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The Back Up Plan: Giving up? Or moving on?

4.48  ·  Rating details ·  42 ratings  ·  24 reviews
Giving up? Or moving on?

That’s 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 frie
Kindle Edition, 391 pages
Published January 17th 2020
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Elsie McArthur
Oct 22, 2020 added it  ·  (Review from the author)

"Elsie McArthur delivers the same warm wit and humour as my favourites: Katie Fforde, Lindsey Kelk and Jenny Colgan."

"...a great bit of chicklit romcom escape,"

"The way that McArthur develops her warm and charming characters is both refreshing and humorous,"

"I couldn't put it down. Each page held out the promise of something more."

"This exceptional debut of Ms. McArthur is a sign of things to come."

Now available in paperback, ebook and Kindle Unlimited.
Wendy Bayne
Sep 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was a beautifully written contemporary romance set in gorgeous Scotland. Throughout the story the emotions of the characters were palpable and evocative.

The Highlands figure in this story as a secondary character, their solemnity and ancient landscapes pull you in to the point that you can almost feel the wind on your cheeks, hear the water lapping on the shore of the Loch and hear the music and the beautiful voices of the people.

The main characters of The Back Up Plan however drawn they
Lynn Brown
Jun 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book and the writing style. Set in Scotland you get both the City side with Glasgow and then when Marsaili (rhymes with Parsley!) goes home we get to experience the lovely rural side of Scotland. All places I've been (although Skye before the bridge!) and it brought it all back so vividly, as the writing was just wonderful. You also get some lovely Scottish dialect and sayings, some of which I had never encountered before.

The main character Marsaili is a little (well a lo
Michelle Naragon
Book Title: The Backup Plan, Giving Up or Moving On?
Author: Elsie McArthur
Author Type: Indie
Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Saucy Romance Rating: 🔥🔥
Release Date: January 17, 2020
Recommend: Yes

Marsaili McKenzie’s current life finds her unlucky in the pursuit of her acting career and unlucky in love. Swearing off men to give her career one last go before she throws in the towel and gets a real job is the goal, but the universe has other plans when it plants two gorgeous men in her path. One is an actor named Eu
Sara Kjeldsen
Jul 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
I'm not normally a reader of romance novels, but I thought I'd give this one a try. It turned out to be a great story about a 30-something aspiring actress with dreams of escaping her barmaid job. Size 14 Marsaili is considered skinny by many people in her home town, but in the film industry she can't seem to break into any roles meant for thinner actresses. She makes a serious go to get into acting so that she won't have any regrets and soon becomes involved with a handsome and successful actor ...more
Eva Alton
Jun 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: romance
This was a sweet, lighthearted novel. It was easy to empathize with Marsaili, the main character, and the struggles she faces trying to become an actress. I liked the insight into the acting world and what happens behind the curtains. I also loved the descriptions of Scottish landscape (I think I want to visit Scotland now), and the humor (who knew there was a lake called Loch Lochy?). Of course I loved Will, because he was a real man with weaknesses and wasn't ashamed to cry and reinvent himsel ...more
A.M. Gilliam
Jul 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Such a sweet tale!

I loved this book! The man character, marsaili navigates her existence in the world. And finally realized sometimes dreams don’t work out. She is such a relatable character. This was a book about moving on and finding yourself through time. ❤️❤️
J.L. Rothstein
Jun 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The Back Up Plan by Elsie McArthur is a fun, light, and easy read. I rate this book a full 5 Stars. It is what I would consider a perfect Summer Beach Read. The book is set in Scotland. Myself, being from the US, appreciated the writing of McArthur as I felt I got a real sense of what it is like to live in that part of the world. The characters, especially the main character Marsaili McKenzie and her family, are fun and relatable making you instantly care about them and the decisions they make. ...more
Oct 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What a surprise this book was. I picked up the book thinking it was going to be a nice little chic-lit romcom and to my delight, Ms McArthur brought forth a remarkable character named Marsaili (rhymes with parsley). There were moments when I wanted to shake Marsalis by the shoulders for some of her decisions. Yet, in the end, I was so proud of her I shouted out, “good for you, Marsaili!” McArthur’s skill in developing a character that at first glance seems a bit flighty and then moving the chara ...more
Elizabeth Holland
Jun 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. Marsaili was a relatable character as she navigated life in an attempt to find her true vocation and love. Despite the obstacles Marsaili's strong and firey character shines through and she refuses to let anything stop her from forging a future for herself. As soon as I picked the book up I was swept away to Scotland and thoroughly enjoyed the description of the scenery. I couldn't put this book down and I know it is one that will stay with me. ...more
Nicola Smith
Jun 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The Back Up Plan is an absolutely gorgeous romance which I finished with a massive smile on my face.

