Welcome to Freya’s French Farmhouse, the second book in a brand new series from the author of the Hummingbird Hotel series and the Cornish Confetti Agency series.
Escape to the French Riviera!
After losing her aromatherapy studio in the Blossomwood Bay fire, Freya Farnham finds herself at a loose end, especially when her trusty Renault decides that it’s time to head to the scrapyard in the sky. Now she has no excuse not to agree to her parents’ request to head to the pretty village of Saint-Julien to find out why her late Uncle Toby’s gorgeous French farmhouse isn’t selling, even when the real estate agent, Xavier Deschamps, advertises himself as “the best in the whole of Provence’
As soon as she arrives, Freya realises what the problem is, and so, with the help of handsome local car mechanic Jacques Jordan, she invests her last euro in a kaleidoscope of cleaning products and sets about transforming the drab and dusty dwelling into a chic and shiny château. Little did she know that in the process she would discover more about her family’s history than she bargained for.
Can she come to terms with her past? Or will the demons that have been snapping at her heels since childhood prevent her from seizing the chance to achieve a much-longed-for sense of belonging in the friendly community where she’s treated as one of their own?
Why not join Freya as she explores the lavender-infused Provençal countryside, and enjoy a trip filled with fun, fragrance, and delicious foodie treats with a dash of heart-warming romance thrown in for good measure!
I love Daisy James’ books and her fabulous, strong heroines and so I was absolutely over the moon to be gifted the opportunity to review Daisy James’ latest instalment in the Blossomwood Bay series, and to be given the chance to discover more about Freya’s story, even if this meant having to relive the sadness of the beach hut fires and what it meant to Freya and her Friends and their respective businesses.
One thing did seem certain to me – that Freya had always underplayed, especially to her close Friends, just how much her Uncle Toby’s estate had meant to her, at the height of his glory. Indeed I am fairly certain that she underplayed just how close she to Uncle Toby and his stable lifestyle, to herself. Uncle Toby’s lifestyle could be described as the antithesis of her Parents nomadic way of life.
Xavier, the estate agent trying to sell Uncle Toby’s property, does seem to be a bit of a cad, initially, but as time goes on, ‘the situation’ seems to mellow somewhat. Could it be that Xavier was in actual fact, a right old softy? Freya would soon find out, as a serendipitous series of events see her flying off to Late Uncle Toby’s ‘pad’ in southern France.
I loved the vivid descriptions of the French landscape and at moments, almost felt as though I were there! It was sweet that whilst Freya could recall little of where the village where her Uncle had lived, what she did most certainly remember was the freedom that she was given in those days to things by herself, such as cycling to the village to stock up on boulangerie. There is a mystery though, once Freya arrives at the old farmhouse – just who has been keeping up the grounds? Equally mysteriously, who has turned the pigeonnier into such a magical space?
Jacques was a welcome addition to the story and I found myself liking him immediately.z could he have anything to do with the work that was being done np at the farmhouse? As for other local, colourful characters, Esme was like a welcome breathe of fresh air through the village! As for Xavier – well, he seemed to be about as appealing as Asme’s baking – maybe they can both redeem themselves in their own ways!!?? My heart did sink however at Freya wanting to sell the farmhouse to someone who loved it – I absolutely adore that sentiment, but just hoped that I’m reality someone could live up to that expectation. She was however up against restaurateur Henri and his pledge to ‘ensure that your time in Saint-Julien is the best time of your life, filled with delicious French food, great French wine, and extraordinarily handsome French friends ‘ – so that she wouldn’t want to return hone ever!
Davide was a bit of a character, but I felt he got his just desserts for opening up doors that he was implored to leave alone! I felt as though he was surrounded by an aura of distrust and I was desperate for Freya not to sell the house to him!
There seem to be quite a few men hanging around Freya, but are any of them whom they seem at the start? Who really had Freya’s best interests at heart?
You will of course need to read on for yourself to find out, but .I am sure that you will enjoy this ray of sunshine in book form!
Patsy Clements lives in Croftwood. It’s been her sanctuary for three years while she rebuilt a life for herself that is safe and happy. Out of necessity, she has learnt to live without ambitions or dreams, but she does have her best friend Oliver who means everything to her.
Oliver Jones owns the trendy local coffee shop and establishes himself as the town entrepreneur when he buys the derelict old cinema in the park. Bringing it back to life is going to be a challenge and he wants his best friend Patsy to be his business partner.
After lying low for three years is it a mistake for her to change the life that has kept her safe or is it time to start living again? Will stepping into the limelight tempt fate and mean her past catches up with her and can she survive if it does?
Join Patsy and Oliver in the small town of Croftwood for a summer where friendships are made, challenges are everywhere and romance blossoms at the cinema in the park.
