To continue the metaphor from Highland Dream, you know when you’re eating that thing that you’re not really enjoying but it’s hitting something you can’t identify so even though you finish it and think oh god thank god it’s done but then you grab ANOTHER serving of it? That was this book’s experience.
In Highland Fling, the heroine is a briefly mentioned friend of Jix’s, Chelsea, who is a Boring, Spinsterish, Plain, Hopeless, Wallflower of a woman whose friends constantly try to remake her, tear her down constantly, and then slut shame her when she wears something spicy in an attempt to embrace her sexuality a bit. Oh, also she’s a PhD level scientist who is brilliant but gosh dang if she doesn’t have babies her life is worthless! This isn’t me extrapolating, it’s pretty explicitly expressed by Sam who continues her reign as rancid bitch (I did not read the third book because it featured her and I do not feel Sam deserves an HEA tbh).
There is a lot of time traveling in this book and I enjoyed the unique premise. This premise is the friend from the first book, Griffin, travels to contemporary Scotland and runs into his friends who had successfully gone back to their time at the end of the first book. Chelsea’s friends refuse to let her in on what happened, leaving her feeling left out and hurt which is completely understandable. She grows close to Griffin and they end up time traveling to the old west to find his cousin who he discovers accidentally traveled there and was hung for a crime Griffin is sure he could not have committed.
Once in the old west there is some fun stuff that happens. Chelsea comes out of her shell a bit when she’s taken in by the Madame at a saloon and does some dancing and enjoys herself for probably the first time in her whole life. Griffin reunites with his cousin and there’s a good old fashioned jailbreak. The protagonists are also both virgins and that’s not common, especially when you have a contemporary person in one of the pair. I was happy for them when they got their HEA, happier than I was in the first book because I actually liked Chelsea even though I wanted to shake her and tell her that her friends were toxic and she should get therapy for her low self-esteem. I was also happy to see Griffin get his HEA because he was a sweetheart in the first one and a genuinely good character. The two deserve each other in the best way. In hindsight I think I enjoyed this one better than the first (at least after they left behind Sam and Jix) but again, I don’t feel compelled to read on because Sam deserves nothing good from this world and I don’t know or care about the characters in the rest of the series.