Title: The Back Up Plan: Giving Up? Or Moving On?

Author: Elsie McArthur

Describe the book in one word: Beautiful

Recommended: Yes!

Star rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

Publisher: Self-published!

Release date: 17th January 2020


Giving up? Or moving on? That is 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!


First off, I would like to say ‘thank you’ to Clare for putting me in contact with Elsie, who very kindly gifted me a copy of her book in exchange for an honest review. Secondly, I do not often start reviews like this, but I feel I must apologise to Elsie for how long it has taken me to post this review (I’m so sorry!). It is entirely disproportionate to how much I enjoyed reading it. It is more a reflection of me taking too much on and failing to juggle everything.

On with the review! The Back Up Plan: Giving Up? Or Moving On? Is a solid 4.5 stars in my humble bookish opinion. Full disclosure, I do not usually read romance novels, but I am so glad I read this one! It was the escapist, romantic adventure to the highlands of Scotland and beyond that I did not realise I needed until I was there.

What I love most about this book are the characters, the locations, the descriptive language, and the relatability. I am not saying I am Marsaili, or that Marsaili is me, but I do find her relatable as someone who is in their late twenties / early thirties. I think most of us reach a point (at some point) where things must change. I think it’s also fair to say many of us relate to the notion of setting out on a path and finding the destination is not what we thought it would be, or we simply change our minds along the way.

In a world where we have far more choice and options than previous generations, it can feel liberating and overwhelming all at the same time. This is captured beautifully within the book. Being in limbo is not ideal for anyone, of any age. But I think once a solution has been found or decision made, it can feel like a weight has been lifted. It is a process, and that is what we witness with Marsaili. She is on a journey and we go along with her, through the highs and lows.

I loved Marsaili’s stubbornness and the way she stayed true to herself. I felt she was misguided at times, putting her trust in the wrong people, but this is reality. I loved the setting(s) of the book. Simply put, I love Scotland and the Scots. I have friends in Edinburgh and Glasgow, so I felt that connection to the book too. For me, I will always love Scotland and the kindness extended to myself from Scottish people. There is an undeniable comradery. So, this book transported me to happy times, places, and memories.

Within this book there were twists and turns reflective of real life, particularly of a life where people must rediscover themselves. Both Will and Marsaili are struggling with their identities but for different reasons. It is not explicitly stated but they are akin to two lost souls who find each other and give each other the time and space they need to grow into their new selves. The only question is whether they can reconcile their pasts to move forward together.

I am not going to giveaway any spoilers, but I will say the ending surprised me.

All in all, The Back Up Plan: Giving up? Or Moving On? Is a gripping tale of ‘will they, won’t they,’ which caused me to turn the pages faster and faster. I could not put this book down and I am very much looking forward to reading Elsie’s next book Love on the Rocks, which is available to buy and download now!

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