A gripping, uplifting book, that had me captivated from the start, to the very last word, with the descriptions of Sam and Josh’s Tanzanian honeymoon proving particularly delightful.
I have thoroughly enjoyed this series of books, to the extent that I feel genuine sorrow at this being the 5th book in the set. If you have not read any of this series before, then rest assured it is a fantastic stand alone read, although once you have read one of the series, you will undoubtedly want to read the rest of the quilogy. My solace as we approach the end of this series, is twofold. The marvellous Jessica Redland will have time to come up with another new addition to her book family, that she will want to share with her family of readers/fans, and secondly we still have ‘Christmas Miracles at Hedgehog Hollow’ to look forward to towards the end of the year. I was however thrilled to read that this won’t be the last that we hear of the rescue centre, in Jessica’s books. I do however have a confession! I am very strict about reading books for review in order of publication date – but this beauty – I simply had to get stuck into it as soon as I got my hands on it, and I was not disappointed.
Anyway, enough of me extolling the literary virtues and talent of Jessica Redland; once you have enjoyed this book (which you invariably will), then try out the other books in this series if you haven’t already, and look up Jessica’s other novels – you owe yourself a treat!
The first couple of pages of the book offer a ’who’s who so far’ from the series so far – a fantastic reminder to both ‘Hardened Hoggers’ and those new to the series, together with an ’in a nutshell’ reminder of the story so far. Although I consider myself a HH, I still found these thoughtful reminders really useful, so a big thank you for them!
Prior to Josh and Sam’s wedding, there seemed to be ’relationship rumblings’ between Josh’s Aunt Lauren, and Sam’s Father, although this was seemingly knocked on the head at the end of the previous book in this series, when Jonathan was seen dancing with his ex Wife Deb (Sam’s Mum), with the pair of them looking close. This was a prime example of the kind of plot twists I have come to expect from Jessica Redland. She really is the Queen of the unexpected. Lauren featured heavily in this last book of the HH series, and I found it most revealing, to find out a bit more about her earlier life. The reality behind what had happened to her Husband Shaun was a compelling mystery and I found myself hooked – desperate to find the truth.
Debs, Sam’s Mother, is an astonishingly complex character, whom I had initially thought of as downright unpleasant, especially with her treatment of Sam. Over Time, however, it has been revealed that she is suffering from mental illness, to which her behaviour can be attributed. I have found her character fascinating – the way that experiences in her life have built up in the way they have. During this series, the reader has gradually been able to get a greater understanding of her character and the way she is like she is. Debs is the onion of Hedgehog Hollow and gradually we have been rewarded by being able to peel away layer after layer of bad experience, getting inexorably closer to the ’Real Debs’. Sam’s relationship with her Mother has improved over time, and I have great hopes for them having a more normal relationship one day. As for her relationship with Sam’s Father, Jonathan, one has to wonder whether there is any hope for a resurrection of their relationship?
Riley, with his mesmerising eyes, made for an intriguing character, and I enjoyed the initial dynamic between him and Lauren. It felt as though Lauren had been unlucky in love all too often, and was well overdue a little luck in that department. Why on earth had Shaun left her so suddenly over twenty years ago?
I found myself genuinely caring about Riley’s Cad-Factor (how big a cad he is, or isn’t). It is undoubtedly testimony to Jessica Redland’s writing, that one finds oneself caring so passionately about fictional people and events.
Lauren makes for a very interesting character. I empathise with her and the seemingly one sided romantic affection between her and Jonathan – an all too real situation, broached by the author, but would she fare any better with Riley, whose Cad-Factor seemed to be rising exponentially! Is his C-F rating off the scale, or should Lauren give him the benefit of the doubt? is she misjudging him unfairly?
I can honestly say that I enjoyed every word of this book, from start to finish. I positively devoured it, yet found myself wanting more, as soon as I had finished. I loved the continuity throughout the books and I am in awe off Jessica Redland’s talent and memory, for remembering exactly who is who and how they are related. The way Jessica dealt with Lauren’s back story was beautiful – written with such sincere empathy. I don’t have any personal experience of what Shaun and Lauren went through, but I felt as though I gained a whole more understanding of the issues they went through.
I really felt for Sam with the feelings she was going through, regarding whether or nor she was ready to be a Mother. People are often all too judgemental and demanding on the topic of having children/trying to get pregnant, and the subject can open up a whole can of worms. The subject was dealt with in a very sensitive way in this book though, and so I have hight hopes for the Christmas HH finale. I have enjoyed every single book in this series, and as I have finished each individual book I have wondered to myself how the next book can possibly live up to the one I have just read. Jessica Redland just manages to pull it off every time though, when each new book surpasses its predecessors. I have no doubt that the final book will be the best and I can only replace my sadness with the hope of a new series from Jessica, to get my teeth into.
2 thoughts on “Chasing Dreams at Hedgehog Hollow – Jessica Redland”
I heard this was really good and now I know it is.
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Thank you so much for your absolutely gorgeous review. I’ve loved reading this as much as it sounds like you’ve loved reading the series. Really appreciate your kind words about my writing, characters and plots and that you understand that the series will end but there are plenty more exciting stories for me to still tell in various settings. Thank you for your kind support xx