Autumn in Sycamore Park – CP Ward

OK, I need to get this out in the open. I know that I am over 50 years old, but I couldn’t suppress the giggles at our heroine’s dog being named ‘Bonky’, even more so when we discover that Jennifer’s class of school children at the time had come up with the name!

I did feel for Jennifer, being thrown into what was the lion’s den of a class of 8 year olds; children can sense a lack of confidence in a teacher a mile off, and will not hesitate to take advantage of the situation. Once they sense a soft spot, you are pretty much doomed. I did think however that Jennifer would have gone down in history as the teacher who most shaped your life, for many of her pupils.

Jennifer seemed to fitting into her new school and location – and then came along Tom, the gorgeous Park caretaker. To say that he was a surprise, is a massive understatement! The more I learned about Jennifer’s past, especially with regard to Mark, her Ex, the greater my admiration for her and I found the way her stomach got butterflies when she was around Tom, really quite endearing. I found myself liking Tom due to the fact that he did the park job because of the difference he could make, rather than because he had to do the job.

For someone who ’wasn’t interested’ in Tom, Jennifer certainly did her best to find out as much as possible about him, and was clearly very interested him, despite her recent break up. I might even go as far as to suggest that a ’bit of a thing’ with Tom was just what her life needed! A threat to the beauty of Sycamore Park certainly gave Jennifer a sense of purpose in her life, having only just felt settled in the area.

Can Jennifer save Sycamore Park?

Will Tom and Jennifer become more than friends?j

Can Jennifer help Gavin make a success of the cake stall?

You will need to read on for yourself to find out:

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A Leap of Faith for the Cornish Midwife – Jo Bartlett

I find it difficult to articulate just how thrilled I am to have been granted the privilege to read the latest offering in the unparalleled Cornish Midwife series; a new opportunity to showcase the fabulous work of Jo Bartlett.

I found it poignant that the book was dedicated to the relationships between Grandchildren and Grandparents, so I feel compelled to mention my late Grandmother, Maisie. She was very much a family woman and especially adored the young children in our family. She worked in the merchant navy in the laundry but I could have imagined her in a caring career, such as midwifery.

I liked the face that this book concentrated on one main character from the same midwifery practice as the other books. Izzy’s story is bitter-sweet and I just yearned for something positive to come from her relationship with her Mother. Izzy’s relationship with her Grandparents was second to none and I loved how their affection defied age boundaries. i felt sad that Izzy’s grandmother had cancer, yet pleased that they were able to make the nest of the time they had left. Noah the vicar was a welcome character and I adored how he he built up relationships with both Izzy and her Grandparents. I found the fact that Noah questioned his vocation refreshing. As for James and his Wife – I have no words.

In all this book had everything – fun, romance, love, tragedy, but those united to make this a fantastic, uplifting read – surely worthy of its own tv series?

The Colour Of Summer – Victoria Connelly

To say that I was excited to read the final chapter in Victoria Connelly’s ’The House in the Clouds’ trilogy, was a veritable understatement; to say that I was ’chomping at the bit’ would not be an exaggeration! What a treat to be given the opportunity to be one of the first people to read about what happens to ’Abward’ and the House in the Clouds.

I love the way that Abi is so happy living in The House in the Clouds’, proclaiming to be enchanted by it every day! what a wonderful way to live your life, especially when those closest to her, seem so attuned to her feelings. I confess however that I would personally be happier knowing that ’Abward ’ had become an actual thing, as well as knowing that things were better for Ellen, Abi’s Sister. It’s hard to quantify what her actual problem was, but it seemed to be eating away at her. As for ‘Abward’ – I just felt like banging their heads together, until they’re able to see what is blatantly obvious to all that know them!

I fear for Edward, in that he is do kind and non confrontational – perhaps liable to be taken advantaged of. This behaviour is illustrated by his reluctance to talk to Samantha about her excessive loud partying habits. I did however have high hopes for the ’Abwood’ relationship, and felt my heart flutter at every nuance of romance between the pair.

We discovered a little of what had driven Abi to Winfield House, in some frank, beautiful, yet shocking writing – all the more shocking, in that these kinds of situations take place every day. We were still left in the dark at first as to why Abi’s sister, is so very prickly. it would be good to see her lose some of those spikes in this book. The mystery surrounding Ellens sadness/crossness starts to intensify, but she is so difficult to talk to. If something did happen to one of the Sisters, Abi really does deserve to know about it, even it does ultimately simply lead to a better understanding for Ellen. It felt to me as though the differences between Abi and Ellen and their memories of the past, with their Mother, was somewhat reflected in Edward and his Brother’s recollection of the past, with their Father.

I loved the feeling (aura?🤓) that exuded from Harry and Aura’s relationship, but couldn’t help but imagine his life would be different (for the better), with Aura at his side. How wonderful the he genuinely feels that he has found sheer joy in his life. I felt so overcome with sadness however, at Aura’ s Mother’s reaction to their engagement and I just wanted to reach out and hug Aura.

