The magical Scottish Highlands bloom vividly to life in COME FILL UP MY CUP by Jean Murray Munden, with descriptions detailed enough to that enable readers to feel almost as if they were there. The location is rich in snowbound winters, muddy roads, and the rushing rivers of springtime and the codes of conduct include never turning away someone in trouble.
Robin and James, the hero and heroine of this tale, are both widowers of a certain age, already familiar with the complexities of life and love, which is somewhat rare in the world of romance novels. Thickening the plot are disturbing questions about how James’ first wife died, as well as ever-intensifying inquiries into the nature of a mysterious recent death of an acquaintance of the Robin’s deceased husband. Then there’s the odd assumption by some locals that James may have originally married the wrong sister, but as all of these individuals are insufficiently layered into fully three-dimensional human beings, as the tale unfolds it becomes ever more challenging to know who or what to root for.
Where the novel starts to waver is in adequately developing both main characters–James’s family owns a single malt whiskey distillery, but readers never get an adequate sense of what his work entails. Munden’s army of secondary characters are equally sketchy. Titles abound, including Earls, Ladies, and Countesses, along with a castle staff of maids and cooks but there’s not enough detail given for readers to understand precisely how these roles fit into historical, as well as contemporary, Scottish society. A bigger problem–especially for a romance novel–is that the chemistry between Robin and James is not tangible enough and the draw of the story eventually leans more towards the suspenseful, potential murder mystery elements, rather than building a satisfying romance.
There is a bit more charm than substance in Jean Murray Munden’s beautifully described Scotland-based romance novel COME FILL UP MY CUP, though the positive aspects of the tale do outweigh its story development flaws.
~C.S. Holmes for IndieReader