I haven’t read any books by Victoria Walker before, but I do absolutely adore going to the cinema, and the thought of a derelict cinema within a park, in need of some TLC, gives me goosebumps; I do so love concepts that are quaint or even off-piste, so I can’t wait to get started. Indeed, my favourite cinema experience ever, was watching Casablanca (I always thought I hated black and white movies), in New England, at my first ever open air viewing, sat on a picnic blanket, accompanied by family and the requisite luxury picnic. There is nothing so ‘different’ near me in the UK, although I’m afraid I have become a bit of a fan of the luxury reclining seats available these days. As an aside, I genuinely loved the cover of the book; I found it to be endearing and inviting – almost bewitching, trying to draw me in (and succeeding) as a reader. I do think that the cover of a book is so important – shallow though it may be, I am invariably enticed into reading a book by:
a) It being written by an author whose books I have enjoyed before, and
b) By the book’s cover. It’s a common belief that a person is attracted to food by the look of it, and I am much the same with the books I choose to read. I know the old adage advises us ‘not to judge a book by its cover’, but I’m afraid that is exactly what I do and why a book’s jacket is so important to me.
I immediately loved the easy going dynamic between Patsy and Oliver, illustrated by the ease with which Patsy forgave Oliver for being late for work at his coffee shop, despite it having been extraordinarily busy. The way that Patsy shared in Oliver’s enthusiasm for having bought the town’s derelict cinema, was equally endearing.
I did however feel rather old, when the cinema was described as having been ‘closed for years’, and this was then elaborated upon as being ‘since 1997’! The 90’s, especially the late 90’s seem somewhat less time ago than 26 years! I did adore Oliver for his enthusiasm for his new project – akin to an overexcited puppy. In actual fact, I found myself so consumed by just the first few pages of this book, that it had to augur well for the remainder of the tale. I did of course have romantic aspirations for our heroes very early on, and so was disappointed to read about Oliver going home to a ‘high maintenance’ girlfriend called Amy! Time of course will tell whether or not that relationship will thrive or not, but it didn’t seem a good sign, when it transpired that Oliver had thus far been too scared to tell Amy about his seemingly rash purchase! One thing that I garnered from the first chapter of the book, was that Patsy had a mysterious secret from her past, which she seemed to have locked away in her very own Pandora’s box’. This revelation made me slightly anxious, having really warmed to Patsy as a character. Such was the quality and believability of the writing, that I found myself genuinely concerned about Patsy’s outcome, should her secret be revealed, and I had to remind myself that this was ‘just’ a book!
The mysterious Toby, a cafe regular, was an interesting character. Could he be a potential love interest for Patsy, or at the least a new friend? The same could be said for Ed, the projectionist expert. I couldn’t however see much love happening between Matt the architect and Patsy – he seemed far too much of a chauvinist, lacking in both sense of humour and personality! Perhaps he would turn out to be an acquired taste! It did make me chuckle, the ‘will she /won’t she , ‘should I/shouldn’t I’ thing (I was going to say ‘affair, but for obvious reasons I will ‘stick’ with ‘thing’), that was going on between Ed and Patsy. I must however confess to truly loving the way in which Ed shared his ‘baby’ with Patsy, so he lovingly showed her the inner workings of the university’s projection box.
Matt did actually start to seem as though he didn’t quite have the ‘misogynistic arse’ tendencies with which Patsy had first attributed him. could he have hidden depths? He certainly seemed like a very good Father to his twin infants.
So, if you do nothing else this month, why not join me in reading this wonderful book as it flows through its story, and find out its secrets for yourself? Dare I suggest that the old cinema may have some special magic to cast upon some of its characters?
Three friends set sail on a luxury cruise… will they be able to catch a husband on the open seas?
Leaving behind the heartache, guilt and disappointment of their real lives, three friends decide that now they’re in their sixties, it’s time they finally did something for themselves!
Swapping Christmas turkeys and BBC reruns for crystal waters, white sandy beaches and smooth golden rum, Anne, Jane and Kath throw caution (and tradition) to the wind as they set sail on a luxury two-week Christmas cruise around the Caribbean.
Will the three friends find the comfort and joy they seek aboard the Diamond Star?
I was thrilled to be gifted the opportunity to review Caroline James latest book, having so enjoyed her previous offering, ‘The Spa Break’. Jane, Anne and Kath constituted a down to earth, fun-loving triumvirate of long standing (note the deliberate avoidance of the word ‘old’ here) friends, that I couldn’t help but like, and ‘historically smug’ Sylvia was enough to drive any sane person to drink.
Oh what a treat, for our heroines to be over 30 years of age! On a more serious note, I couldn’t help but note how a woman who would now be classed as a bully, was still able to reduce poor Kath to mush, decades after they had been at school together and I did so feel for Anne, left broke by a cheating Husband – and was Sylvia one of the women he cheated with? I felt as though Kath particularly deserved a holiday; it would be interesting to hear how her family got on without her, since it seemed as though her adult Sons and their families, took advantage of her somewhat, and she seemed to care too much about what her nasty specimen of a late a husband might have thought about every aspect of her holiday. I found myself flabbergasted that her needy greedy Sons were trying to get her to sign her house over to them! It reminded me of a film I saw recently, where ‘Mother’ was on a geriatric ward, and had the audacity to die, just before the cut off where Her Daughter and Son-in-law would escape inheritance tax! The family were actually complaining that the ward hadn’t kept her alive long enough for them to collect their bootie!
