Books reviews, book tours, cover reveals and anything else book-related.

Book Review: Beautiful Bad by Annie Ward

on
Tuesday, 30 April 2019
Beautiful Bad by Annie Ward


Title: Beautiful Bad
Author: Annie Ward
Publisher: Quercus
Publication Date: 5 March 2019

Website: www.annie-ward.com
Twitter: @_Annie_Ward
Instagram: @annienighward
Facebook: @anniewardbooks

Blurb

Things that make me scared: When Charlie cries. Hospitals and lakes. When Ian drinks vodka in the basement. ISIS. When Ian gets angry. ... That something is really, really wrong with me.

Maddie and Ian's romance began with a chance encounter at a party overseas; he was serving in the British Army and she was a travel writer visiting her best friend Jo. Now almost two decades later, married with a beautiful son, Charlie, they are living the perfect suburban life in Middle America. But when a camping accident leaves Maddie badly scarred, she begins attending writing therapy, where she gradually reveals her fears about Ian's PTSD; her concerns for the safety of their young son Charlie; and the couple's tangled and tumultuous past with Jo.

From the Balkans to England, Iraq to Manhattan, and finally to an ordinary family home in Kansas, sixteen years of love and fear, adventure and suspicion culminate in The Day of the Killing, when a frantic 911 call summons the police to the scene of shocking crime.

But what in this beautiful home has gone so terribly bad?

Review


The majority of thrillers are told at breakneck speed, grabbing the reader’s attention and rushing towards the big reveal. By comparison, Beautiful Bad is a thriller that demands patience.

The story begins with a 911 call originating from a upmarket neighbourhood in Meadowlark, Kansas. Upon attending the scene, police officer Diane Varga finds a pool of blood and evidence of a struggle. Who is the victim and who is the perpetrator…?


Skipping back 12 weeks, we are introduced to Maddie Wilson and the story begins, being told through a sequence of chapters that alternate between flashes from the present, letters written as part of writing therapy sessions and flashbacks from key moments in Maddie’s past.  Once a budding travel writer living in the volatile Balkans, Maddie is now a dutiful wife to Ian and mother to Charlie living in small town USA. Ian is a former soldier now working in private security overseas. As the story progresses, the reader is quickly led to wonder what has happened to Maddie that causes her so much fear and anxiety. The story is very well plotted and the three narrative threads, skipping between time periods and narrators, allow the tension to build at a steady pace. The author carefully reveals clues to the reader at specific moments throughout the story, allowing the layers to be gradually peeled back.

It is clear from the start that both Ian and Maddie are unreliable narrators and the story is infused with a darkness from the very first, covering issues such as mental health, PTSD, alcoholism, paranoia and violence. As Maddie’s therapy sessions with the unconventional Cami J progress, Maddie and Ian’s relationship is explored in more depth, both the good and the disturbing. We also learn more about Maddie’s relationship with her former best friend, Joanna. It is a story that will cause the reader to reflect on how past trauma can slowly leak into the present. The author is in no rush and takes her time to show how the past can have such a significant impact on the present. It is sad to see how the exuberance of youth is slowly extinguished by experience, trauma and regret.

On a slightly brighter note, I loved the strong sense of place within the story. The tale takes us from Bulgaria to Macedonia and then on to the USA, during which the author uses descriptive and evocative prose which allows the reader to experience these places referred to within the story. I felt not that I was being told about a location, but rather that I was experiencing that place for myself.

There is nothing more satisfying in any book than a good ending. As part of a publisher’s challenge, I had to email Quercus with my prediction for the ending when I reached page 328. Looking back on my email I think I was pretty close to working out the ending, although there were still a few surprises left for me. Ultimately, the tale culminates in a wonderfully twisty yet satisfying ending.

Beautiful Bad is a tense and tightly plotted domestic thriller that will grab a reader’s interest from the very first page. It is intelligent, thoughtful and chilling. A perfect choice for those who appreciate a suspenseful mystery or a bit of domestic noir.

