Review by Veronica

Series Name: Scottish Escapes, # 4

‘I think you might have missed your calling.’

I leapt up, embarrassment flooding through me. I let go of half the cards in my hand and they skittered across the wooden floor.

Dexter stooped down and gathered them up.

I reached for my hair and hoped my make-up hadn’t slid off during the morning. I found myself also adjusting my shirt collar and dropped my hand in frustration. What on earth was I doing? Brilliant. Just brilliant. Dexter had seen me dancing around, making an utter tit of myself. ‘Do you always sneak up on poor unsuspecting shop owners?’

He paused, still holding the cards he had picked up for me. He appraised me with his thickly lashed eyes. ‘Only the very pretty ones.’

A Scottish Country Escape is a love story filled with rich and lush detail.

Determined to overcome a family tragedy, Elle Cassidy decides to reopen her late mother’s ailing newsagent as a stationery shop in the quiet Scottish town of Fir Haven.

But when the arrogant yet handsome crime writer Dexter Grayling almost runs over Elle in his beast of a sports car, the town is thrown into a tailspin – especially when Dexter claims that local resident Linda Carlucci has put a curse on him and he is no longer able to write.

Can Elle put aside her dislike for the self-absorbed writer and help Dexter uncover what is really going on with the Carlucci family? And in the process will Elle realise that there’s a lot more to her beloved Fir Haven than she first thought…

Julie Shackman knows how to write an entertaining and binge-worthy romance. She added a fun and unique twist to that typical small-town love story. In A Scottish Country Escape, there is a whole curse element to the story. I loved unfolding the history of the Carlucci family with Elle and Dexter. It was interesting, and for some strange reason, it reminded me of Practical Magic. The whole curse aspect was a clever way to hook the readers in. 

This book is rich in detail. Julie knows how to paint this lush, vivid setting that transports readers to Fir Haven. I loved being able to explore the town and the nature reserve located beside it. It makes you want to pack your bags and go to Scotland. 

A Scottish Country Escape is a book with many story elements that I love in a romance book. First, it has an opening up of a new business plot line. Elle transforms her old parent’s store into a new stationery business. Y’all know that I am a sucker for this kind of story. I love watching this transformation of an old unused space and seeing it become something new and fabulous. It’s so heartwarming watching Elle’s dreams come true.

Another thing that I love in my romance is that whole David and Goliath plotline. The nature reserve beside the town is going to be sold to a developer, who is planning on building holiday homes in the space. Elle and the townspeople come together to try and save their town’s reserve. I felt like I was there fighting alongside the townspeople and getting angry that something so beautiful would be destroyed. This side story just tugged at those emotions. 

Elle and Dexter’s relationship starts off quite rocky, probably because he almost ran her over with his car. In the first part of this book, no love is lost between these two. Elle thinks Dexter is self-centred, and all Dexter cares about is removing the curse and doesn’t think he has done anything wrong. I devoured the tense banter between these two because I could see the sparks flying underneath all that tension. Elle and Dexter work together to uncover the mystery behind this curse and the Carlucci family. Dexter’s character was more complex than I thought it would be. As Elle spent more time with Dexter, we see all these layers underneath that gruff self-centred exterior. There is this vulnerable and kind-hearted side to Dexter that Elle wasn’t expecting. I liked these two together as friends and as a couple. I found myself looking forward to the scenes when they were together. Their journey to getting their HEA is rife with ups and downs and miscommunications. It was just the right amount of drama to make it enjoyable, but not too much where you want to bang your head against a wall.

A Scottish Country Escape is a heartfelt and rich love story that is hard to put down.

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