A Christmas cruise in the Caribbean sunshine sounded like the perfect antidote to any woes, for the three friends. Recently widowed Selwyn seems a genuine kind of chap, but is the wound of widowhood still too raw for him to embark on any romantic shenanigans on his cruise? He was clearly a sensitive soul, in that he was ‘sharing’ his holiday with his late Wife, allowing her to holiday vicariously through his own experiences, scattering her ashes along the way. I saw his actions as making reparation for the things she never did while alive, although he maybe had a bit of a mischievous streak in his choices of scattering locations, because as the book progressed it almost seemed as though Selwyn was deliberately exposing ‘Flo’ to things she has never liked – almost revealing a slightly darker side to his love for his late Wife. I don’t think that he had a nasty bone in his body though. As for cruise entertainer Dickie – I just hoped that he would do no wrong towards my three heroines; such was their introduction, I found myself strangely protective of them – akin to looking out for a grandmother – and he did come across as a bit of a ‘Slimy sleezeball’ – AKA a complete arse!
My three heroines did manage to realise one of my dreams though, at the very start of their trip – to be upgraded on a flight, and I thought they thoroughly deserved every single moment of their little taste of luxury. Jane likened her and Kath to two peacocks in their colourful new dresses, I would perhaps liken them to two phoenixes; they really seemed to be ‘letting go’ on this cruise – a kind of rebirth and then rising up from the ashes .
I felt really sad that Jane had body issues – she was acutely conscious of being overweight and was constantly over analysing what she thought other people were saying and thinking and worrying about things like chairs not bearing her weight. I can remember being desperate for a dip in the ocean on a beautiful beach in Florida, but just feeling too fat – so I really did empathise with her. I so wanted something good to happen to Jane, to help her feel better about herself; nobody should have to feel like she does. Jane’s friends are supportive of her, but I do think that unless you have ‘walked in her shoes’, you cannot fully comprehend how she feels and why.
I am acutely aware of the concept of obesity being an illness and this was arguably illustrated by Jane at the dinner table on night one of the cruise, when for all her insecurities about her size, she still wonders whether there are any seconds! I thought it ironic that at the moment Jane was wiping her greasy gizzard fingers (yes, I did have to Google ‘gizzards’) on her trousers in Barbados, she was not feeling uncomfortable about her size! I genuinely had tears in my eyes when Jane yanked her t shirt off to go topless in the sea; it just felt so liberating for her; a freeing of cumbersome thoughts. I thought that Caroline James captured a wonderful moment beautifully, with both sensitivity and freedom. I hoped Jane might be party to more such freeing moments. Jane kept on mentioning how she wasn’t very sociable and how she didn’t engage well with other people, especially with members of the opposite sex. I felt as though this had become a kind of self perpetuating circle – the more she thought it, the more it became a reality. Could her girlfriends help drag her out of this cycle? Or how about Selwyn? She could do well to think of this passage from this book, describing the pool ‘where bodies of all shapes and sizes were sunning themselves’. Further evidence of Jane’s issues is the fact that she feels that Selwyn is only nice to her because she feels so sorry for herself…….such a lack of confidence …….so sad………has someone in the past caused her to behave in this way? If I could bestow one power on Jane, it would be for her to understand what those little butterflies she keeps feeling mean, every time she sees Selwyn! Everyone else sees it, so it’s about time she did! Will Selwyn see fit to share his secret with her?
I loved the description of the sights and sounds of the Caribbean and at times I could almost smell the food. I perhaps over romanticised with the gizzards though – I love the word and I love saying it out loud (cue to alert bonkers police!) – but suspect my affection for the word may not be reflected in the taste……..unless gizzards are one of those dishes that you simply must try, as you will invariably be pleasantly surprised!
Dicky plummeted (indeed, it was just about possible) in my estimation, when we discover him using his colleague’s makeup without asking her! She would undoubtedly be horrified! In fact he seemed to have a predisposition for taking and using other peoples things, without asking them. He clearly saw the cruise as some kind of hunting ground, with rich, single women his pray. What I couldn’t quite comprehend was the fact that this clearly wasn’t Dicky’s first ‘predator rodeo’, and he didn’t seem particularly subtle, so just how did he get away with it? I could only imagine that it was some kind of creepy charismatic effect going on! I did hope that Dicky wasn’t going to try and get his lecherous claws into Anne – unless they were going to mutually use each other. I think Anne saw Dickie as a prime Husband hunting target, although I don’t think somehow that Dickie was attuned to that same ambition! Could it be that they both thought the other might be a wealthy catch? Oops? The could both end up sorely disappointed! As the book progressed it seemed that Dickie showed more and more of his true colours, and they weren’t pretty. As for slyly charging drinks to Anne’s account…….what a cad!
