[Under Scottish Stars]: A Review

Hi y’all!

Hope you are enjoying the first few days of autumn. I think this is my favorite season and we are excited for a lot of fun this fall! I’m back today working on my mega pile of reviews. Under Scottish Stars by Carla Laureano is the third and final novel in her MacDonald Family Trilogy.

I first read Five Days in Skye several years ago and then London Tides earlier this year. I have been excited to read this third book in the MacDonald family trilogy for years! So thrilled to finally have experienced this one. Finally we get Serena’s story, and it is absolutely fantastic!

Initial Thoughts:

  • I aspire to visit the Isle of Skye one day. It sounds breathtaking and so peaceful. I love the descriptions of the landscape and beauty of the island. The star gazing scenes were also a lovely touch in this story.
  • I need to make a plug of Carla Laureano’s novels in general. I love everything I read from her! If you’re new to her work, start with Five Days in Skye. I also highly recommend her Saturday Night Supper Club series set in Denver.

According to Goodreads, “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?

I love Serena as the main protagonist. Getting inside her head was like getting to know a new friend. As a young mother myself, I really connected with her experiences raising her kids and trying to do right by them. Even the middle of the night comforting of little Max felt familiar! She is a wonderful mother who puts her kids first and is trying to give them a wonderful childhood despite some intense trials. I admire her. I also loved seeing how her character flourished when she and Malcolm started dating. From her decision to start painting again, to seeing herself as both a woman and a mother, to understanding that she is valuable and worthy of love, I adored how Malcolm brought out the best in her.

Malcolm is a fantastic co-protagonist who has overcome his own share of difficulties. I always enjoy how Laureano gets us inside the heads of both our main protagonists so we see how they each view their budding relationship. I admired how he changed his whole life to live with his niece after her parents died. I was impressed by how he balances being a parent and being a friend to his niece. I love seeing him with Serena’s kids and how much he cares about them. And of course, I loved getting inside his head as he admires his feelings for Serena and fights for her. He is sincere, passionate, and hard working. And he loves deeply and with intense loyalty. I couldn’t have pictured a better match for Serena.

The romance is fantastic–a perfect mix of tension and passion. Their first kiss is as swoon worthy as it gets and the way they come to rely on each other is tender and sweet. I love the little moments that show how much they care about each other: Malcolm bringing Serena coffee before work, making dessert after the kids are in bed, waiting up for Serena after Max has a night terror, calling each other first with big news, stolen kisses in the kitchen. And while there is the classic misunderstanding that almost separates our two lovers indefinitely, it isn’t too drawn out and gives us the right amount of anxiety without overdoing it. As all good romances go, Malcolm and Serena find a way to be together and it nearly brings tears to my eyes. It’s just a really lovely romance.

I loved that we are back on Skye for this novel. I want to visit so bad! It’s a beautiful setting that gives Serena and Malcolm healing, peace, and forgiveness. From the little croft house that Serena and her kids live in, to the hotel, to star gazing, to playing on the beach, this island is idyllic. It seems to represent peace and healing for not just Serena but for Malcolm as well. They both grow and even flourish on Skye together. It offers a beautiful balance to life.

One of my favorite parts of reading series is seeing former protagonists again in later books. We get to reunite with all the main characters from the first two novels in this one. I love getting to know Aunt Muriel more and the way she brought Malcolm and Serena together. She felt like a favorite aunt that you want to go visit. I also loved seeing Andrea and Jamie again. Their romance is one of my favorites and seeing them living out their happily ever after (especially in the epilogue!!) is just beautiful. Also great to see Ian and Grace again and how much stronger they have become. This family isn’t perfect but they are fiercely loyal and supportive of each other which is beautiful to read.

I loved this book! It was a breath of fresh air that just made me feel happy reading it. I loved the romance and how Serena is able to find a way to live wholeheartedly with those she loves. One of my favorite romance reads this year!

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What are your favorite contemporary romances?
What books have inspired you to travel somewhere new?

8 thoughts on “[Under Scottish Stars]: A Review

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