Abwood had so much in common, perhaps without realising it – it felt as though a hopeless parent and a hopeless sibling was just the start of any connection. Edward’s Brother Oscar seemed particularly selfish. What I didn’t understand was Edward’s need tie about his Father’s death – unless he had just told Abi he was dead, as he didn’t want the pair to meet?

The more that we hear about Abi and Ellen’s Mother’s past, the more I fear for Ellen, especially her mental health. It started to feel like a self perpetuating loop, whereby Ellen was going to have mental health issues, regardless of where she was or who she was with. These kinds of episodes wsasa2#@must be terrifying for all involved. It did feel as though, having suffered together with their Mother, the Sisters needed to seek answers together.

Harry and Aura together, are a bright light in a book that has some dark moments. it’s as though they are the glue holding the book together.

together, these eclectic characters create a real, vivid story, that one struggles to put down.

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Who Do You Think You Are Maggie Pink – Janet Hoggarth

I was uncertain at first as to whether or not I was going to like this book from a new (to me) author. However, the further I went into the first chapter, the more I was hooked in a maelstrom of sentiment, such was the power and emotion of the writing. Reader, you could not fail to be moved, and a few tears are inevitable. I ended up loving the book, and I hope that you will too.

Whilst I would question whether or not Maggie ever felt as though she entirely belonged in her adopted family, I immediately empathised with her and found her to be a strong, believable character. I can see that if someone is adopted, they might eventually want to find their ’birth’ Mother so was not surprised when Maggie embarked on such a journey herself. It seemed totally in keeping with Maggie’s character, that she only commenced her search once her adopted Mother had died.

What I was surprised at, was the mine of raw emotion that seemed to be uncovered, and I feared for Maggie. Would finding her birth mother be the panacea to all that was wrong in her life, or would it only dredge up more grief and turmoil for our kind heroine?

You will of course have to read the book for yourself, to find out, enjoying Maggie’s adventures along the way.

To purchase for yourself:

A Wedding in Tuscany – Sandy Barker

Having read one of Sandy Barkers books before, I was very excited to given the opportunity to read this new book, ’A Wedding in Tuscany’. Although it is actually one of a series of books, I found it read perfectly as a standalone book.

I really liked the way this book was written, with individual chapters dedicated to either of the Sisters, Cat and Sarah.

Cat is the most wonderful, uplifting character; the more you read about her, the more you want to read about her. She is a veritable rose amongst the gritty, thorny reality of contemporary fiction characters. I simply couldn’t get enough of her, and having read the first few chapters of the book, it really mattered to me, whether or not she got the romantic wedding of her dreams or not. I really do not know how Sandy Barker gets the inspiration for her wonderful, inspiring characters! I love the dynamics within families, particularly those involving the women in the families, and I was tickled by the ‘And this is her special day, so let’s just start deciding things then move onto the next’ comment made by Cat’s Mum to Cat’s Sister, Sarah, when they were discussing the organisation of Cat’s upcoming nuptials, and what Cat might want for her special day! Sarah too was a wonderful character and an an amazing Sister to Cat. An example was when she offered to swap venues – to let Cat have her mystery 40th birthday venue for the wedding, whilst Sarah would have ’Creepy Towers’ for her Birthday party. Cat refused this kind offer of course, and I was relieved for Josh, when he had spent so much time arranging Sarah’s Birthday party. Cat’s betrothed, Jean-Luc sounded simply delightful in both senses of the word; indeed I’m sure my insides turned slightly more towards mush, every time the utterance ’Cherie’ came out of his mouth, intended for Cat.

I love Italy, and the thought of a wedding in Tuscany sounded particularly endearing; the food, the scenery and some fabulous characters – what’s not to love! I couldn’t agree more with Cat’s suggestion of taking the time to soak everything in; indeed this is one of my favourite ways to make the most of a new place – letting the sights, sounds and smells just seep in. Wonderful. I particularly relished the selfless generosity of the author, in allowing us readers these moments.

Something that had me puzzled, was Cat’s reluctance to not only live in Paris, but to even broach the subject. There must surely be something more than Cat’s rocky relationship with her In-Laws, to which this reticence to even talk about the future must be attributed? Regardless, it warranted fairly urgent discussion, preferably before the wedding! Sarah also had me puzzled, with her reticence to have a joint wedding/40th birthday celebration. It seemed that at times she was overcompensating with wedding preparations, in order to avoid her looming 40th celebration. Both Sisters seemed to be in major avoidance mode, with little evidence as to why. However, once it had been ascertained that Cat really had lost her wedding dress, it transpired that the over – exuberant wedding preparation might actually be justified!

I loved the idea of the ’bad-ass’ gal that was Adventure Chick, nut I think its one of those concepts that you will need to read about for yourself, in order to fully grasp its gist!

