If you stop and think about it, you’ll see small pieces of Scotland in my K-9 books. In Lock ’N’ Load, my heroine, Trista Gold, doesn’t usually drink but when she does, she prefers Dalwhinnie, a delicious Scotch with notes of vanilla, honey, and delicate spice. Why Scotland? No particular reason, except that I’ve visited there twice and love it so much that I can’t stop myself from interjecting little Scottish factoids into my stories. When you read Armed ’N’ Ready, you may catch a few more of them. No spoilers here, though. Here’s how it all began…
Two years ago, I visited Scotland with my brother and cousins and fell in love with the place. This has nothing to do with Outlander or the ever so remote possibility of accidentally bumping into a descendant of Jamie Frasier. Although, I did find a gravestone in Inverness with his name on it.
We traveled to so many locations that first trip, I lost count of all of them. Edinburg, Glascow, Inverness, Glenco, Ardlui, Glen Finnon, Portree, Rothskill, Cuolloden, Isle of Skye…and the list goes on. My favorite place of all: Isle of Skye. So, on my second trip to Scotland in 2018, we spent the entire trip on Skye. Almost.
We reserved a room at the Kinloch Lodge in Sleat, Isle of Skye, in March, as the cost for the room and meals was discounted by about 50%. Kinloch is an old farmhouse built in 1680, owned by the Lord and Lady MacDonald. In the 18th century, it was converted into a hunting lodge, and later a beautiful place for guests to overnight and dine on the wonderful cuisine prepared by Kinloch’s Chef Director Marcello Tully, a Brazilian-Scottish chef. And let me just say: the food is awesome!
Every day, a menu for the evening meal would miraculously appear in our room. Reading it was enough to tantalize our taste buds. Our dinner experience began every night with exotic canapés and Scotch in the drawing room, followed by a 5-course meal, then dessert, THEN petit-fours and coffee by the fire. Oh my. Thank goodness for the extensive running trails on the cliff behind the lodge. Folks, Marcello Tully deserves his Michelin Star, and his staff is right there with him.
Here’s my rundown, and believe me, this barely scratches the surface of our culinary adventure. The scones topped with fresh creamery butter and raspberry or strawberry preserves positively melted in our mouths, as did the rich, buttery shortbread cookies that were left in our room every day like clockwork. The spicy pea soup was just the right juxtaposition of sweet and pepper. The oysters and scallops were full flavored, and probably dug up hours before they made it to our plates. Venison medallions were so flavorful and beyond tender they made me want to cry. The passion fruit tart was tangy, sweet, and richly custardy, as was the Quindim, a Brazilian coconut egg custard. I purchased Marcello Tully’s cookbook, The Key Ingredient, and I must say, I did a not too shabby job of recreating his scones and shortbread cookies.
After eating like there was no tomorrow, we’d look at the map, pick a place, and drive there—on the wrong side of the road, I might add, which was an adventure in of itself, let alone with the manual gear shift on the left side as well! Then we shopped ’til we dropped, purchasing, among other traditional items, warm and fuzzy slippers, and beautiful sterling Hebridean silver jewelry.
We toured the coastline and fell in love with the spectacular view at Neist Point, stopped in Portree for traditional fish ’n chips, and just when it was time to return home, we got snowed in! Not because of snow in Scotland, but because of a blizzard that hit the eastern U.S. coast!! We were delayed by about three days, and what better way to pass the time, then to visit my favorite Scotch distillery. You guessed it—Dalwhinnie! We took an hour-long train ride from Inverness to Dalwhinnie, walked five minutes to the distillery, sampled every single pour they offered, along with an amazing pairing of fine chocolates, then got back on the train and passed out.
Needless to say, I’ve plotted out a contemporary suspense set in Scotland, and I’m super-excited to write it one day!
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Crack CIA analyst Trista Gold is a whiz with the computer, but not so much with people. She hides behind her job, analyzing Top Secret code and making recommendations on national security. She doesn’t need a man in her life. But she will, very soon…
CIA K-9 officer Sgt. Matt Connors suspects that beneath Trista’s uptight appearance, there’s a sexy woman itching to cut loose. But he doesn’t dare act on his attraction. He’s a loner and always will be. Keeping away from Trista is a must-do directive. Until he doesn’t have a choice…
During a routine assignment, Trista stumbles across a cryptic exchange. She doesn’t think much of it…until someone tries to murder her—twice. Both times, Matt had been there to save her. But now she has to hide. And her new bodyguard, Matt, and his K-9 are the only hope she has against the powerful forces that want her dead.
Tee O’Fallon has been a federal agent for twenty-two years, giving her hands-on experience in the field of law enforcement that she combines with her love of romantic suspense. Tee’s job affords her the unique opportunity to work with the heroic and sexy men in law enforcement on a daily basis. For Tee, research is the easy part! Besides reading and writing, Tee loves cooking, gardening, chocolate, lychee martinis, and her Belgian sheepdog.