Marsaili (rhymes with parsley, kind of) McKenzie is drifting through her life. She's an actress but has never actually got a breakthrough so she's working at a theatre in Glasgow. She's 33 and is starting to come round to the idea that a rethink of her life might be in order. I loved Marsaili even though she's a little prickly at times and has a tendency to put herself down. I thought the author p
Karen Kingston
Jun 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Thank you to Elsie McArthur for a copy of her debut novel - my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift. This is a 4.5 star read for me.

Firstly, I need to mention the stunning cover which fits the story perfectly (although I may be biased because my daughter is a redhead too). As someone who lives in landlocked Wiltshire in the middle of the global pandemic, a glimpse of the sea was much appreciated.

Marsaili (rhymes with parsley) grew up in rural Scotland with a loving family but is li
Nov 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Follow this up and down tale as it takes you on a wild roller coaster ride! I loved reading this story, even though I hate the ending. It was not how I would have liked the story to end, but the epilogue wraps up all the loose ends. So I have to give it at least Four Stars.
This book was full of surprises and twists I wasn’t expecting. For a debut novel I am very impressed and I look forward to reading Elsie McArthur’s other book Love, On The Rocks.
Reading about Scotland and getting a glimpse i
Hayley Fortin
Jun 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is such a cosy, cup of tea and a blanket read! I absolutely loved how Elsie McArthur's warm writing style and quirky sense of humour really come through in her likeable and believable characters.

I love how much attention to detail there was surrounding Marselli's life and aspirations which meant I really understood and felt for her. The setting of Scotland was beautifully described and as someone who has worked many bar jobs myself, I could really relate to her work life at the theatre. Els
Caroline Venables
Jan 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This is such a lovely read, that follows Marsaili as she struggles with her life.

If you ask my mum where she move to if she could, she would always answer Scotland, so she will have loved the beautiful scenery that is described throughout this book. The Highlands are in stark contrast to the busy city life Marsaili has carved out for herself.

No matter what the scene the author does an excellent job of description, really drawing you in.

Marsaili has always wanted to be an actress but now she find
Jun 30, 2020 rated it did not like it
Giving up

I can't decide if it's the book I dislike or simply the characters. I liked all of the secondary characters, even the two-timing cheat, better than I liked the main two characters. The insecurity and jumping to conclusions was so over the top, I considered putting the book down several times. (Would have been two stars because I finished it, however abruptly ending without resolution, only to resolve in an epilogue lost points for me.)

My second complaint is how the main character behave
Stacy Hawks
Sep 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The Back-Up Plan takes an honest look at what it means to be mid-life and still feeling stuck in a lifestyle, a job that isn't necessarily a career, and how to cope with the possibility that things may not change. Unless you take action. This is a beautiful, enlightening, and fun read. Elsie McArthur made it possible for her readers to connect with her main character on many levels and for that, I am giving this book 5 stars. It is rare to find writers who can sum up life and life challenges thi ...more
Hannah Symonds
Jul 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was a really good debut novel, about a girl called Marsaili who is a struggling actress. We see behind the scenes of the acting world and how it can change a person. I love that this book is set in Scotland as I have always wanted to go there. Elsie is very descriptive with her writing and makes you feel like you are there. I love all the names of people too, it is more interesting hearing more unique names than just the usual names. All Marsaili wants to do is become an actress, on the way ...more
Jun 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
It's always lovely to find a new author and this debut novel from Elsie McArthur is a warm-hearted and very readable romance novel.

It's not a genre I read a lot of, so for me, I went in not knowing what to really expect.  What I discovered was a lovely warm, witty and enjoyable read.

Our main character, Marsaili, is drifting along some what in life, awaiting for an opportunity to kick start her acting career.  However, it has been a number of years now and there haven't been that many jobs, well
Nicole Thomas
Jun 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Lovely romance

There were so many lines In this story I could relate to, “if it’s important to you it’s important to me” is what every girl wants her man to say right? And “whats for you will not pass you by” words that I live by with a slightly different twist. It was heart warming and made you root for the main character.
Anne-Marie Tilling
Apr 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing

Fab storyline, kept me wondering and hoping that they'd get together. Struggled with reading Marsaili every time, even though it was explained it was pronounced Marsley as in Parsley, I still read it as Marsaylee 😁 Really enjoyable read.
Judy Ferrell
Jul 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Love always wins.

Elise McArthur has given us a story of true love. I'm a modern day take on romance. I could and would recommend this easy read to anyone. It reaffirms your belief that love can win the day.
Hayley Walsh
Aug 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved it.

I really enjoyed this heartwarming story. I was hooked from the very first page. Can't wait to read more from this author.
Jul 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Escape to the highlands for a romantic getaway you will not forget!

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 is the relatability. I am not saying I am Marsaili is me, or that I am her, but I do f
Amanda Poor
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Elsie McArthur is an independent author of women's fiction. After studying law at university, and then re-training as a primary school teacher, she now lives in the Highlands of Scotland with her husband, two kids, a couple of badly behaved dogs and a cat with a superiority complex. As well as continuing to work part time as a teacher, she is now indulging in her first love of writing. Her first b ...more

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