Book description: Andrea Sullivan is so consumed by her hospitality consultant job that she’s forgotten what brings her life. She travels the world yet shields herself from the exotic locales or another chance at love. She dreads her new assignment—a last chance to snag a high-profile client in Scotland. Yet the lush Isle of Skye transcends her preconceptions. As does the man she came to interview—the rugged, blue-eyed Scotsman James McDonald.
James is passionate about cooking but after six restaurants, four cookbooks, and his own television show, he has no desire to be a celebrity chef. Andrea and James begin to sense these five days in Skye may just be God’s wild invitation into deeper life … and truer love.
My review: Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh I have a new favorite author and a new favorite book! This has been sitting in my TBR collection in my Kindle app for over a year because … well… books. So many of them! When I was given the opportunity to review Five Days In Skye for Netgalley.com I dug it out, dusted it off (figuratively of course), and dove in to find myself captured right from the first sentence. “At least they couldn’t fire her.” And off we go!
I practically swallowed this book whole; it was that excellent. Carla Laureano’s writing voice lilts warmly and engagingly and immerses you in the story until you become part of the scene rather than just reading words on the page. The characters reached out and introduced themselves to me … and then quickly became old friends I was joining on their journey. I hadn’t read more than 2 or 3 pages before the brewing romance had me solidly in its cheering section, and the tenderness wielded as different characters wrestled with God was the perfect blend of the reality of faith without being too preachy.
Can we just pause for a moment and have a token dreamy sigh in honor of James? All together now. *Dreamy sigh* I may need another one (or ten) while I’m writing this so bear with me… 😉 We meet our rather flirtatious hero within the first pages of the book, and that scene ranks as one of my favorite hero-heroine introductions of all time. Classic romantic comedy movie material. Carla Laureano has said that James was partially inspired by Henry Cavill, and I would totally post a picture for you here but I’m afraid I would lose you to staring at his gorgeous eyes and you would read no further. You can look him up on the google later. Later. Get back here.
The first time Andrea sees James, she thinks of him as “Handsome enough she took a second look and immediately wished she hadn’t been so obvious about it. His grin made her heart do things it was certainly not intended to do.” Are you grinning yet? Because I am. Again. In fact, I found myself grinning like a besotted fool through most of the book, thanks to James’ incorrigibly flirtatious nature. “He grinned, and she almost felt relieved. Playful was much preferable to… smoldering.”
Y’all. This was only on page 46 of the book on my Kindle app. I don’t know how it translates into print copies, but either way – we have only just begun and we are already winking and grinning and playful and SMOLDERING! Be still my heart. How did Andrea stand it? How did Carla stand it while she was in his head writing him?? This is a question I must know the answer to one of these days. Carla Laureano is my new hero.
For all of James’ flirting and smoldering though, he has a very solid side to him. (And I don’t just mean his muscles.) He has depth of character that most people overlook in their celebrity image of him – and, granted, it is an integrity that evolved with time and maturity. Some of his old friends don’t get it. Some of his family doesn’t get it. The paparazzi and his adoring public don’t get it. Even Andrea doesn’t get it at first. Part of James’ journey on his five days in Skye is to come to grips with his two personalities – his public facade and his private truth – and how his relationship with God is represented in each. I really enjoyed watching him work through this new application of his faith and seeing how it played out in his blossoming relationship with Andrea.
Speaking of Andrea, I felt she was the perfect heroine to contrast James’ character. She’s confident but uncomfortable with life at the same time so she doesn’t really know how to take James’ flirting at first. I got the impression that Andrea has all this natural talent and yet she is still playing a part that society has dictated for her, one which at heart she knows is unnatural for her. (In many ways, she and James share this quality.) One of the most beautiful things about Five Days in Skye is the opportunity to watch Andrea relax and unfold like a cocooned butterfly with each moment she spends in James’ presence. It is not an easily-won metamorphosis though as evidenced by this glimpse into her struggle to put past tragedies aside and accept the potential of the relationship she wants with James, and ultimately with God: “…she felt like she stood on a precipice. She couldn’t see the bottom, didn’t know if jumping would earn a soft landing or dash her against the rocks. Could she summon the courage to leap?” (At this point I think I may have shouted, “Leap, Andrea! Leap! Look at the man with all the integrity plus the winking and flirting and Henry Cavill-ing and SMOLDERING, for the love!)
I loved all the secondary characters too – well, except the ones we weren’t supposed to like. But I really didn’t like them, which means Ms. Laureano did a stellar job writing them as well! I am very much looking forward to reading London Tides, the second book in the MacDonald Family series (coming out June 1st), and an upcoming third and final title in the series as well, in order to continue to peek in on the lives of this endearing group of people.
Romance is certainly a key (and delicious) element in this story, but even more important is the theme of restoration. Both James and Andrea are struggling to find their place with God – James in the public eye as I’ve already mentioned and Andrea after she felt God abandoned her. James himself expressed Andrea’s struggle with God as not one who had given up but one who was seeking and “waiting for something to prove her [doubts] wrong. Something to make her believe again.” I think many of us can relate to that idea – either because we ourselves have personally felt that way or we know/love someone who has. It’s not that we quit believing, but instead we are desperate for someone to show us why we shouldn’t quit. As Ms. Laureano so eloquently put it, “We’re all broken. We’re only human. Some wounds only God can mend.” So thankful that He is in the business of doing just that…
I’m so glad I had the opportunity to review Five Days in Skye. I give it 5 out of 5 stars and a rare spot on my favorites shelf!
(I already had a copy but was given an ARC of the re-release due in June by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Which this is. If you couldn’t tell from all my drooling over James lol. I am told I don’t stand a chance against Ian, his brother and the hero of London Tides. We have all been duly warned.)