Making Waves at Riverview Cottage – Jennifer Bohnet

I must confess to immediately empathising with Cassie, in that we both struggle to sleep at night. I genuinely felt for her too, as she worried about her Son Tom, Sailing (racing) around the world, 20 years after the death of her Husband, in a similar race. This was to be Tom’s last race, as he started a family with his Wife and I really felt for the family – willing him to not meet the same fate as His Father.

I was very interested at the introduction of Captain Jane’s White and wondered if there was any potential of romance between him and Cassie? I think Cassie deserved a bit of loving, after 20 years! Add wealthy Doug Hampshire into the mix and Cassie suddenly looks as though she may have 2 eligible men on the horizon! I understood why Cassie felt as though she had never left home, having been widowed with two small children at such a young age! I did wonder as to how much Cassie’s life would change, at the arrival of her friend Veronica, for an indeterminate stay!

Cassie’s Daughter Polly was facing her own dilemma – whether to continue trying to sail as a professional, or to give it all up and marry her navel officer beau, Sebastian. I found myself wanting her to turn down his proposal – who did he think he was, expecting Polly to give up her career aspirations just to marry him!?

The introduction of Becky and Trevor from Cassie and Her Husband Miles’ sailing days was a refreshing addition to the book and I loved how Cassie was able to reminisce about happy tines.

I admired Polly and her decisions – ‘Little Polly’ was certainly made of tough stuff! I liked that we had a pair of heroines of different ages and I loved that Cassie had two men vying for her attention, whereas Polly had 2 entities competing for her attention – a man, in the form of Dexter, and the sport of professional sailing.

I loved this book from start to finish and found myself having to ration my reading time, just to make it last a little longer!

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Lost Luggage – Samantha Tonge

What a treat – the chance to review another book from the Boldwood Family, and another book by the fabulously talented Samantha Tonge.

I immediately warmed to Dolly, and felt her loss. Being without her Sister has hit her hard. Dolly still bids at the annual lost luggage auction that she used to go to with her Sister Greta; historically, they would gift each other their winning lots and open their booty together on Christmas Day. They would often recycle/upcycle their finds. Despite the sadness, I was tickled by the idea of Dolly sharing her Christmas dinner with Maurice the goldfish – with him enjoying chowing down on his portion of peas! In fact ‘Maurice’s’ general outlook on life was rather amusing! The fish tank lid story was however devastatingly sad. Never have I ever felt so much for a goldfish!

The last thing Dolly expected to find in her luggage lot, was a mysterious notebook. Curiosity inevitably got the better of Dolly and she discovered that the notebook belonged to the reclusive ‘Phoebe’ and contained her wish list of ‘firsts’. 72 year old Dolly decides to try and complete the list of firsts herself – living vicariously through Phoebe’s notebook – and I for one was full of admiration for her enthusiasm and determination for the task at hand – but would she manage to meet Phoebe in person, in order to return some of her belongings?

Please do read this heartwarming tale – it is guaranteed to brighten your day.

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A Chance in a Million – TA Williams

I cannot tell you how pleased I am, to be given the opportunity to review the latest book from the fantastic TA Williams.

How could I not immediately warm to Jane, especially after we are given a glimpse of her previous life and all that she has been through and all that she has lost.

I loved Truffaldino – in fact I think I would struggle to read a TA Wiliams novel without the ubiquitous gorgeous black Labrador; always a welcome character. As for Veronica Leonard – she initially seemed a little prickly, but I felt sure she would appear more mellow, given time. I felt that if anyone could help her overcome the brewing depression since the death of her Husband, it would be Jane.

I loved the descriptions of Venice and of the estate in the hills – at times I almost felt as though I were there. The descriptions of the Italian food were simply divine and actually made my mouth water! As for the charity auction – I found myself enchanted by the whole occasion. Jane’s dress sounded out of this world, and her meeting debonair Paolo kind of ‘put the cream on the cake’ of the whole evening. Paolo seemed genuine – charm personified – and he joined Veronica’s Son David on my personal list of possible suitors for Jane. Indeed I found myself inordinately pleased to see that Jane’s summer estate accommodation was near to where David resided! Jane had experienced such a rough time of life in recent years, with her army work and the loss of her partner, that I found myself genuinely caring about what happened to her. I wanted her to live her best life and be happy – and if that meant finding herself in the arms of a charming suitor, all the better! There were hints at some kind of mysterious history between Veronica and Paolo, and I must confess to having my interest piqued at this snippet. Furthermore I did wonder as to whether there was some kind of history between Paolo and David?