I do enjoy fun and humour in my reading and there were countless moments in this book, although I would count Dicky’s quiz night as my favourite, riotous juncture! I also laughed (please forgive me) at the truth behind the burial of ‘Flo’s remains’,
All three of our heroines have things on their minds during the cruise – secrets from even their closest friends:
Jane has her body issues, but I feel that nobody is too old to get over those kinds of issues. She clearly has a problem – stashing a pastry into her pocket ‘for later’; I mean, who ever goes hungry on a cruise ship, with their 24/7 food availability? She needs stop worrying about what everyone else thinks all the time and do the best for herself – and if she’s carrying a few extra pounds, either do something about it, or embrace herself and learn to love those curves. It certainly starts to seem as though she can do the latter, at last, as she enjoys swimming in the pool and talks about continuing the exercise when she gets home. The helicopter ride however, provided the greatest revelation!
Anne has been left broke by a philandering Husband, but getting naked with a serial philanderer like Dicky really isn’t likely to help! Ironically Jane thinks that Dicky reminds her of said philanderous ex, Barry; this surely doesn’t augur well! Is it fair to criticise Dicky for being on the lookout for a rich woman, when Anne is on a reciprocal hunt for a fella? If he is looking for money, Dicky is most certainly putting his eggs in the wrong basket!
Kath can’t get her late Husband Jim and how horrified he would have been at her going on a cruise (instead of a trip to trusty old Bournemouth), out of her mind. It was the first Christmas since knowing Jim, that she hadn’t hosted the whole family (fairly extended at that). Somebody please give this Woman a break!At least on this trip Kath seems to be allowing herself to grieve in her own way, as opposed to worrying about what Jim might say or think. Some might say it’s a bit late to be standing up to her late a husband; others might find it cathartic. He sounded completely controlling and mean and I felt that Kath would have a better life without him! As for her Sons – I was astounded that they had challenged Kath’s inheritance from Jim, especially when their parents had given them money towards their houses! Greedy b*****s – I wouldn’t give them a penny! More serious was the fact that Kath no longer had to do battle with Jim’s fists when he was angry! This was undoubtedly Kath’s biggest secret – but maybe not,,,,,,and what will Dicky do when he thinks he has discovered her secret?
The Christmas Day events at the beach were unexpected to say the least, but in that situation, I’d be glad to have my very own Selwyn by my side. As for the Christmas jumper competition – let’s just say that I struggled to picture some of the outfits (AKA Bridgette). Give Dicky his due however – regardless of how ridiculous his outfit, he does tend to ‘sod it’ and just ‘own’ whatever ridiculous costume he has been given.
You can no doubt tell how much I enjoyed this book, but I was genuinely surprised at its hidden depths; what might initially seem like frivolous problems, turn out to be anything but! However, can our Heroines enjoy their cruise, and can they build upon anything they learn or experience once they get home? They initially joked about Husband hunting on a cruise, but will any of the three find love? Do they really want to? Do they learn anything about themselves or the friends they make on the cruise?
I suggest you pick up a copy of this fun, heartwarming book for yourself, and if you enjoy it half as much as I did, then it will be well worth it.
Georgia Banks knows she’s living on borrowed time. So, when doctors tell her she’s got one last summer to make all her dreams come true, she’s determined to make every day count.
The one thing that’s never in doubt, is that she wants her best friend, Gabe, to be with her every step of the way. And so, Georgia draws up her not-a-bucket list with all the things she’s determined to tick off before she goes – number one of which is to spend one last summer by the sea.
Seabreeze Farm perched high on the cliffs above the English Channel is the perfect spot, and surrounded by the antics of its menagerie of rescued animals and the warmth of the friendship she’s offered there, Georgia starts to believe she can live out all her dreams before it’s too late.
And just when she thinks there’s nothing left to wish for, Georgia gets another chance at life. But taking it might mean losing the one person she cares about the most.
As she faces her biggest challenge yet, Georgia wonders if her last summer at Seabreeze Farm will mean the end of her biggest dream of all.
What a dual edged opportunity – the treat of revisiting Seabreeze Farm, versus the sadness of Georgia’s story. Georgia had a wonderful personality and I admired her self-deprecation and ability to laugh at her own misfortune. It did make me laugh that revision for her GCSE History exam seemed to have involved reading romantic period novels!
I loved the characters in this book, but I didn’t love the situation that Georgia found herself in; it was heartbreaking. I was just relieved that she was surrounded by friends and family who cared and who seemed to want to make a difference – even with little things, like baking cakes in the farm cafe, that Georgia could eat.
