Hospitality consultant Andrea Sullivan has one last chance to snag a high-profile client or she'll have to kiss her dreams of promotion good-bye. When she's sent to meet Scottish celebrity chef James MacDonald on the Isle of Skye, she just wants to finish her work as efficiently as possible. Yet her client is not the opportunistic womanizer he portrays himself to be, and her attraction to him soon dredges up memories she'd rather leave buried.
For James, renovating the family hotel is a fulfillment of his late father's dreams. When his hired consultant turns out to be beautiful, intelligent, and completely unimpressed by his public persona, he makes it his mission to win her over. He just never expects to fall under her spell.
Soon, both Andrea and James must face the reality that God may have a far different purpose for their lives—and that five days in Skye will forever change their outlook on life and love.
May I just say that Five Days in Skye is one of the sweetest books I've read so far in 2013? Here's the first chapter.
As soon as I'd read it, I knew I wanted (needed?) to invite Carla here to ICFW! Thankfully, she was happy to come.
VC: Carla, have you ever been to Skye? Please tell us about it. Your descriptions are so evocative, I don't think I could handle the knowledge if your answer is no.
CL: I’m happy to say the answer is yes! (Whew, that was a close one.) It’s one of my favorite places on earth, so I’m happy to hear that I properly conveyed my sense of awe. A number of years ago, my husband and I took a trip to Scotland, culminating in a few days on the Isle of Skye. I had just come off a string of business trips, and I had several more planned after we returned. The beauty and peace of the place reset my “rush rush” mentality and made me take a hard look at what I wanted out of life. It was a natural setting for a story about a woman going through the same sort of transition.
That trip also set up the many sheep references in the book. I think we had a half-dozen sheep-jams before we made it back to London. In one incident, the entire flock did decide to take a nap on the road.
VC: Is there a celebrity chef lurking inside you? (Or: How did you get in Jamie MacDonald's skin?)
CL: I often say that if I had a second life to live, I’d go to culinary school and become a chef. I love to cook, and Food Network was what got me through those early sleepless days and nights with small children.
I’ll admit that I don’t get to experiment as much as I’d like, but my favorite form of therapy is some good music and a new recipe (yes, James got that from me... and I did a lot of “therapy” while writing the book!) My family is never sure whether they’ll come home to Annie’s Shells and Cheddar or homemade porcini mushroom risotto. Fortunately, I live with some adventurous eaters!
VC: I see you've worked as a business consultant. How much of that did you bring into Andrea's character?
CL: Confession time: Andrea really is an alternate-reality me. I worked in corporate marketing for a lot of years, and then I did some consulting on my own after we moved out of state, so many of Andrea’s quirks and trials come from my own corporate days. I’ve experienced some scary things traveling alone on business, and I did often wake up in a hotel without any idea where I was.
VC: I've seen some criticism of your novel in Amazon reviews, saying it shouldn't be labeled a Christian novel. Would you like to comment on that?
CL: Sure. I think every writer runs into criticism, and I knew when I wrote the book that it wouldn’t be for every reader. Some of the objections just come about because of cultural differences between Americans and Brits. (For example, you can’t write an authentic story set in the UK without taking into account the drinking culture and the almost total lack of evangelical Christianity there.)
Above all, my goal was to show not an idealized version of a Christian life, but a relatable snapshot of a life in chaos: messy, difficult, and fraught with lots of mistakes and regrets. Spiritual awakening comes as a nudge or a long process as often as the immediate acceptance of an altar-call. No matter what we look like, how we dress, what jobs we do, or what mistakes lurk in our past, God’s salvation and forgiveness is for everyone… not just for those who live up to a particular standard of perfection.
VC: Family means a lot to both your hero and heroine. Did you glean any of these relationships from your own family?
CL: This is the one place where the book was very much fictionalized. I’m an only child with a good relationship with my parents, and I think part of me has always wondered what it would be like to have a sibling. But I have also seen through family and friends how difficult those relationships can be. The extreme differences in personality between my own sons made me think about the conflicts that could arise between brothers as well.
VC: How is your heroine Andrea Sullivan most like Carla Laureano?
CL: Andrea definitely shares my work ethic and ambition and the desire to have everything under control. Having kids has mostly shattered that illusion of control, but I’m still happiest when I’m juggling lots of projects and working towards big goals. (Plus, I like daring shoes.)
VC: Where did this story come from? What did it teach you?
CL: This story came along in layers. I originally just wanted to write a clean, general market romance about a Scottish celebrity chef and an American businesswoman. But as I started working with the characters and getting to know them, it was clear they had deeper issues. I realized I couldn’t be true to the characters and the story I was developing without addressing the spiritual component, so it became an inspirational novel.
I find it interesting (and not at all coincidental) that many of the lessons that my characters had to learn—slowing down to appreciate the important things in life, not building an altar to work—are the very things of which God is reminding me as I enter into one of my busiest seasons, in both my personal life and my career.
It’s fun when God uses your own words to speak to you. It’s really hard to ignore yourself!
VC: Congrats on a wonderful release, Carla. I wish you great success with this novel and future endeavors!
Carla Laureano has held many job titles--professional marketer, small business consultant, and martial arts instructor--but writer is by far her favorite. She currently lives in Denver with her patient husband and two rambunctious sons, who know only that Mom's work involves lots of coffee and talking to imaginary people.
Interested in reading Five Days in Skye? Carla is offering one reader a copy (paperback USA only, digital elsewhere). If you'd like to put your name in the hat, please add your email address with your comment before Monday, September 23, replacing @ with (at) and .com with (dot) com.
"Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws."
farm lit. Like many of her characters, Valerie and her family grow much of their own food and are active in the local food movement as well as their church. She only hopes her creations enjoy their happily ever afters as much as she does hers, shared with her husband, adult kids, and adorable granddaughters. Visit her website and blog to glimpse inside her world.