I suspected that Veronica had fallen into some kind of depression after the death of her husband, but I felt that Jane was a real tonic for her in terms of her mental health, and she rapidly seemed to be helping to ease some of Veronica’s inner torment, helping her to enjoy life again. Perchance she would even start to write again at some stage, should Jane keep up her good work. It felt ironic – that Jane too had lost someone to whom she had been so close, so the two women were suffering similarly and it could actually be more that the two women were helping each other to overcome their grief, perhaps without even realising what they were doing for each other. David too didn’t sound like the happiest soul – and my curiosity was sparked as to the reason for his dark mood. When Jane actually met David, he was somewhat unkempt; not a man who seemed to care about how he looked! There also seemed to be some kind of intrigue as to why he had come out of the armed forces. There most definitely seemed to be some kind of spark developing between David and Jane – and in Jane’s words ‘What was the trouble with ‘poor David’ and why did she find herself thinking about him so often’? One thing for certain was that I loved the way that Jane could tell whether or not David was smiling, merely by looking at his eyes. My heart did sink for poor Jane when it looked as though David might be offering to come hiking with her – when in actual fact, he was offering Dino’s services! Y

Veronica’s Mother-in-law was a wonderful, sparkling character, as far removed from the stereotypical 95 year old as you could get! She seemed to defy her years, and I suspected she would be tremendous fun to be around.

Diana, Veronica’s Daughter was beautiful and charismatic – like a breath of fresh air, and I couldn’t help but be mesmerised by her. I sincerely hoped that Jane might find a good friend in her. Beatrice, Veronica’s other Daughter was equally delightful, although she had clearly been having some issues and was a little more reserved than her Sister.

I felt as though the simmering relationship between David and Jane, was gradually blossoming throughout the book; there was no doubting at all that Jane enjoyed being with him; close to him – even if David was a little more backwards in coming forwards when it came to demonstrating affection. However it definitely seemed augDavid was holding something back.

The cover of this book promised me ‘feel-good’ and I am delighted to confirm that this is exactly how I felt after reading this astonishing, uplifting book. We started off with a tangle of depression, sprouting into something new, better and exciting. The wave of relationships throughout was overwhelming, yet beautiful. A wonderful story of sad, damaged minds coming together, helping each other, creating something beautiful. An unforgettable story.

Christmas Miracles at Hedgehog Hollow – Jessica Redland.

My heart was taken the very first moment that I saw the cover of this book, with the cutest Santa-hatted hoglet on the cover. For an instant I felt a little sad that this was the last book in the Hedgehog Hollow series, but I then chose to see it as a celebration of the series and all things hedgehog, for Hedgehog Hollow’s ardent fans – the Hedgehog Followers.

This instalment finds Sam growing her Hedgehog Hollow family yet again, in more ways than one – although I am not going to give out any spoilers here.

I was thrilled to read more about the lovely Fizz, who has taken a bit of a back seat in the past, although I confess to being most uncertain of Fizz’s partner Yasmin. I just hoped that a chink in Fizz’s relationship could leave things open for the painfully shy Phoebe, who has had a crush on Fizz since forever! When I read about Fizz first day living with Yasmin, I was truly devastated at how Yasmin treated Fizz and her gorgeous cat, Jinks. I simply couldn’t get my head around how vile and insensitive she was. I was also distraught at the thought of Fizz having been the victim of sexual abuse, although I did think that Jessica Redland dealt with the topic in her usual empathetic manner- but then that is what I have grown to expect with any ’difficult’ subject. I preferred Robbie’s words – that Fizz was a survivor of abuse, as opposed to a victim. I was relieved that Fizz had good friends to talk things over with though – not everyone has that level of trust with anyone.

Throughout this series, I have had a lot of time for Josh – he seems like the perfect man and partner. I must however confess to quashing a tear or two however, when he turned up at an unwell Terry’s house with Sam’s sleep things, ready to takeover Sam’s vigil over Terry. This was completely unprompted. You couldn’t get any further from Yasmin’s behaviour, regardless of how long you tried to find some redeeming demeanour from her. Sam and her family have all brought something special to the locale.

The way that Sam’s relationship with her Mother, Debbie, has transformed over this series of book is both astonishing and heartwarming in equal measures, illustrating that its never too late. Furthermore, the way that Jessica Redland has dealt with mental illness as a whole, with Sam’s PTSD and Debbie’s issues, is both intelligent and empathetic, with a huge side helping of compassion. its proof that there’s help out there and that people these days are more understanding of mental problems.

Sam’s nurturing powers are predominant again. She seems to gather human ’waifs and strays’ at a rate to rival her animal rescues. It is thanks to Sam that Phoebe and Darcie have a home, and that Terry has someone to care for him. One can but love and admire Sam’s compassion and sense pof fiyp,despite her earlier family life not having been the greatest. Of Debbie, Sam said ’I’d kept trying, I’d shown her kindness’ – a clear overlap from her animal care experience, yet nonetheless relevant.

The concept of having a baby whisked straight off the SCBU and the consequent breastfeeding issues were dealt with just as I remembered myself – so realistic that I felt pretty emotional! As for Brenda, 10/10 to Sam for sticking up for herself and others, and for showing those less confident, how to deal with conflict. Post-natum can be an emotional time and I felt as though the author dealt with this time in an appropriately compassionate way, although having read the very personal acknowledgements at the back of the book I can see why the problem was written about so succinctly. It is truly terrible, when someone who is meant to be there for you on a professional, yet highly personal level, behaves in such a terrible way, as to affect your big life decisions.

This book left me feeling positive about the future for Sam’s friends and family. In particular, I thought that Fizz was going to be ok. Sam and her friends and family have come a long way and many relationships have changed beyond recognition, mostly for the better. The relationship change that has made me happiest though, is that between Sam and her Mother. This whole series has made me happy and has left a warming happy core inside me. I am very much looking forward to hearing Gwendoline and Thomas’ story, with a generous side helping of Terry. Thank You Jessica, for such a truly inspiring, uplifting series of books, that has brought me so many hours of pleasure. Once a Hogger, always a Hogger🦔

Finally, I should point out how nice if was to read a book based in a COVID free world – how wonderfully refreshing to be able to get away from it all for a few hours.

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Christmas at the Borrow a Bookshop – Kiley Dunbar

Having read the previous instalment in the ‘Borrow a Bookshop’ series, I was both thrilled to be given the opportunity to review this book, and equally elated to discover that Jude had remained involved with the running of the book store. I am so looking forward to seeing what the residents, both old and new, get up to over the festive season.

I immediately loved both the concept and the super-Christmassy cover. What better way to get oneself into the festive spirit, even in September!

Icelander Magnús Sturluson is renting out the bookshop in Clove Lore for the prime Christmas weeks. It will be interesting to see who learns most from whom in those two short weeks. Am I permitted to that anyone renting out the bookshop by themselves, is trying to get away from something? We shall see!

Alexandra Robinson needs to perhaps take a moment and think, before she reacts – then she might not have found herself on a boat, potentially sailing into a storm. In her defence however, her boyfriend had been a Class Arse, with not a lot going for him!

At first I wondered why Magnus had gone for the rent a bookshop experience,but it did all become clear, and I really felt for him, having basically lost everything,through no fault of his own. Were he to apply himself to his full potential, I think he could bring a lot to this little Cornish bookshop. The bookshop experience was a jokey gift from his Brother and the irony of it all was not lost on me.

Finan the pub landlord, was the heart of the village and I loved the irony of his pet name for holidaymakers renting the bookshop – The Borrowers. This conjured up all kinds of lovely, memorable images from childrens TV past, for me!

Mrs Crocombe was a legend in the village and I adored the unashamed way that she tried to matchmake any singleton that stepped foot in the village, in a brazen attempt to swell the numbers  and subsequently keep her Head Teacher Daughter in a job. She was a hoot, and subtlety was most definitely not her middle name!

Aldous the dog was a great character and I loved the way that he scowled and sulked about his new vet recommended, dog appropriate diet, as opposed to his preferred cheese sandwich and soup regimen.

Nearly all the Christmas bookings at the pub had been cancelled, due to the severely inclement weather, but there was hope that tiger local bookings would still stand, so that new villagers and old, permanent and temporary residents could come together for the festive season. How idyllic.

You cannot deny that Magnus and Alexandra share some commonality – they are both running away from something. One hopes that they can put the things they have in common to good use, but I am not going to let on what happens – you will need to read on for yourself to find out.

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