I tend to subscribe to the philosophy that there is always someone worse off than yourself, and Georgia seemed the same, even though her life seemed to have hit rock bottom.
Jo Bartlett certainly has a gift, in that she can turn a potentially devastating story into the most uplifting book, full of wonderful, caring characters and the most heartwarming storyline. With this book, she is an advocate for love and hope and brings together a fantastic group of people that seem to thrive on helping others.
If you want to read one beautiful, inspiring book, eliciting 360 degrees of emotions (sadness, despair, happiness, joy, with accompanying snot and tears) this year, then this is THE book for you.
An irresistible story of love, friendship and the power of Games Night, perfect for fans of Holly Martin and Christie Barlow.
When Emily loses her job, house and boyfriend all within a matter of days, she’s determined to turn a negative into a positive and follow her dream of running a small cafe in the gorgeous Yorkshire village of Essendale.
But she quickly finds she’s bitten off more than she can chew when the ‘popular’ cafe she takes over turns out to secretly be a failing business. Emily desperately needs a way to turn things around, and help comes from the unlikeliest of places when she meets local board game-obsessed GP Ludek. But when a major chain coffee shop opens on the high street, Emily is forced to question if she’ll ever be able to compete.
Has she risked everything on something destined to fail? Or can a playful twist, a homely welcome, and a sprinkle of love make Emily’s cafe the destination she’s always dreamed of?
I felt overwhelmed with enthusiasm at the thought of being given the opportunity to review a new book by a new (to me) author and Emily, or heroine, did not disappoint. She was pretty wonderful, despite all she had been through. As for her former fiancé, James, words fail me as to how genuinely awful he was – I couldn’t initially find any redeeming features in either him or his Mother, but who knows what the future might bring!
Ludek and Mr B were equally delightful, as were the many friends that Emily seemed to meet along her journey. Who would have thought that such an eclectic mix of characters could come together in such a special way. Emily seemed to have a gift for bringing people together, although she was clearly still plagued by the accidental death of her Mother. I also felt educated in the hobby/sport of board gaming – who would have imagined that so many different games existed. (I confess to googling Agricola!)
Welcome back to The Starfish Cafe for a glorious summer, but with a few dark clouds on the horizon…
A new beginning…As her summer wedding to Jake approaches, Hollie is excited for their new beginning as a family. But when some unexpected news threatens the future she and Jake had hoped for, Hollie will need to find the strength to overcome heartache once more.
A fragile heart….Single mum, Kerry, loves her job at The Starfish Cafe, but behind the brave smiles and laughter with customers there is a sadness deep within. So when someone from her past re-appears in her life, Kerry can either hide away or face her demons and try to finally move on from her heartbreak.
A summer to remember…For Hollie and Kerry it promises to be an emotional rollercoaster of a summer, but the community at the Starfish Café will always be there to help them through – after all, with courage nothing is impossible…
Join top 10 bestseller Jessica Redland for a wonderful summer at the seaside, full of love, friendship and community spirit.
It was with mixed feelings that I started to read Jessica Redland’s Summer Nights at the Starfish Cafe; excitement at the thought of revisiting the Starfish Cafe and it’s wonderful, eclectic characters, dampened slightly by the fact that this is the last book in the series. Still, all good things have to come to an end, and I would rather Hollie and Co bowed out on a high! My heart did sink a little though, when Hollie was telling her friend Charlee how nothing had gone wrong with the wedding plans thus far. I thoroughly enjoyed the descriptions of the wedding – Jessica Redland’s writing brought it all to life for me, as though it were a real event; it felt to me as though as much thought and planning had gone into these nuptials, as would be invested in an actual wedding. Thank you x
I must admit, however, to looking forward to Hollie and Jake’s wedding, and hoped it would go without hitches. I must confess to so looking forward to catching up with some of the characters from previous books, and my pleasure was palpable upon encountering Charlee and her chocolate shop again! My heart certainly sank however when Jake’s ‘Sister’ Larissa turned up, and I hoped with all my heart, that she wasn’t in the bay to cause trouble. Could things ever be ok between the siblings? It was certainly more than sibling rivalry – more mental health issues on Larissa’s part.
I found Kelly to be both likeable and realistic in equal measures. As for Cameron – one couldn’t help, but feel for him, after all he had been through with his parents. It was however a bit of a mystery as to why he had cut all contact with Hollie and the Children. I guessed that more information would be revealed as the book progressed, as after all, the little contact that I had experienced of Cameron thus far, certainly hadn’t portrayed him as a cad, but as more of a sensitive soul. Was it true though, that he was incapable of reciprocating a partner’s love? I most certainly didn’t envy Kelly the task of trying to explain to her Children, why their Father wasn’t interested in them. It was strange in my mind, for Cameron to want nothing to do with his Children and then to suddenly show an interest in them, out of the blue. If I were Kelly, I would need to summon up my most grown up persona in order to not tell the errant Cameron exactly what I thought of him! I was shocked. I really couldn’t get my head around Cameron’s new sense of entitlement with regard to his and Kelly’s Children, when he had dumped them unceremoniously and without warning; indeed he had never even met the twins, yet thought nothing of demanding they stay with him overnight!
