Friday, March 27, 2020

Summer at the Highland Coral Beach by Kiley Dunbar: A Perfect Escape From Reality

Summer at the Highland Coral Beach by Kiley Dunbar
Published: March 27th, 2020
Publisher: Hera Books
Genre: Contemporary romance
# of pages: 300
My rating: 4 stars
Acquired this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for honest consideration
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Beatrice Halliday needs a break from life. Booking a trip to the Highlands on a whim, Beatrice hopes learning Gaelic in a beautiful Scottish village might help her heal her grief after losing her baby, her husband and her much loved job in a space of months.

But Port Willow Bay isn’t exactly as the website promised. Instead of learning a new language, she’s booked in to learn the ancient skill of willow weaving, her hotel room is Princess and the Pea themed (with a stack of mattresses for her bed!) and worse still, her tutor is Atholl Fergusson, grumpy landlord of the hotel where Beatrice is staying – and she’s the only one doing the course.

But as Beatrice finds herself falling in love with Port Willow Bay and its people, and as she discovers the kind heart beneath Atholl’s stony exterior, can she really leave?

Scotland has been at the top of my travel wishlist for ages, so on the day of the cover reveal for Summer at the Highland Coral Beach, my first thought - before even seeing the cover or reading the synopsis - was ‘you had me at Scotland’. Then I saw the gorgeous cover and I knew I had to read this book. After reading Kiley’s sophomore novel, Christmas at Frozen Falls, I knew she had a knack for transporting the reader to the setting of the book, and Summer at the Highland Coral Beach was no different. I felt like I made the journey with Beatrice to Port Willow Bay with its coral beach, turquoise waters, and the charming Princess and the Pea Inn.

I really liked Beatrice. She’d been dealt a difficult hand between losing her mum, losing her job, a rocky patch in her marriage, finally getting pregnant and then losing the baby, and then her husband leaving her when he couldn’t handle how she was dealing with her grief. Desperately needing an escape, she booked a holiday to the Highlands on a whim. Port Willow Bay was beautiful, but the Princess and the Pea Inn didn’t exactly live up to what its website promised. Beatrice quickly realized her whim wasn’t the smartest idea and she decided to return home, but circumstances kept her in Port Willow, where she began falling in love with the inn, the charming town, and its people...especially one person in particular, a hot Scot named Atholl.

While this book packed an emotional punch with its talk of grief and loss, it was also funny, charming, and romantic. The characters were wonderfully quirky and the setting was gorgeous (my desire to visit the Highlands has increased exponentially). I enjoyed watching Beatrice’s growth and seeing her figure out you can’t outrun your problems - they go with you wherever you go and stay with you until you confront them head on. She learned how to begin the healing process after loss, and how to move on while still honouring the ones you loved and lost. I also really appreciated that Beatrice was older than your typical romance heroine (just about to turn 40).

Sweet, funny, and emotional, Summer at the Highland Coral Beach was the perfect escape.

Have you read Summer at the Highland Coral Beach? What's a setting you always love reading about? Have you read any books lately that have felt like wonderful escapes from reality?

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