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Publisher's Summary

After the recent death of her mother and the dissolution of her marriage, 30-something Eden Elliott is seriously in need of a fresh start. At the urging of her best friend, best-selling author Ami Pederson, Eden decides to embark on an open-ended trip to the picturesque village of Glenkillen in the Scottish Highlands, to do some hands-on research for a book of her own. But almost as soon as Eden arrives in the quaint town, she gets caught up in a very real drama....

The town's sheep shearer is found murdered - clipped with his own shears - and the locals suspect Vicki MacBride, an outsider whose father's recent death left her the surprise heir to his lucrative sheep farm. Eden refuses to believe the affable heiress is a murderer, but can she prove that someone is out to frame her new friend before she finds herself on the receiving end of more shear terror?

©2014 Deb Baker (P)2018 Tantor

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Beatrice
  • Houston, TX, United States
  • 04-05-18

Great Start

I really enjoyed this delightful cozy mystery. The characters are well developed and engaging. The plot is well paced and entertaining. The mystery is light with the right amount of humor and suspense. I'm glad I listened to this book and will get the next one.

23 of 23 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

And yet I enjoyed it...

This isn't actually a very well plotted mystery. It meanders. Some of the plot points are too heavy-handed. It has the obligatory romance. It spends a lot of time on pointless details. The plot was a bit predictable...

...and yet I enjoyed it.

The book sweeps you away to the highlands, does a good job of creating scene and then populates it with interesting characters. The mystery plotting could be tighter, but it was good enough not to drop me out of the story.

She also avoids some the most annoying tropes in modern cozies.
The heroine is not stupid or spineless and largely avoids doing really stupid things
The local cop is not incompetent or obnoxious or dismissive.
The romance is not "insta-love" or juvenile (instant attraction, yes, instant undying love, no).

It was well worth the credit.

The narrator did a good job.

53 of 55 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Dundee Cake, Rich Shortbread, Irish Tea

If you want to re visit Scotland or get a hint of a vacation stay in the highlands, then this book is for you. It’s the unsalted butter in Shortbread and the wonderful highland milk in your tea that makes you remember or want to visit. (Tea, 1 bag per cup plus 1 for for the pot cover with tea cozy)
I purchased this book on sale due to Ms Dawe wonderful Scottish brogue. I can’t get enough of her reads where I know the male lead speaks. She is wonderful in this book.
My fave, Nora Roberts MacGregor series which I re listen to all!

This author is not for me, except she does reference all my favorites treats in the book when visiting the highlands, including Scottish Whiskey. YUM, take notes.
This is a light mystery that takes you right into the pub. The characters are delightful, and you must love to be immersed right into the crowd to appreciate this story and the backroads of the countryside.
Note, I do use the 1.25x speed to match the author’s intent.
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14 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent start to a new series

Hannah Reed has crafted a story that is an excellent start to a new series. The characters are well developed and seem more like friends than fictional characters. I highly recommend this book/audiobook to cozy mystery fans.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Clichées, bad research and stupidity

Let's get to the summary first: while in many aspects I liked the book and the mystery, there were so many small but crucial points that so utterly annoyed me, that giving it even a remotely good rating is simply inmpossible. That is to say: apart from the narrator. Angela Dawe does quite a fine job and helped me get through to the end.

One of the many preconceptions (deserved or not) Europeans have about Americans is that they are shallow, think they know everything while having no idea what goes on in the world beyond the borders of their own country. And while reality mostly isn't as cut and dried as the prejudice suggests, Hannah Reed aka Deb Baker probably will not be happy to know that she made a big step towards reinforcing this preconception with this book - in my eyes at least.

If one thing is obvious, it's that the author has never been to Scotland and whoever did the research for t ... let's face facts: noone did any research whatsoever on this book apart maybe from opening GoogleMaps and having a look at the surroundings of Inverness. First there are no real desciptions of what anything looks like. Everytime a place is mentioned it is described in generic nondescpit terms like "beautiful" or "breathtaking". It was so bland I had no idea what to create in my mind (well apart from the fact that I HAD been to Scotland before) Also all the people weren't really there. Size, skin color, hair, beard, voice, clothes. I had no idea what to make of them.

