Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Book Review: Return to Bluebell Hill by Rebecca Pugh



Title: Return to Bluebell Hill
Author: Rebecca Pugh
Publisher: Carina UK
Publication Date: 18 June 2015

Twitter: @BeccasBooks

Blog/website: http://beccasbooooks.blogspot.co.uk/

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Blurb 

As sweet and satisfying as strawberries and cream! This British summertime, get out in the garden with Rebecca Pugh's sparkling debut novel.

Home is where the heart is...

Jessica McAdams has never belonged anywhere; never truly felt at home. Of course, what did she expect from parents who never made her feel welcome in her own house? Leaving her life in London to return home to the charming country village of Bluebell Hill is harder than she thought. Espectially as she never considered she'd be returning under such heart wrenching circumstances...

Clearing out the stunning and imposing Bluebell House after her parents' death is difficult for Jessica - they never had the best relationship and now it's too late. Yet spending time in the house that was never a home, having afternoon tea with dear old friend Esme - and sharing hot, sizzling kisses with delectable gardener Rueben! - opens Jessica's eyes to the potential of Bluebell House... Could this big old, beautiful manor really be her forever home? Is Bluebell Hill where her heart is, has always been?

Jessica soon dares to dream of her very own home with delicious Reuben by her side. But when a deep dark secret of Bluebell House is unearthed, Jessica's world is turned upside down...

Will Jessica ever find where her heart truly lies?

An emotional tale of self-discovery, taking changes and romance! Rebecca's unique British voice feels like coming home again and again.

Review

Thank you to NetGalley and Carina UK for providing me with a copy of Return to Bluebell Hill in return for an honest review.
 
Return to Bluebell Hill is the debut novel from Rebecca Pugh and it is a lovely story, telling the tale of Jessica McAdams's return to her childhood home and facing her past.

Jessica is a pleasant and sympathetic character, although a dollop of stubborness can cause her to be somewhat frustrating at times. Fortunately, her best-friend Sarah is always on the end of the phone, along with the motherly Esme, to talk some sense into Jessica when required. Love-interest Reuben is the modern-day equivalent of a fairytale prince - he adores Jessica, he is attentive and helpful, he can cook, he's hardworking and, of course, he's a bit of a hunk. It's not surprising that Jessica develops a bit of a crush on this specimen of male perfection!

I am aware that the author is young, and I think this showed in the story. Return to Bluebell Hill has the feel of a disney-inspired fairytale of love and romance without any of the usual cynicism or drama that I expect from most chick lit/romcom style novels. There was a small dollop of angst when Jessica decides to leave Bluebell Hill and it's inhabitants behind, returning to her old life in the city, and also when she travels to France to meet her mother's sister, however both issues were dealt with in a very 'nice' fashion, without much drama or conflict.  This may be reflective of the author's age or possibly she just has a much sweeter outlook on life than a lot of us. Either way, Return to Bluebell hill is a very sweet story.

I did enjoy the author's style of writing. She has a delicate and descriptive touch which made me easily able to form an image of the characters and the gorgeous setting of Bluebell House. The story is set almost entirely within Bluebell House or Esme's cottage and we form the impression that Bluebell Hill is an idyllic village setting and an oasis from the hustle and bustle of city life. The story flows well, without any lulls in the storyline, and makes an easy-reading book for the reader. I did find that there were some moments where the descriptions slightly overtook the story, however I only really noticed this a couple of times and, in the end, all description helps to build a picture in the reader's mind.

The most interesting part of the story for me, rather that the romance-element, was the story behind Jessica's departure from Bluebell Hill and the mystery surrounding her parents. It was this first half that really caught my attention and made me curious as to the reason behind the poor relationship between Jessica and the McAdams. I would have liked this element of the book to be explored further, as I found it to be intriguing. We are told that Jessica and her parents did not have a good relationship and that is the reason for Jessica's reluctance to return to Bluebell Hill, however the story does not really delve any deeper than that. I can see that she felt ignored for the majority of her childhood by her busy career-driven parents, however I would have liked to know more about whether there was a particular event which acted as a catalyst to not only Jessica leaving Bluebell Hill but also her seemingly complete lack of contact with her parents following that departure or whether she simply felt unloved by them. 

I also struggled slightly with her visit to her mother's sister. Despite the enormity of what she has just discovered about her parents, Jessica seems very accepting of events and, surprisingly unjudgmental, which does not quite ring true for me particularly given the lonely upbringing she had experienced.

The second half of the book falls into a more predictable path - a lovely cosy romance, foreseeable but heartwarming all the same.

I am happy to say that I did enjoy Return to Bluebell Hill. It was a tale of family, friendship, forgiveness, love and self-discoveru, all told with an underlying sweetness and complete lack of cynicism.

I am happy to admit that I usually prefer romances with a little more 'bite' to them and, for me, Return to Bluebell Hill was maybe a little bit too adorable. I felt that it lacked a little bit of conflict that would have added to the realism of the story. However, as far as fairytale romances go, this is a pretty gorgeous tale. I did enjoy this easy-reading story and found it to be a promising debut from Rebecca Pugh. I look forward to hearing more about the author's second offering.

I should take this opportunity to mention that whilst I have not met Rebecca Pugh in person, I have been in contact with her frequently over the past year through out mutual love of books and blogging. It is difficult to review a book written by someone you know and like, as the temptation is to provide a glowing review. Rebecca is an incredibly lovely person and it has been a pleasure to watch the progress of this novel right through to publication. I have tried my best to give an honest review and I hope that I have managed to achieve this. I also hope that, in my attempt to be remain unbiased, I have not gone too far the other way and been too harsh in my thoughts!

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About the Author

Rebecca Pugh grew up in the green county of Shropshire, with a mind full of fairy-takes and happy endings. Enchanted by true love and Disney Princesses, she decided that no matter what life threw her way, she'd continue to see the world through a child's eyes. Through the pages of countless books, her adoration of reading blossomed, and it didn't take long for her to fall under the spell of hundreds of authors' words.

Now, Rebecca's own story has taken a fairy-tale like turn, and at 22, her dream has come true. With her faithful companions: Bonnie the dog, her partner, and her gigantic family by her side, Rebecca is ready to share her stories with readers who enjoy falling in love and losing themselves within beautiful, fictional worlds.

Rebecca Pugh is the author of women's fiction and romance, her all-time favourite genres. After all, who doesn't enjoy a good swoon?

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