Series Name: Romantic Escape, # 9  

‘No, I’m just explaining, McBride Izzy.’ He gave her a rare grin, which lit up his face and made him—disturbingly—even more attractive. Damn, when his eyes sparkled like that, crinkling around the edges, her hormones jumped to attention.

Holy Jingle Bells!! The Christmas Castle in Scotland is one of the holly, jolliest books I have read this year. 

Izzy McBride had never in a million years expected to inherit an actual castle from her great uncle Bill but here she was, in the run up to Christmas, Monarch of her own Glen – a very rundown glen in need of a lot of TLC if her dream of turning it into a boutique bed and breakfast was to come true.

But when Izzy’s eccentric mother rents a room to enigmatic thriller author Ross Adair and the Scottish snow starts to settle like the frosting on a Christmas cake, it’s a race to get the castle ready before they’re all snowed in for the holidays. 

This was one of those books that I had a hard time putting down. I definitely was secretly reading it during work hours, LOL. The Christmas Castle in Scotland is the ninth book in the Romantic Escape series, but it can be read as a stand-alone. This book just grabbed me right from the first chapter. I loved the idea of rushing to renovate an old Scottish castle before Christmas. It really took my love for home renos to a regal level. Julie did a wonderful job at painting this breathtaking Highland setting. I felt like I was there (or wishing I was there). The setting was beautiful, and the village was full of fun and quirky characters. They added a lot of charm and laughter to the story.

The story itself has a nice flow to it. Julie did a great job at throwing in those twists, turns, and some drama at just that right moment. The story is incredibly entertaining and endearing. I also felt this sense of realism when it came to the characters. They all have their flaws and problems, as the story progressed it was nice watching as they worked through them. I really enjoyed all the characters. They wormed their way into my heart pretty quickly. Readers are probably going to either love or hate Xanthe, who is Izzy’s mom. Xanthe is impulsive, acts and speaks before she thinks, and is oblivious to everything and everyone around her. I had mixed feelings about her character. On the one hand, her antics were highly entertaining, and then, on the other hand, she was super frustrating. I struggled with the mother-daughter relationship that Izzy and Xanthe had. Xanthe was so unaware of her daughter’s feelings at times that I wanted to shake some sense into her. But as the story progresses and I listen to how Izzy talks about her mom, I realize that all of Xanthe’s actions are done with a good heart. She truly loves her daughter in her own quirky way. 

 Fans of forced proximity will love the romance between Izzy and Ross. Their relationship flirts between friends and lovers throughout most of this book. Izzy is coming off a bad relationship and isn’t looking for love, but she has difficulty ignoring her attraction for Ross. The problem is that Ross is constantly sending her mixed messages. Are they friends, lovers, or just two strangers living in the same castle? My heart went out to Izzy, for having to be in that constant yo-yo relationship with Ross would be hard. I feel like I must say Ross is a sweet and caring guy, and I liked his character. Who wouldn’t like a ruggedly handsome highlander in a kilt? There are reasons (you will have to read to find out what they are) why he acts the way he does around Izzy. But Lord, when they have those swoony moments and just connect with each other, it really gets my heart pitter-pattering. And the ending might have had me giggle like a schoolgirl. 

If you are looking to escape to the highlands this Christmas season, I would highly recommend reading this book. You won’t be disappointed. 

Thank you HarperCollins UK, One More Chapter, and Rachel Random Resources for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.