The rest is neat package of clichées. The houses are small, the roads are narrow, driving on the left side of the road is confusing and difficult, men wear kilts (well some do sometimes), everyone drives small (old) cars or Land Rovers, people drink a lot of beer and whiskey in the pub and half of them are drunkards, the local inn is quaint but nice, there's a monster living in Loch Ness, it's cold and rains a lot, and there are a lot of sheep. ... Daaahhh!!

On a different note I'm still debating with myself whether calling a shop for wool products "Sheepish Expressions" is something a Scot would do ...

Now for the researcher: FYI the units used in the US today are not American units but derived from the British Imperial system of units. So while in this book our protagonist struggles with the metric system in reality in the UK (and thus also in Scotland) speed and distances are measured in miles, yards and feet, and with every day things like with food and drink imperial units are still the norm. The metric system is mainly used in manufacturing, industry, trade etc. So the beer will be in a pint glass, and the food will be measured in ounces and pounds, room sizes in square feet etc. Only fuel is measured in litres. Would have been less thing to worry about.

The story itself was nothing special. I liked the idea of the freshly divorced woman being more or less coerced for her own good to take a vacation and stumbling on a murder. But the whole thing has "lack of imagination" and "predictability" written all over it. Making matters worse, the protagonist sometimes is a tad daft, and her constant self-concious internal conversation really started to get on my nerves. Don't get me wrong: it's ok to be insecure if your life is in shambles and you are in a foreign place, but she might have been better off with a specialst, a vacation probably won't do. Especially if people start dropping dead around her and someone's trying to kill her. If I were more of a chauvinist I might also say she needs to get laid, and that's definitely something that can be easily arranged in this case. However since I will be returning this book and will refrain from reading any more of this series (or this author) I will never find out.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A delightful trip to Scotland and a murder too!

In <strong>Off Kilter</strong> by Hannah Reed, Eden Elliott has been given a gift of a trip to Glenkillen, Scotland to do research for the romance novel set in Scotland she has started to write. While on the plane, she meets Vicki MacBride, who is moving from London to Glenkillen after having been left her father's entire estate of an extensive sheep farm. His children by his second wife got nothing. In dismay, after Eden arrives, she discovers that the car rental carries only manual transmissions, and she has never driven such a car, leading her to break down along the way. Fortunately a gorgeous Scottish man stops to help her as she is kicking the car. Leith Cameron and his border collie Kelly take Eden into Glenkillen, and after getting settled into the inn, Eden spots the funeral procession for Vicki's father, complete with bagpipes playing "Amazing Grace."

Suddenly deciding to offer her support to Vicki, Eden follows to the cemetery and from there to the pub for the after- funeral reception. After a fight between Vicki and her half- sister, Eden follows to be with Vicki as her new friend storms out. The pair soon ends up at the home of Vicki's family friend, Gavin Mitchell, the local sheep shearer who was the one to notify Vicki about her father's death. Every house on the block is lit up except Gavin's. Then they find the back door wide open, so Eden goes in, only to find the body of Gavin Mitchell covered in blood and stabbed with his sheep shears and sending Vicki into screams.

After being cleared by Inspector Jamison, Eden finds that everyone in Glenkillen seems to think that Vicki is responsible and Eden complicit, especially when someone sets fire to Eden's hotel room bathroom, forcing Eden to take up residence in the farmhouse Vicki has inherited. The more Vicki seems in trouble, the more Eden determines to fight on behalf of her new friend.

I enjoyed my great trip to Scotland with Eden as she visits Glenkillen. The mystery plot kept me riveted and drawn to the book in anticipation. It had several creative twists to it that I really enjoyed. I found myself changing my guess as to the identity of the killer more than once during the book, and the solution gave me a surprise.

The characters in this book are drawn realistically, making me feel that I could recognize them if I ran into them in the street. Seeing Scotland and the people in it through the eyes of Eden gives us a good look into the country, allowing Reed to teach us words and types of food as Eden learns these for herself.

