Saturday, July 11, 2020

Review: "Under Scottish Stars" by Carla Laureano

I'm not sure if, at least among my reading friends, I've ever seen a book be as anticipated as Carla Laureano's Under Scottish Stars! It finally released earlier this week, and I'm thinking it lived up to the hype!

Recently widowed Serena MacDonald Stewart focuses on her children to the exclusion of her career, her art, and her sanity. When her brothers ask her to oversee the family guest house on the Isle of Skye, it's a chance to dust off her long-ignored business skills and make a new start. But her hopes for a smooth transition are dashed when the hotel manager, Malcolm Blake, turns out to be irritating, condescending . . . and incredibly attractive.

Malcolm Blake gave up everything--his home, his girlfriend, and his career--to return to Skye and raise his late sister's teenage daughter. With few job opportunities available on the island, he signs on as the manager of the MacDonald family hotel, which he's soon running successfully without interference from the owners. That is, until Serena shows up, challenging his authority and his conviction that there's nothing missing from his new life on Skye.

Before long, Serena and Malcolm have to admit the spark between them is more than mere irritation. But as single parents, there's more on the line than their own hearts. Will their commitment to family be the thing that draws them together or the only thing that could keep them apart?

There's no doubt that Carla Laureano can write! Her descriptions of food can cause your mouth to water, her main and supporting characters are multi-faceted, and there's always a sense of "realness" to her stories, no matter what is happening. In the past, I've enjoyed reading several of her novels for the reasons I've just mentioned. The one area that has sometimes felt lacking to me is the romance aspect—it's always there, but I often haven't connected with it. So I'm very happy to say that the romance in Under Scottish Stars is wonderful!

I. Loved. Serena. And. Malcolm. Together.

First of all, she's older than he is by a handful of years, which is something I enjoy but don't see very often. Their banter in the beginning is so fun, and the way he purposefully pursues her is totally swoonworthy! I also loved the way he connected with her children, especially Em. And the chemistry between them crackles.

There's so much more to this novel than romance, of course: Serena restarting her life on Skye while dealing with her daughter's grief and her own lost dreams; Malcolm trying to keep his promise to his late sister as he helps prepare his niece for college; the glimpses into the lives of the other MacDonald family members (who were featured in previous novels in this trilogy).

This is a book that will delight fans of the MacDonald Family books, but it will also win over new Laureano readers. It's simply wonderful. 5 stars.

Buy the book (affiliate link).
Read my reviews of London Tides (MacDonald Trilogy #2, 4 stars), The Saturday Night Supper Club (Supper Club #1, 4 stars) and Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe (Supper Club #2, 4-1/2 stars).

Carla Laureano is the RITA® Award-winning author of contemporary inspirational romance and Celtic fantasy (as C.E. Laureano). A graduate of Pepperdine University, she worked as a sales and marketing executive for nearly a decade before leaving corporate life behind to write fiction full-time. She currently lives in Denver with her husband and two sons, where she writes during the day and cooks things at night. 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Also, some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase an item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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