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The Winter Cottage By Rachael Lucas

The Winter Cottage‘The Winter Cottage’ is the first book in the ‘Applemore Bay’ series by Rachael Lucas.

When Rilla Clark’s long lost father dies, she leaves New England and heads to his cottage in the Scottish Highlands to sort out his affairs. Rilla’s determined that her visit will be a fleeting one. The little village of Applemore holds a lot of memories for her, but looking back might just open up her heart, which she’s kept well-guarded until now. Lachlan Fraser is less than delighted with his inheritance. He left the grand, crumbling Applemore House as soon as he could, and he can’t see why his three sisters love it so much. Gathered together at their family estate, the battle of wills over what to do with the house is just beginning when into their life walks Rilla, who they haven’t seen for over fifteen years. Old friendships and long-hidden emotions are rekindled as the romance of a Highland winter works its magic – will Rilla and Lachlan discover that home isn’t a place, but a feeling?

At only 256 pages, the first book in a new series by Rachael Lucas can easily be consumed in one sitting with plenty of tea for company.

Seen through the narrative of Rilla and Lachlan who have both returned to the village of Applemore to sort out their houses after their fathers have passed away.

Lachlan is heir to a huge, old castle that’s in dire need of work and a huge tax bill hangs over the family. Whilst Rilla’s family home is located on the Lachlan’s family home and is a much more humble affair.

Rilla was friends was Lachlan and his 3 sisters as a child but was taken away when an incident occurred. She thinks that coming to the town many years after leaving she won’t be remembered but she’s wrong and finds herself with her childhood friends as well as her crush on Lachlan returning, completely unaware the Lachlan’s feeling are the same.

Whilst they’re clearing out the houses and trying to think of ways to find funds to fix the castle, Lachlan and Rilla have plenty of projects to work on together and their bond begins to strengthen. And it’s so lovely to read the interactions between the two of them as they are blissfully unaware of each other’s feelings and both deal with grief in different ways.

This was the first book that I read by Rachael Lucas and it was an absolute joy from start to finish. Filled with warm and charming characters, a close knit and picturesque village with an adorably hyper dog, ‘The Winter Cottage’ has all the makings of the perfect romance novel, love, hope and new beginnings.

You can pre-order ‘The Winter Cottage’ from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 25th October 2021.

The Beloved Girls By Harriet Evans

The Beloved Girls‘The Beloved Girls’ is the latest book by Harriet Evans.

Catherine, a successful barrister, vanishes from a train station on the eve of her anniversary. Is it because she saw a figure – someone she believed long dead? Or was it a shadow cast by her troubled, fractured mind? The answer lies buried in the past. It lies in the events of the hot, seismic summer of 1989, at Vanes – a mysterious West Country manor house – where a young girl, Jane Lestrange, arrives to stay with the gilded, grand Hunter family, and where a devastating tragedy will unfold. Over the summer, as an ancient family ritual looms closer, Janey falls for each member of the family in turn. She and Kitty, the eldest daughter of the house, will forge a bond that decades later, is still shaping the present.

When it comes to twisted stories about family secrets and betrayals, Harriet is up there with delivering some of the best.

Her latest book, is a rollercoaster of drama set over many decades after a terrible tragedy occurs leaving a small town in shock. And many years later Catherine, one of the people left behind suddenly disappears when old memories start to resurface.

When Harriet writes a book, she really writes a book! At 448 pages, it’s long but it’s engaging with regular twists and shocks that keeps the reader pulled in.

The characters are a fascinating mix, as we meet Catherine, a successful barrister, who’s lost a big case she feels an immense pressure on herself but is distracted by the upcoming anniversary of the tragedy.

The story is written in the past and present tense through the perspectives of Catherine, Janey and Simon. Catherine is the present whilst Janey and Simon are from the past. The past moments make for fascinating reading as Janey is introduced to a strange family with an obsession with rituals and bees which all makes for sinister but completely compelling reading. Simon’s narrative is from, during the 1950’s as he tries to overcome the horrors that he witnessed at the end of the WW2.

This story instantly pulled me in, from the ritualistic wordings that had such creepy undertones to them to the Hunter family, all flawed, fascinating and Janey was drawn to all of them.

Harriet has written an intoxicating story that is cleverly crafted with deceit, love and drama weaved through each page. A book that grabbed my attention throughout ‘The Beloved Girls’ is a dark and observational story about female relationships and is such an addictive story, that once you’re in, you’ll never get out!

You can buy ‘The Beloved Girls’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

The Matchmaker By Hélene Fermont

The Matchmaker‘The Matchmaker’ is the latest book by Hélene Fermont.

Marcia Bailey has it all: a passionate marriage to a rich and handsome man who is utterly devoted to her; fame and success as London’s premier matchmaker; a beautiful home in a posh neighbourhood, and fabulous holidays in exotic places. But her perfect life turns into a nightmare overnight when a mysterious caller suddenly threatens to reveal secrets from her past she thought she had left behind forever. Who is he and what does he really want? He says he wants three million pounds to keep quiet, and she’s willing to pay. After all, she has already sacrificed so much, and perfect lives don’t come cheap.
But Marcia has a hunch her caller wants more than money from her. He wants to hurt and humiliate her. But why? As police investigate a brutal murder in a wealthy London neighborhood, they untangle a web of lies, violence, sex and jealousy surrounding Marcia Bailey and the group of wealthy and powerful men who have secrets of their own to keep.

