit is Nepal. I would like to see Mount Everest, not to climb it, just to see it.

  10. We have a winner!


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