I found Artie a great character in the previous Starfish Cafe books, and I genuinely liked the idea of a relationship between him and Kelly. He seemed like the very kind of gentle, genuine fella that would be perfect for Kelly, and I found myself earnestly hoping that no obstacles would befall them!
Of course there was more than meets the eyes to Cameron’s story. I really don’t want to spoil this for my fellow readers, but what was obvious was that Jessica dealt with the situation with a great deal of empathy from all angles, taking into account the feelings of Cameron, Tess and Kelly, but most importantly looking at the situation from the point of view of Kelly’s children. I know from personal experience, what a ‘knot of vipers’ this kind of situation can become, with the thoughts and feelings of the Children being of utmost importance. Indeed, were Cameron to behave like an arse towards his Children again, they would be better off having never met him. Again, from personal experience, I am acutely aware of the need of a certain amount of transparency, when it comes explaining things to young children. In years to come, it’s important that everyone involved understands the same version of events. It felt to me as though Jessica Redland was acutely aware of this requirement, when dealing with estranged parents, after all it doesn’t auger well when different parties have different memories of what they think is the truth in their minds. I am of course being sympathetic (perhaps overly so) towards Larissa and considering that perhaps mental illness makes her think of events differently, and feel in her heart that she is right, despite what we know to be true.
I know that I should feel impartial towards matters concerning Cameron and Kelly, but I confess to my petty side wanting to whoop out loud and swing from the chandeliers (were I to have chandeliers), when their Children showed such marvellous indifference at the suggestion of meeting Cameron after such a long absence, and for the first time ever, in the case of the Twins! Ultimately though, I admired the Children’s behaviour towards Cameron – they showed far more courage than I ever did when it came to meeting my Father after a similar situation. I was so sorry that as a reader I got a reminder of how dangerous the ocean can be – but as ever the episode was very well written and my heart was in my mouth, regardless of the fact that this was a work of fiction; the writing was so realistic. I simply had to admire Kelly’s reaction to the incident though!
In all I loved this book, that oozed with family and friendship and thought it presented a fitting end to a wonderful series of books. It felt as though everyone’s story was completed satisfactorily, with no unnecessary loose ends – what a finish – babies, weddings, new relationships, both romantic and family and repairing mental health. Some might say that the ending of Jake and Larissa’s story was a let down, but personally I found it to be a more realistic ending; not everything can be sunshine and roses! Anyway, if you have a few hours to spare, I recommend reading this great book, or even starting the series, if you have read none of its siblings. I should stress though that each book can be enjoyed by itself or as part of the series.
I do enjoy a cat cafe, and I did think that the new unit opposite Charlee’s chocolate shop, could be worthy of its own series, as such.
Sometimes life is full of surprises, especially when you least expect them…
Born into the Scottish Clan MacBain and the 17th century ancestral home, Drumblair Castle, Liv MacBain has always dreamed of leaving the ancient homestead and becoming her own person in the world of fashion.
From a young age, she worshipped the trailblazing designs of the haute couture glitterati, hoping one day to join them. With older brother Kerr, the rightful heir, Liv has been free to spread her wings.
Fast forward. Liv, is now 28 years old, working at a high-end fashion house and living her dream life in New York. She’s never been happier. Until everything changes with one devastating phone call from her brother, Kerr, that brings her rushing back to Scotland.
Old friends and adversaries resurface and Liv faces a difficult decision that could mean her dream future can no longer be a reality. Or can you have your castle and your career?
It was with multi faceted excitement that I sat down to read and review this book, since I have thoroughly enjoyed the previous books that I have read by Lisa Hobman, and the name ‘Boldwood Books’ increasingly attracts me and makes me want to sit without distraction and read the latest offering from one of their band of talented authors. I am so pleased that they are
Olivia, our heroine, is a thoroughly likeable character, in stark contrast to her needy, obnoxious Brother, Kerr – who I found as unpleasant, money grabbing and duplicitous as Olivia was lovely. In fact I was struggling to conjure up enough negative pronouns with which to describe him!
Mirren, the family castle’s housekeeper’s comments about Olivia’s Mother’s thoughts, were quite telling – ‘she knew this wasn’t where you needed to be. Not back then, anyway.’ The implication wasn’t lost on me – that the fate of the family castle would be in Olivia’s hands.