The countryside of Scotland acts as a main character itself. We get to see the mountains and drive through the windy roads along the seashore in terror with Eden. We also get to experience visiting a sheep farm and meeting a real sheep dog.

I enjoyed the performance of Angela Dawe in the audio edition of this book. She shifts smoothly between the American accent of Eden, the mostly- London accent of Vicki, and the Scottish accents of Leif and other locals. The book refers to certain individuals, such as Vicki's half- sister and - brother, as having less of a brogue than most other Scottish people. Further, John, married to half- sister Kirsteen, is from North Wales and has his own accent. Through all this, Dawe successfully navigates the complicated world of accents. But that is not all of Dawe's strengths. She sounds effective in her role of Eden as the American tries to do her own sleuthing and also as she tries to write her own romance novel, getting writer's block about writing a sex scene yet imagining herself with the handsome and dashing Leith.

I really appreciated getting to listen to <strong>Off Kilter</strong> and visit Scotland with Eden and her friends. I am looking forward to getting to listen to the next book in the series. I give this book five stars.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Love the characters & setting. Bought the 2nd book

I received a free copy of Off Kilter. This review is freely given and reflects my honest opinion of the production.

There are lots of stories about women starting over after a bad divorce. Usually, the protagonist dolls herself up and looks for a man. Not so for Eden Elliott. At her friend's instigation, she heads to the Scottish Highlands to write a contemporary romance involving good-looking men in kilts. She, however, is not on the lookout.

En route, she meets a woman traveling to the same village to take possession of her father's estate following his death. She and Daddy have been apart for years, so why did he disinherit his children from a second marriage and leave it all to Eden's new acquaintance? The premise is intriguing and the story spirals up from there, when the heiress and Eden discover a dead body and they become suspects.

I enjoyed the characters immensely and the Scottish setting was very engaging. I like that Eden is a strong woman, in spite of the hard knocks she's endured. She is a great foil for the rather weak heiress. There is a hint of pending romance for Eden, but nothing that Is obvious in this first book.

I enjoyed Off Kilter so much that I went ahead and bought the second audiobook, Hooked on Ewe. The narrator does a great job with the various accents and voices. I definitely want more from this author, and that seems to be a rarity for me among free audiobooks.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Debbie
  • Toney, Alabama
  • 06-16-18

Kilts, Kindness and a Killer

When visiting American author, Eden Elliott is the only one to show kindness to Vicki McBride, who seems to have inherited all of her late father's sheep farm and business, the whole village eyes her with suspicion. Especially the rest of the McBride family. When someone sets fire to the inn where she is staying and Eden narrowly escapes, the innkeepers blame the fire on her and banish her from the premises. Moving to the farm with Vicki, Eden attempts to stay on her writing schedule and submit a chapter to her friend and publisher back in the states, but seems to be at a stalemate. But the mishaps and danger continues, proving that someone is out to get Vicki or Eden, or maybe both. With Vicki's siblings taking her to court over the will of her late father, the death of the local sheep shearer and continuing mishaps, tensions are running high in Glenkillen. And the local police just don't seem to be getting to the bottom of it . . . the laid back ways of the Scottish versus the ways of us Americans are very apparent in this cozy mystery . . . the atmosphere of the Scottish highlands wash over you, despite the hunt for a killer . . . I love the tale . . . and that it is a clean one, with Eden trying to write a love scene . . . and failing . . . although local farmer and fisherman, Leith Cameron (who looks dashing in a kilt) fueled her imagination . . . as with murder mysteries, things are not what they seem . . . and people are not WHO they seem . . . and I was pleasantly surprised and satisfied with the outcome of this whodunit . . .

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

lots of fun!

The narrator does a wonderful job with the accents! The story is fast-paced and fun.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

I wanted to smack the lead character

The plucky American was so contradictory in an effort to be full of personality. I have noticed this in other recent books. The author makes her say a pronouncement about herself which she promptly acts in such a way to make that pronouncement meaningless. I liked the setting, though.