About the Author


Annie Ward


Annie’s sophomore novel and first psychological thriller BEAUTIFUL BAD will be published by Harper Collins/Park Row books in March, 2019.

Annie received a BA in English Lit with an emphasis in Creative Writing from UCLA and an MFA in Screenwriting from the American Film Institute. While studying at AFI, she sold her first short screenplay to MTV/ BFCS Productions. Starring Adam Scott, STRANGE HABIT became a Grand Jury Award Winner at the Aspen Film Festival and a Sundance Festival Official Selection.

After film school, Annie moved to Eastern Europe to work for Fodor Travel Guides, covering regions of Spain and Bulgaria. She remained in Bulgaria for five years spanning a civilian uprising and government overthrow. The novel THE MAKING OF JUNE, which Annie wrote with the Bulgarian revolution and Balkan crisis as its backdrop was sold to Penguin Putnam and published to critical acclaim in 2002.

During Annie’s five years in the Balkans she received a Fulbright Scholarship, taught at the University of Sofia, and script doctored eight screenplays for Nu-Image, an Israeli/American film company that produced a number of projects in Bulgaria for the SyFy Channel. She was later the recipient of an Escape to Create artist residency.

She lives in Kansas City, Kansas with her family.



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Book Review: Dark Pines by Will Dean (Tuva Moodyson Mystery 1)

on
Thursday, 25 April 2019

Dark Pines by Will Dean

Title: Dark Pines
Author: Will Dean
Publication Date: 7 December 2017 (ebook) 14 June 2018 (paperback)

Twitter: @willrdean

Blurb

For fans of Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects and Peter Høeg’s Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow, a brand new debut crime writer introduces a Scandi-noir Tuva Moodyson Mystery

SEE NO EVIL

Eyes missing, two bodies lie deep in the forest near a remote Swedish town.

HEAR NO EVIL

Tuva Moodyson, a deaf reporter on a small-time local paper, is looking for the story that could make her career.

SPEAK NO EVIL

A web of secrets. And an unsolved murder from twenty years ago.

Can Tuva outwit the killer before she becomes the final victim? She'd like to think so. But first she must face her demons and venture far into the deep, dark woods if she wants to stand any chance of getting the hell out of small-time Gavrik.

Review

Set in a rural Swedish forest, Dark Pines is the creepy debut thriller by British author, Will Dean.

The story follows local reporter, Tuva Moodyson, as she investigates the gruesome discovery of two bodies both found brutally murdered in a way that is reminiscent of the unsolved ‘Medusa’ murders from 20 years earlier. Is this merely a coincidence or do the recent murders hold secrets about those earlier crimes?  Tuva finds herself drawn deeper and deeper into the investigation. With a career-making case landing on her desk, she has to face her demons as she follows the story into the forest. This may finally be her route out of Gavrik.  

The remote Utgard forest proves to be a claustrophobic and disturbing setting for the tale, and the small isolated town of Gavrik provides very little relief from that oppressive and suffocating feeling that surfaces each time Tuva heads back down the icy tracks into the forest.

The author has created a curious and creepy cast of local characters, giving an unnerving feel to the story. In particular, the two elderly woodcutting sisters who hand carve wooden trolls decorated with human hair and nails - it makes me shudder just thinking about it!

The protagonist, Tuva, is a fascinating and engaging character. Deaf, bi-sexual and awkward, she is also loyal, determined and brave.  A townie through and through, Tuva has exiled herself to the Swedish wilderness to be nearer to her dying mother. Tuva's disability is dealt with in a sensitive and realistic way by the author (I have some awareness of deafness through a close family member and I am aware that the author uses a beta-reader with hearing difficulties to ensure that this part of the character is told as authentically as possible). For me, this makes the story all the more convincing.

The story is well-planned and well-written, advancing forward at a good pace. The tension builds quickly and relentlessly as the tale progresses and the twists and turns are revealed, before culminates in a nail-biting and satisfying climax.