Brodie seemed a veritable charmer and the chemistry between him and Olivia was obvious to everyone, apart from the pair themselves! Uncharitably, I found myself hoping that Brodie was separated from his Wife! It was a testament to Lisa Hobman’s writing, that the chemistry between the pair was so vociferous in its written form, since often such chemistry is only apparent in a more visual form, such as in a movie. I hoped that Olivia could forgive Brodie his immature indiscretions, and that Brodie would ‘come clean’ about what was really going on with his wife! Why, for example is he so frequently sporting such dirty great ‘shiners’ on his face? As for Owain – is he hiding something? – and Kerr – he he really changed, or is he up to no good?
Lisa Hobman was both eloquent and empathetic in the way she raised and dealt with difficult issues and I thought that anyone who had suffered like Brodie, might find comfort in her words.
In all this was a thoroughly enjoyable read, which I did not want to put down.
A family reunited after a twenty-year estrangement, will discover secrets that change their lives
Gabriella Jacques, is happy to be back in her childhood home, Villa Espoir in the South of France ready to embrace fresh experiences with friends new and old and to heal some deep family scars. Recently widowed Harriet Rogers, hopes to rebuild her family life and reconnect with Elodie, the daughter she abandoned into her mother Gabby’s care to follow her heart. But when an acquaintance from the past seeks her out, Harriet fears a secret from her past will ruin her plans.
Elodie Jacques, adores her new life in her Grandmothers old home as a freelance journalist. Her relationship with her mother is tense as she struggles to understand why her mother won’t talk to her about the past, as until their past is resolved, there can be no future.Will these three women, all living under the same roof after two decades adrift be able to put aside the past and find harmony in the present together?
I was delighted to be given the opportunity to review this book; both to continue Gabriella and Elodie’s story, and because I never fail to enjoy Jennifer Bohnet’s writing.
Having enjoyed the first instalment of Elodie and Gabrielle’s journey, I found myself heavily invested in their move to France being a success, but felt wary of Harriet, hoping that she would not throw a spanner into the ‘Happy Family’ idyll. After all, she didn’t have a great track record when it came to reliability and family affairs. I could understand both Gabriella, in wanting to embrace Harriet back into the family haven, yet could equally empathise with Elodie, who was desperate not to be let down by her Mother again! It was sad to be honest, when as a reader, you realised the insecurities behind Harriet’s behaviour – she did really want to play ‘Happy Families’ with her ‘new’ nearest and dearest.
Elodie seems hellbent on getting answers as to why Harriet left her in the Uk so many years ago, and Harriet seemed equally determined not to share more information than she was happy with. Surely something would have to give at some point. I just hoped that Gabriella wouldn’t fall victim to the stubbornness of the two most important women in her life.
I enjoyed watching how the three strong women integrated into life in France. Gabby and Elodie seemed respectively smitten with Philippe and Gazz (his name always made me chuckle, in that it sounded so non French), but was there someone out there for Harriet? Perhaps a handsome gallery owner who might restore her faith in the opposite sex?
All three women seem to be juggling settling in a new country as part of a ‘new’ family dynamic, with echos of the past. Would they each be able to embrace those echos? I certainly loved the way that Gabby’s life seemed to have almost turned a full circle, with regard to Le Provencal, which had clearly been very special to her in her ‘glory years’.
Now she is over 70 years old, is Gabby starting to wind down a little, or will she seize life by its horns and embark on a whole new, precious period of her life?
I know that I enjoyed this story of family and its history immensely. The phrase ‘joi de vivre’ came to mind. I revelled in Gabby’s joi de vivre and this book helped awaken my very own joi de vivre, so much so, that I didn’t want the book to end. Life is for living to the limits of your capabilities and the story of how these three strong women came to be living together as a family, as opposed to merely cohabiting, thoroughly captivated my imagination. I did feel as though there may be more of the Jacques family tale to tell and allowed myself to hope that we may be treated to another instalment of their story in the not too distant future.
Oh what a dream. I have always had a penchant for the unusual – coveting houses with turrets and unusual shaped windows, strange looking attic windows, and on a more feral level, the ugliest, mankiest looking pet hamster or rabbit so I understood on so many levels, the appeal of owning and living in a lighthouse. Oh to have the inconvenience of having to order curved kitchen units, or a non-straight bed? Oh how I understood where Meredith was coming from!
I loved that despite the frosty nature of her Mother, Meredith had been brought up by a wonderful grandmother, to whom she had been very close; it ultimately seemed so appropriate that an inheritance from her beloved grandmother had provided Meredith with the means to buy such a dream of a property, in the lighthouse. I had to laugh when ‘the Mother’ told Meredith how irrational she had been in moving to the lighthouse, whilst inviting herself to stay, in the next breath! I could certainly empathise with being in your 50s and treated like a child at times! I do enjoy a good old belly laugh though, and ‘knob’-gate, certainly fitted the bill!
It was a mystery to me at first (and to Meredith, I suspect) as to why some of the villagers were so foul towards her – what a horrendous, inhospitable way to treat fellow human beings! Just who had Meredith beaten to buying the lighthouse, to cause so much upset? Were the villagers closed to outsiders anyway, regardless of who had bought the lighthouse?
