Family Secrets at the Inglenook Inn – Helen Rolfe

I was very much looking forward to reading this book, having thoroughly enjoyed all the books by Helen Rolfe that I have read before.

The Inglenook Inn immediately sounded idyllic, and I found myself desperately wanting to stay there, especially under the care of Rupert! Rupert seemed a lovely chap, to whom I warmed immediately. His obvious love for his family and more pertinently his Sister Natalie was a joy to behold, but it seemed to me that he was missing something in his life. Could this slot be filled by Katy, or do they both have too much going on in their respective lives? Natalie is certainly taking up a lot of his time, and not really in a good way.

I felt for Katy and thought she dealt with her family circumstances in a most admirable manner, and she seemed the perfect fit for the Inglenook Inn. She did however seem to struggle with the idea of her Father remarrying. As for the past, she seemed to be harbouring a secret – but I had no clue as to what Katy might be hiding, and indeed why, although Natalie’s situation was perhaps a little too close to that of Katy’s Brother, David.

As Katy’s time at the Inn progressed, Rupert’s feelings for her seemed to grow, although Kate remained professional at all times. I vehemently hoped that Rupert’s feelings were reciprocated, and the feelings were going to be allowed to grown into something ‘real’. Rupert’s feelings seemed to an extent to be somewhat ‘broken’ and I was curious about what events he was harbouring from the past.

I found this to be a superb read, full of fun, together with a bundle of secrets – everyone seemed to have one for me to fathom. Not to be missed!

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The Golden Oldies’ Book Club – Judy Leigh

Deep in the Somerset countryside, the Combe Pomeroy village library hosts a monthly book club.

Ruth, librarian fears she’s too old to find love, but a discussion about Lady Chatterley’s Lover
makes her think again.

Aurora doesn’t feel seventy-two and longs to relive the excitement of her youth, while Verity is
increasingly tired of her husband Mark’s grumpiness and wonders if their son’s imminent flight from the nest might be just the moment for her to fly too.

And Danielle is fed up with her cheating husband. Surely life has more in store for her than to settle for second best?

The glue that holds Combe Pomeroy together is Jeannie. Doyenne of the local cider farm and heartbeat of her family and community, no one has noticed that Jeannie needs some looking after too. Has the moment for her to retire finally arrived, and if so, what does her future hold?

From a book club French exchange trip, to many celebrations at the farm, this is the year that everything changes, that lifelong friendships are tested, and for some of the women, they finally get the love they deserve.

I find it hard to articulate just how pleased and honoured I am to have been given the opportunity to review Judy Leigh’s latest book. I just love the fun and adventure in Judy’s books and the fact that her heroines are often older than what is stereotypical. Knowing that I will love this book, I have selfishly chosen a weekend when I am ‘home alone’, when I should be doing all manner of things in the house. Instead I am choosing to ‘book-binge’ on ‘The Golden Oldies’ Book Club’.

Bring on the fun!

I instantly warmed to both Jeannie and her Mother Violet, although I think that life hasn’t always dealt Jeanie the best hands. I get the impression that she has always ended up picking things up are other people have left, for example her Son leaving his two teenage children in Jeannie’s hands. loved Violet, with a joke or a scathing comment for every occasion, for example when she was talking about Ruth ‘That’s the problem with small skinny people. They are bossy little dictators.’ If did seem as though Jeannie was somewhat at a turning point in her life – and why the hell not – there was undoubtedly more to life. Has she taken on too much though, looking after her twin grandchildren while they study for their A levels? Is the Blossom Time Festival one event too many? Would the ‘grande finale’ of the festival be good for Sharrocks or not?

Aurora really did seem like the life and soul of the party, albeit a little sad that she was getting older, but most of all, I felt for Danielle – or did I? I felt for her, with her cheating, conniving Husband, but then she lost some of my respect for not doing anything about him. But then I suppose that is a bit of a fleeting thought on my part, not having been in that situation myself. It cannot be easy to either uproot oneself, or to chuck out said ‘Despicable Him’. The big question is as to whether it not it really is over this time……again…! I liked Danielle and I really wanted her to come out of her toxic marriage with a fair settlement, despite her ex doing his very best to ensure she got nothing from their business.