I really did feel for Cat, when it came to choosing a room wIthin their chosen wedding venue for the actual ceremony; the author had done a fantastic job of making both options sound equally awful – swathed in darkness, cobwebs and various deceased creature memorabilia! Sandy Barker’s gift for descriptive language came to the fore, in the way that she made the dreadfulness of the situation seem so equally real, yet pressing. Cat would have been forgiven, had she gone into full Bridezilla mode at this point, having already discovered that her wedding dress was missing, but she remained relatively calm at this point. Humour was kept alive throughout the book though, an example being the flippant suggestion of an Indiana Jones themed wedding! I must also confess to having had a terrible ‘snaughing’ moment over the revelation of Roberto the masseur! Conversely, I confess to shedding a tear at Cat’s vulnerabilty

Snaugh /snaːf/

snaugh noun – when something is so hysterically funny that your sides hurt as you laugh energetically, whilst simultaneously snorting unattractively (often involving copious amounts of snot), captive to laughter. A solitary moment – nobody else tends to have the slightest clue what is quite so uproariously hilarious, which makes the whole situation even funnier!

I felt terribly sad that Cecile and Cat didn’t get on; again it is a genuine testament of the author’s fabulous writing, that I find I care so much. we didn’t initially have too much information about the relationship, other than an inkling that Cecile had previously been a bit of a bitch towards Cat, and that she liked Jean-Luc’s ex. I must confess though, to liking a bit of drama and I was starting to have doubts over whether or not the wedding would actually happen or not, when you looked at the Cecile situation and combined it with the fact that Cat and Jean-Luc still hadn’t spoken about where they were going to live, post wedding – and we are not talking about something simple as which apartment to live in – but about which country to set down roots.

So many questions. Will the pre-weds find a venue and a dress?

What is Sarah’s problem with her 40th Birthday? I am not going to spoil things for you – you will have to read the book to find out.

Daisy’s French Farmhouse – Lorraine Wilson

I felt enthusiastic at the idea of trying a book by an author new to me, and I was not disappointed.

I immediately discovered that this book was one of a series, so I made good use of the helpful ’who’s who’ at the start of the book. I also liked the ’food for thought’ literary quote at the start of each chapter.

I instantly warmed to our heroine, the eclectic, maybe slightly whacky, Daisy, with her vivaciousness and joie de vivre. Whilst I felt sad at Daisy’s reason for wanting to go to France, it really tickled me, that her Gran was currently residing in an Ashram! Then, as if I needed convincing that Daisy came from a somewhat unconventional family, it transpires that Daisy has a history of having seeming random physic abilities.

Daisy most definitely has a gift and the mature way in which she deals with it is most laudable; indeed it adds to the realism of the storyline.

Daisy’s new neighbour, Anton seems swathed in mystery – or is it sadness at the death of his Wife? Is it possible that Daisy’s presence could go some way towards restoring his mojo? The downside to this idea is that by the very nature of their relationship, Daisy is more likely to spend time with Anton’s dogs, than she is with the man himself. The dynamic between Daisy and Anton is interesting, enriched by a combination of Daisy’s special powers and Anton’s professional knowledge. At times I wondered whether Anton had a similar gift to Daisy’s, but was reluctant to admit it. The sexual chemistry between Anton and Daisy is rampant, but Anton initially seemed far from moving on from his relationship with his late Wife.

The way Daisy interacts with the dogs in the book is adorable; it’s almost as though she speaks Dog and she seems ultra aware of their individual physical and mental needs.

As a whole, this book is very aware of the strong relationships between dogs and their humans, and depicts these relationships beautifully. For me, it struck just the right balance between romance, humour and intrigue, with a generous helping of history and stunningly beautiful buildings and countryside thrown in for good measure!

Questions did pop into my head as I read though:

  • Will Daisy and Anton become more than friends? (Can Anton move on from his Wife?, or would there always be three ’people’ in any potential relationship between our two heroes)?
  • Can Daisy really make a new life for herself in France?

There was however one thing of which I was certain – I found myself drawn towards reading the other books in the French Escape series.

To find out the answers to these questions and more, you will need to read the book for yourself.

Purchase link:

A Little Hotel in Cornwall – Books 1-8 – Laura Briggs

I loved these books from start to finish; from the richness and depth of the characters, to hotel life and the descriptions of the Cornish countryside. At times, if I closed my eyes, I felt as though I was there as I immersed myself in Cornish life. Most of all, I loved Maisie as a character. Her impetuousness was infectious and I enjoyed how she stumbled from one drama to another, ever forgetting her ultimate goal of having her book published.

I don’t want to ruin the stories for you; you will have to read on for yourself, to see if our infectious heroine achieves her life goals – but I defy you not to thoroughly enjoy Maisie’s journey, from ’falling’ into a chambermaid job, to falling in love. Highly recommended.

To read for yourself: