Rating: 5 stars
Jackson Stuart is on a trip of a lifetime. As a doctoral student in Celtic studies at Boston University, he jumps at a chance to accompany his professor to the Scottish Highland Games for research and field work. From the moment, Jackson and Dr. McKenzie land on Dunoon Pier, Jackson feels like he has come home. And then he crashes head on into a gorgeous ginger haired man in a kilt who leaves him fair puckled. The way Jackson feels he may never go home again.
Bella Leone does an outstanding job of giving the reader a generous dose of Scotland in 19 pages. From the scenery to the language, she transports the reader into the center of the Highland games and the heart of Jackson Stuart. Where others would give us a sketch in the same short length, Leone manages to give us fully fleshed out characters who hook us in and make us care about their future once the story ends. The raucous nature of the games, along with the sweat and concentration come through beautifully as do the Scottish people themselves. In fact, I find it very much to be a love note to Scotland with the start of what promises to be a great relationship tossed into the proceedings.
I would like to see a sequel but I can imagine what takes place after the story ends as well as Leone generously left us many hints as to the path Jackson will take. I loved this short story and think you will too. It left me as fair puckled as Jackson Stuart. That would be the Scottish term for short of breath!