Aurora was actually a big of a mystery. She seemed quite happy living by herself, yet she seemed to have a bit of a thing for a guitar playing chap from her past – a man that if you asked her about him, she would claim not to remember him at all, but she clearly had very fond memories of him. Could he possibly be about to make a return to the area?

Ruth, although the extreme opposite of Aurora, even down to their given names, was an interesting character, but I just felt that she needed some kind of boost – some kind of injection of ‘va va voom’ or some such panacea. I just kept finding myself desperately willing for some of the ofher book club members’ spirit and confidence to rub off on her. I loved how she seemed to change, dependent on the subject/storyline, once immersed in a book

Mark and Verity seemed an odd couple – or were they? Were they odd, or was the fact that they were attending a book club together, odd? At the risk of sounding sexist, all the book groups I have ever known have actually been an excuse for a bunch of female friends to get together and have a hood old gossip over a glass of wine, with the occasional literary discussion thrown in. Maybe that’s just me and my uncouth friends, or could it be possible that Mark either doesn’t actually trust Verity to meet her female friends without him, or that he just enjoys throwing the odd provocative remark at tbe group, just to put the proverbial cat amongst the pigeons? Given one word to describe Mark, it would be ‘odious’.

The arrival of ‘new to the village Antony Palmer was most certainly a welcome visitor to the group, with his ideas ready to flatten the pompous Mark. My initial hope was that, alongside his Brother, he would inject a bit of verve and vigour into the village as a whole. Was Antony holding a bit of a flame for Ruth? He certainly seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time in the inadequate sounding library!

Barney is a real character, and I would say an asset to Jeannie’s cider farm – full of good ideas to increase revenue. I liked him a lot. Violet, Jeannie’s Mother is a consummate joker, and isn’t backwards in coming forward to give advice to others. I think I liked her, but did wonder if she might be predisposed to make trouble, either through sheer boredom, or just by getting the ‘wrong end of the stick’. She was most certainly adept at the classic ‘game’ of Chinese Whispers.

A book club / twinning trip to France with the group sounded an absolute hoot! What could possibly go wrong! Each member of the group was very much in need of a holiday, albeit for very different reasons. I found myself desperately wanting them all to get what they went for, but feared they would not.

Jeannie had been toying with the idea of selling up the cider farm – but would her passion be reignited by the ideas she garnered in France? What all the friends seemed to find in France was contentment.

This book had its funny moments that had me roaring with laughter, for example the sand yachting trip, and especially Aurora’s experience!

Of the friends, who will want to go back to their life exactly as it was? Indeed, even if they wanted to go back to how things were, whose life might be changed due to circumstances beyond their control? Regardless, a good thing that seemed to come from the French trip, was a sense of almost sisterhood, between the book club friends (amongst the women that is). A reciprocal exchange trip, with the French cider farmers coming over for Apple Day, was sure to offer fun and surprises. Amelie and Bruno certainly proved themselves ‘a hit’ as far as French exchange visitors go, although tension did rear it’d head with Jeannie, Barney and Bruno together in the same room!

Can Mark and Verity resolve their issues?

Will Jeannie retire and will she take a love interest?

Will Aurora reunite with and stop hiding from her past?

Can Barney bring himself to retire?

Will Ruth come out of her shell and get the romance she seems to crave?

Will Danielle find something new to do with her life?

To find out these answers and more, you will just need to read this fabulous book for yourself. I was really taken with it, about how everything is seasonal and lives and dies; how the apples go through their stages from blossom to harvest, and the cider has its own lifecycle. Alongside this, we have our own lifecycle, and choices to make, legacies to leave, memories to treasure.

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Finding Family At Seabreeze Farm – Jo Bartlett

Freya Halliwell is looking forward to marrying the man of her dreams and starting their new life together. After the death of both of her parents, Ollie, along with Freya’s aunt, are the only family she has, but all the family she needs.

Until Freya discovers a shocking secret that makes her question everything she thought she knew about her once happy family and especially the man she used to call dad. Devastated and feeling more alone than ever before, Freya needs time and space to come to terms with the news. But until
then the wedding is off!