The friends Meredith did make, more than made up for the haters. James and Lucy, Gemma, Vi and Clem, were all worth their weights in gold, even if the friendships with Clem and Vi were slow starters!
Needless to say, I enjoyed this book from start to finish. It was simply a delight. I loved the main characters, especially Meredith and Clem of course, although I wasn’t so keen on the Meredith haters at first! I honestly felt as though I was on holiday at the Cornish seaside, and lapped up the descriptions of the food and the scenery, and I know that I would love to read more about Meredith’s story.
Living in a bustling farmhouse with her mum, aunt and uncles, cousin and too many dogs to count, surrounded by the breath-taking Cotswolds countryside, she knows she is privileged and protected.
But all families have secrets, and the Travers family are no exception. Their farmhouse sits in the grounds of the Juniper Meadows estate, passed down through the generations and now being made to pay its own way with a myriad of businesses and projects. When a construction crew uncover what appear to be historical ruins, the history of the Travers family is put under ever closer scrutiny as a dig gets underway.
Hope may have found a blossoming romance with local archaeologist Cameron Ferguson who is running the dig, but when things start to go wrong around the estate and family secrets begin to be revealed, Hope wonders if she’s made a big mistake in digging up the past.
I have previously ALWAYS enjoyed Sarah Bennett’s books and so I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to review this new book; it really piqued my interest, wondering whether it was a one-off book, or the start of a new series. I genuinely love Sarah Bennett’s use of language and vocabulary – it always feels as though I have learned something, when I actually have to look a word up – for example ‘hellion’pups and ‘ear worms’; her storylines and characters are always the most perfect amalgam. In my mind, reading one of Sarah’s new books should be approached in the same manner as eating your favourite chocolate bar. It should be savoured and devoured slowly, in order to make it last as long as possible, allowing you to fully appreciate all it has to offer, as opposed to greedily consuming it all in one go – and then it’s gone in the blink of an eye and you will feel sad, despite the initial sugar rush, that it has all gone so quickly!
I was immediately struck by the sense of family in the Travers household and loved the idea of different generations of the same family living and working together, looking out for one another. Hope’s relationship with her Uncles and Cousin seemed exceptionally close. I had immense respect of their love of animals and the way they treated their ‘pack’ and I was somewhat in awe of the way that whilst the members of the family had undoubtedly been born into privilege, as adults they had all become part of running the strands of business of the estate, in their own way. The whole family were wonderful, but Rowena really shone out for me; the way she behaved with lacking in confidence Scott was totally heartwarming. As for the way the family helped Amelia – I struggle to find the right words…..The start of dig barbecue seemed a fantastic summer affair and it’s description was such that if I closed my eyes I could almost imagine I were there – and on a cold March evening, I find myself hard pushed to imagine somewhere I’d rather be! I like humour in my books and I must confess to laughing out loud at the thought of Rowena snorting, and its ‘indelicate’ adjective – the perfect description! I also had a major league giggle at the provenance of Barnie’s given forename!
I warmed to Hope fairly instantly, such was her endearing character, and I was equally charmed by Cam’s social awkwardness, especially around the beautiful Hope.
I so wanted the hints of romance between Hope and Cam, to blossom into something serious; whilst from different backgrounds, they seemed the perfect fit for each other, manifested by the way Hope’s hand was the perfect fit for that of Cam.
With a family as historic as Hope’s there was bound to be plenty of family history, but the truth about the more recent history of the family eluded Hope, in particular the truth about her Father, which her Mother was not at all keen to impart. I couldn’t help but wonder why? What could be so bad that the facts needed to be kept from Hope?
Cam is a kind soul, an example being how he treated Scott, a student of his who had previously cheated. Cam and Barnie seemed to have a really solid friendship, that had started when they were students, and they seemed to work so well together, complementing each others skills. Their relationship did seemed to perfectly held together with just the right amount of banter, having had its foundations built upon from when they first met. They came from different backgrounds, but learned that they both had attributes to bring to the table that was their friendship; and whilst not every attribute had a monetary value, every building block had been a priceless contribution to their solidarity. I enjoyed Cam’s relationship with the lovely Cassie and I admired the fact that Sarah Bennett didn’t adhere to the most obvious storyline with her.
This story evoked a whole range of emotions in me, and it felt as though even the darker moments were just described with such empathy. At times I felt pretty emotional, and had to remind myself that this was ‘just’ a story; it was more than that – a lesson to us all that you don’t need to be cut from the same cloth, in order to be the perfect match in life.
I mentioned savouring this book slowly – and I really didn’t want it to finish. Two gorgeous professional people at the stage in their lives when they know what they want, in an unsurpassable location; two people that almost seem to belong together – what could possibly go wrong?!
Please join me and read this wonderful new book for yourself; and the only thing I am giving away, is that this is the start of a new series, and I can’t wait for the next instalment!