Thirty-year-old Belle Albany is feeling lonely this Christmas. Another whole year has passed and her life is… exactly the same as it was last December. She longs for true love and a little bit of winter magic – but she’s almost given up on finding it in the sleepy Scottish community where she lives…
When Belle crashes into elderly Edina on her cherry red bicycle, it’s not the meet-cute she’d been hoping for. But she immediately recognises the lost look in Edina’s watery-blue eyes and resolves to organise a Christmas to remember for them both – brimming with mince pies, mulled wine and lots of sparkle. Although Belle hadn’t counted on Edina’s home being a crumbling Scottish castle and she certainly hadn’t been expecting Edina’s handsome long-lost grandson Jack Hamilton-Kirk to turn up on the doorstep in the middle of a snow storm…
Jack is arrogant, rude and bossy and Belle is convinced he’s about to ruin the seasonal cheer she has worked hard to create. He’s basically the Grinch in human form, so why does her heart race every time they’re in the same room? They disagree on almost everything, from menu choices to music, and yet she starts to glimpse a softer side hidden behind Jack’s clipped words and brooding countenance.
As they hunt down costumes for the annual nativity show and save a donkey from a snowy disaster, Belle can’t ignore their growing attraction. But will a secret from Jack’s past come between them? Or will this finally be the year Belle falls in love?
Christmas in the Scottish Highlands by Donna Ashcroft – my review
Christmas in the Scottish Highlands was an absolute delight to read! It’s one of those cases where I can’t quite put my finger on what it was I liked, so I’m just going to share some of the things about it that charmed me as I read.
The premise for the characters coming together was a little bit wacky (Belle crashing into Edina on her bike) but didn’t feel entirely unnatural. This meant the characters, to me, didn’t feel pushed together. There was an excellent supporting cast of villagers and friends, which I always love, and the links between the characters, and why/how they knew each other didn’t feel forced. I really felt like everyone belonged in the story.
Belle and Edina in particular were great characters. I really liked that while Belle had some trouble saying no and probably put others before herself far too much, she was still confident and wasn’t always putting herself down (something we see way more often than I would like in these sorts of cosy romance stories). I loved seeing Edina come out of her shell and thought she was just a super fun character.
I liked that Belle and Jack didn’t start as enemies for no reason, but instead had kind of tended towards a distrust and uncertainty of each other in the beginning, which was probably appropriate given the strange situation under which they meet. Both certainly have reason to be suspicious of the other, and it was fun to see how that shifted as they got to know each other and their friendship developed.
The setting of the story was also great. I thought the castle was fabulous, and I loved that we got some snow. Centering parts of the story around the school and their nativity play worked really well for me – I liked the way that this gave the villagers something to work on and towards, and the scenes with the kids in them really let some of the characters show a different side of themselves.
There were also a couple of great animal characters in this one, which is something I’m always a sucker for!
Overall I really thought this was a fun, festive, charming read. I think this would be the perfect read for fans of Hallmark style Christmas movies – I actually think the combination of the gorgeous setting, the fun cast of characters, and the sprinkling of sweet and funny bits throughout would make a great movie!
I read and loved Ashcroft’s The Christmas Countdown when it came out a few years ago (you can see my review here), and I’ll be putting her other books on my tbr for when I need a sweet, quick, uplifting read. I’d love to hear if you read this one what you think!
Christmas in the Scottish Highlands by Donna Ashcroft
Out now from Bookouture.
Source: Free ecopy kindly provided by Bookouture via Netgalley (thank you!). All views are my own
Want more Christmassy content? Check out some of my previous posts here.