Seabreeze Farm is the perfect place for Freya to recover. But could this beautiful farm perched high on the cliffs, also hold the answer to Freya’s past and reunite her with the family she never even knew she’d been wishing for?

I found myself rather excited to be reading a new book (the first of a new series?) by Jo Bartlett, having so enjoyed her Cornish Midwife series.

I immediately like both Freya and Ollie. I empathised with Freya, having suffered 2 bereavements (her parents) and I am a total sucker for someone with ‘kind eyes’, like Ollie. The couple were introduced in such a way, that I really felt immersed in their excitement at getting married, starting new jobs, and moving home, to live in London. Everything seemed just about perfect for the young pair. Life was good.

As for Karen and Ellie at Seabreeze farm – I truly admired their desire and drive to reinvent the farm – transforming it from a money pit into a money making concern. I must however confess to a bit of a ‘LOL’ moment, at the description of Ellie’s homemade Victoria Sandwich, the crunch being the ‘crunch factor’, courtesy of the added eggshells!

I totally warmed to the characters in this book – they just seemed so giving – for example the way that the Seebreeze Farm folk welcomed Freya into their family life. Freya for her part gave back, even helping with an inadvertent home birth (a sneaky bit of midwifery creeping in!)

I so wanted Freya to find her Father, and to perhaps revisit the episode with Ollie – was all exactly how it seemed?

You will of course need to read this great book for yourself, to find out what happens, but you will NOT be disappointed.

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Dax Hartley has made flowers his entire life, just like his late father did.

When his dad’s old florist’s shop is up for sale, he has to have it. Only problem is, he’d need to sell a
kidney to afford it.

The reality show Battle of the Blossoms is the perfect opportunity to win the money he needs, but when his childhood crush blows back into his life, distractions risk taking his eyes off the prize. He needs his head and heart to start working together to ensure he doesn’t miss the opportunity of a lifetime.

Hollyn Matthews has made some colossal mistakes in life.

When she’s dumped just as she’s expecting an engagement ring, she knows she’s put her heart into the wrong man. Hoping for a second chance at being a grown-up, she moves home to stay with her brother and his best friend Dax, a boy whose memory faded as she ran away from her past. Facing the hurt she left behind means facing some home truths about herself, but there’s one boy who has always loved her, if only she’d take the time to notice him.

I was very much looking forward to trying this book from a new (to me) author, and I must confess to welling up at the dedication to the author’s Father at the beginning of the book. I am sure he is looking down very proudly.

For me, this book started with an ‘explosive’ LOL’ moment at the wedding involving flowers and Dax, resulting in my instant warming to his character. I had an almost immediate juxtaposition of emotions however, upon meeting Hollyn. Needless to say, she needn’t have practiced her ‘surprised’ face. Battle of the Blossoms did however sound as though it could go some way towards solving Dax’s financial problems with regards to his Late Father’s flower shop. I looked forward to how this storyline was going to pan out, aided by Hollyn.

I did love the relationship that Hollyn had with her Brother River; he sounded like the perfect support in a time of crisis. It seemed right that Hollyn would turn to River at this time of need. I wasn’t sure what to expect of Hollyn staying over at River’s place, with his fiat mate, Dax, who has had a latent crush on Hollyn since childhood. I liked both characters, so would be open to them getting together, although it seemed as though Hollyn had a lot of pain to deal with in the first instance. It certainly seems however, that Dax has improved with age, like a fine wine! Tristan, on the other hand, was a complete waste of space, and downright unpleasant to boot!

I found Hollyn’s relationship with her parents, in particular her Mother, most distressing. It broke my heart when her Mother acknowledged and ‘allowed’ Hollyn to apologise for being such an awful Daughter! Methinks the apology should be reversed! Very very sad, although her Dad did redeem himself when he stood up for her when Tristan turned up!

So, will Dax be able to continue denying that he has any long held feelings for Hollyn?
Will het get to buy his late Father’s shop?

You will find these answers and more, when you read this great book for yourself.

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