It’s not often that I read a book that I struggle to get into but sadly this was the case with ‘The Matchmaker’.

The story is seen through multiple narratives leading up to and after the murder of Marcia Bailey, a famous and successful matchmaker. Marcia had a secret life before her success and someone is threatening to expose her and just as she thinks she’s going to be safe, she’s brutally murdered and there are a number of suspected people in the firing line.

There are a few things that I struggled with in this story, but I persevered as I wanted to give a honest review of the book.

The story is seen through multiples perspectives and for me there were too many to keep track off. They all had similar traits, personalities and names and I found myself flicking back and forth in the pages to remind myself who was who. None of the characters were likeable and I got to a point where I didn’t really know what was happening to who. At times, the dialogue felt stilted and I just felt it didn’t flow as fluidly as other thrillers.

‘The Matchmaker’ has the potential to be a great thriller and there were some genuine moments that I enjoyed, but it wasn’t quite the thriller that I was hoping for.

You can buy ‘The Matchmaker’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Summer In The City By Fiona Collins

Summer In The City‘Summer In The City’ is the latest book by Fiona Collins.

Prue is not someone you would notice willingly. She likes to keep herself to herself and fade into the background. If it were not for the birthmark on her left cheek, she might actually succeed at becoming invisible. She spends all of her time with her blind father, Vince. Together, they sit in silence and ignore the vibrant city just on their doorstep. Life is as good as what’s on TV. That is, until something forces them both to go outside and see what they have been missing. For Vince, that means discovering how to see the world without his sight. For Prue, that means finding the courage to finally love and be loved in return.

For an uplifting story about new beginnings, I’d wholeheartedly recommend this book.

The story is seen through the narrative Prudence who lives with her father. Both people are reclusive characters, her father is blind whilst Prudence has a large birthmark on her face that she’s so self conscious of. The birthmark has really effected her self esteem and results in her not able to hold down a job or make new friends. Prudence and her father spend their days inside the house, until one day her father gives her a list of places that he’d like to visit in London. Now, both Prudence and her father have to step outside their comfort and embrace new adventures and friendships.

This is such a lovely warm-hearted story that made for joyous reading. Prudence is quite an introverted character who’s made hurt a lot in the past, not only by family but also in relationships, because of this she keeps to herself. She’s her father’s carer and spends her day inside the house whilst he listens to audio books and cooks delicious meals.

The interaction between the pair of them is lovely, as the fair of them face their fears and step outside. Prudence’s father hasn’t always been blind and as they rediscover the famous sights of the city and it’s touching as Prudence describes the scenes and her father reminiscences on his own memories. Her father was an architect and it’s fascinating to hear the history behind some of London’s most famous buildings.

It’s lovely to read the interaction between the pair of them and see them both grow in confidence as the story progresses and they begin to meet new people.

This is a beautifully written story and really captures the magic of London and new friendships. Descriptions are so vividly written and Prudence’s narrative is so descriptive that I literally felt like I was seeing London through new eyes. I loved Prudence, she’s shy but also straightforward which makes her a witty character. I loved joining her on a journey of self discovery and finally finding her place in life.

‘Summer In The City’ is a stunning story of new beginnings, and getting back out there. A feel good and poignant book that sweeps you away on holiday without leaving the house.

You can buy ‘Summer In The City’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Rebuilding Alexandra Small By Mo Fanning

Rebuilding Alexandra Small‘Rebuilding Alexandra Small’ is the latest book by Mo Fanning.

Six years sober, Alexandra Small has it all… and then one day, she very publicly doesn’t. When her perfect world crumbles, a face appears from Allie’s drunken past, hell bent on revenge. Can she rebuild her life before a stranger destroys it forever? And should she spend three weeks in an overheated shed having colonic irrigation with daytime TV’s Megan Macmillan? In this laugh out loud treat of a novel, Mo Fanning tackles the difficulties and misadventures of work, love, and being seen for who you really are.

Can I just say, that I loved this book!

I started reading it late on a Sunday evening which was a big mistake and spent most of Monday looking longingly at when I couldn’t read it.

The story is seen through the narrative of recovering alcoholic Allie, who’s life has fallen apart when her marriage to a famous footballer ends, she’s loses her job and someone is selling stories about to her the press.

All these things happen to Allie in a short time and not once does she give up. She keeps strong and is determined to reinvent herself and start a new career owning the childhood cafe that her and her best friend Izzy went to. She hires a handsome Polish solicitor called Tomas to sort out her divorce and like her, I found myself falling for the sweet character who’s like Allie in many ways.

I loved the characters in this book, they were vibrant, bitchy and strong females all out for justice and independence. Another character who was great was Megan, who was the face of daytime telly and is determined that Allie works with her to get both their careers back on track with her own failed marriage. She’s outspoken and ballsy and made for hilarious reading in parts.

The story is also written in the past tense in some parts, as Allie reflects on how she became an alcoholic and reliant on drink. This makes for sad reading at times, as her childhood was far from perfect with her own father battling depression.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, but I did have one small gripe. There was one character who was particularly vile to Allie and I would have loved to have seen more of her getting her comeuppance. Apart from that issue, this book was a fantastically uplifting read.

‘Rebuilding Alexandra Small’ is a fun and witty story about new beginnings, love and facing new challenges that is genuinely lovely reading.

You can buy ‘Rebuilding Alexandra Small’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.