Pia Temple has always had a soft spot for Jackson Moody following a passionate teenage love affair that burnt out over one long summer, more than ten years ago. First loves can be hard to forget, and the devastatingly gorgeous Jackson, is harder to forget than most.
After putting aside her ambitions while she cared for her parents, it is finally time for Pia to think about herself. So, when she’s offered the perfect job running the social calendar at Primrose Hall with a dreamy flat included, how can she refuse? There’s only one problem… The new owner of the refurbished seventeenth-century manor house set in the idyllicy Primrose Woods, is none other than Jackson, the man she’s thought about every day for years.
In a whirl of weddings and craft fairs, literary festivals and tea parties, Pia blossoms in her new role. But with the delectable Jackson a daily distraction, maybe this isn’t the dream job after all – especially when Jackson’s unfeasibly beautiful ex-girlfriend Tara, comes back to visit the hall.
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I was thrilled to have been given the opportunity to enjoy Jill Steeples latest book, having so enjoyed her past novels. Indeed The Author seemed to have struck the perfect balance between writing a new, self contained book, and enticing readers of her previous book with some tempting references to some erstwhile characters like Sam and Abbey and places like the Treetops Cafe. For me it felt a little like catching up with friends that I hadn’t seen for quite some time; whilst feeling that I needed to reacquaint myself with them, I felt unequivocally comfortable in their presence.
I both liked and felt for Pia from the very start; she was in a most unenviable position, having devoted the last ten years since leaving full time education to caring for her parents – having to clear and sell their house and then find a new job (with no real work experience). It was testament to Pia’s kind soul, that she seemed more bothered about how this move could affect her friend Wendy, than she was about her own prospects, The other part of Pia’s life that been neglected over the last ten years, is her love life – (lack of).
Pia’s memories of Jackson were totally idyllic – a real boost to my ‘mush factor’, although it’s a bit of a mystery as to why the old friends haven’t seen each other for so long. Pia did seem to feel that she had been somewhat abandoned by Jackson though. Pia’s Brother knew that Jackson was back, having bumped into him recently, with his Girlfriend in tow. Pia seemed deflated at the talk of a Girlfriend, so I hoped (in my open romantic little mind) either that he was mistaken, or it wasn’t a long term/permanent arrangement.
Ronnie, Jackson’s Mother, was an eclectic character. She was introduced very cleverly – to the extent that I was completely floored when it became apparent that she was female and not a man. Daniel the fireman was initially a welcome addition; at the risk of sounding sexier, what’s not to love about a firefighter! But could he be right for Pia? It’s somewhat ironic, Pia’s potential love life could be likened to public transport – the likelihood of a bus turning up seems remote, when suddenly two appear, in hot pursuit. There was however something about Daniel that I didn’t like – although I’m not 100% sure what it was; perhaps his attitude regarding his ex wife? I also found him to be a bit needy – i think he would drive me batty fairly rapidly! I’m not convinced that Bertie was that enamoured with Daniel even – and I thought he loved everyone! I just hoped that Daniel didn’t turn out to be some kind of bunny boiler type person!
Regardless of outside interests, I really loved the way that the new people such as Pia and Mateo. settled into Primrose Hall; it was starting to seem like it’s very own village community, safe and secure within itself. Pia mentioned similar feelings; I too felt almost as though I was on holiday, as I inhaled the pages of this book, greedily absorbing its narrative, as though I didn’t know where my next page might come from! I have to say though, that my favourite page was where Jackson offered Ruby his barn for her wedding. It was as though the pages had come to life, popping off the pages; I felt so emotional, and any vaguely lingering doubts I might have had about Jackson, dissipated immediately. He was such a kind, engaging young man; a real gentleman.
The new job seemed absolutely made for Pia, and I was so pleased that it ticked so many of Pia’s boxes, even allowing her to take her neighbour’s dog Bertie (Whom she was looking after temporarily) to live with her up at the ‘Big House’. Does the awkward moment with Jackson up at the ‘The Hall’ change their relationship for ever? Is the change for better or for worse?! Taking off changes, the atmosphere at the Hall certainly goes up a gear, upon the arrival of Rex, Jackson’s Father. Ronnie is fuming and threatening to leave, and Jackson is most unhappy. What has Rex done in the past to upset them? It almost certainly involves alcohol to some extent, since Rex makes a point of mentioning his three years sobriety. I just hoped that Rex wouldn’t let Jackson down
There are so many questions as a reader, but I don’t want to spoil it for you but revealing too much before you read this great book for yourself.
Do you ever get over your first teenage love? Indeed, do Jackson’s memories of teenage life reflect those of Pia at all?
Who/where is the Mother of Daniel’s Daughter?
Why is Tara back at the Hall
Has Pia made a mistake, living in the same place as she will be working?
If Simon comes home, is Pia at risk of ‘losing’ Bertie?
Is there some kind of ‘Lady Chattersly‘ type thing going on between Ronnie and Mateo?
Is Jackson really a ‘commitment-phobe’ or is it just that the right woman has never come up before?