For his debut novel, Dean has produced a riveting, tense and atmospheric thriller. Dark Pines is a fantastic book and one of the best crime thrillers I've read for a long time. I would highly recommend, particularly to fans of crime fiction and Nordic/Scandi Noir.

Huge thanks to Margot Weale at Oneworld Publications for providing me with a copy of Dark Pines for review.

About the Author

Will Dean, author
Will Dean grew up in the East Midlands, living in nine different villages before the age of eighteen. After studying law at the LSE, and working many varied jobs in London, he settled in rural Sweden with his wife. He built a wooden house in a boggy forest clearing and it's from this base that he compulsively reads and writes.









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Blog Tour & Book Review: The Golden Hour by Malia Zaidi (A Lady Evelyn Mystery Book 4)

on
Friday, 19 April 2019
The Golden Hour by Malia Zaidi


I am delighted to be hosting today's stop on the blog tour for The Golden Hour, book 4 in the 'Lady Evelyn Mysteries' series by author Malia Zaidi. A big thanks to Emma from damppebbles blog tours for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.


Title: The Golden Hour (A Lady Evelyn Mystery Book 4)
Author: Malia Zaidi
Publisher: Bookbaby
Publication Date: 26 March 2019

Website: https://www.maliazaidi.com/
Blog:  https://www.princessandpen.com/
Twitter: @MaliaZaidi
Facebook: @MaliaZaidiAuthor

Blurb

London 1927

Lady Evelyn Carlisle has barely arrived in London when familial duty calls her away again. Her cousin Gemma is desperate for help with her ailing mother before her imminent wedding, which Evelyn knew nothing about! Aunt Agnes in tow, she journeys to Scotland, expecting to find Malmo Manor in turmoil. To her surprise, her Scottish family has been keeping far more secrets than the troubled state of their matriarch. Adding to the tension in the house a neighbour has opened his home, Elderbrooke Park, as a retreat for artistic veterans of the Great War. This development does not sit well with everyone in the community. Is thesuspicion towards the residents a catalyst for murder? A tragedy at Elderbrooke Park’s May Day celebration awakens Evelyn’s sleuthing instinct, which is strengthened when the story of another unsolved death emerges, connected to her own family. What she uncovers on her quest to expose the truth will change several lives forever, including her own. 


With the shadow of history looming over her, Evelyn must trust in her instinct and ability to comb through the past to understand the present, before themurderer can stop her and tragedy strikes again.

Blog Tour, Guest Post & Book Review: A View to a Kilt by Wendy Holden

on
Tuesday, 16 April 2019
A View to a Kilt by Wendy Holden

Title: A View to a Kilt
Author: Wendy Holden
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Publication Date: 3 April 2019

Website: wendyholden.net
Twitter: @Wendy_Holden
Facebook: @WendyHoldenAuthor

I am absolutely delighted to be today's stop on the blog tour for A View to a Kilt, the hilarious Scottish-themed novel from author Wendy Holden.

Blurb

Forget about Cool Britannia and Gallic Chic. Scotland is having a fashion moment...

London's most glamorous glossy magazine is in trouble. Advertising revenues are non existent, and if editor Laura Lake can't pick them up, she's out of a job.

According to those in the know, Scotland is having a fashion moment. Haggis tempura is on Michelin-starred menus, smart spas are offering porridge facials, and a chain of eco-hotels is offering celebrity bagpipe lessons. So Laura's off to a baronial estate in the Scottish Highlands to get a slice of this ultra-high-end market.


It's supposed to be gorgeous, glitzy and glamorous. But intrigue follows Laura like night follows day. And at Glenravish Castle – a shooting lodge fit for a billionaire – Laura finds herself hunting for a scoop that won't just save her job, it could save her life...

Blog Tour & Book Review: The Island by Ragnar Jonasson (Hidden Iceland, Book 2)

on
Tuesday, 9 April 2019
The Island by Ragnar Jonasson


Title: The Island (Hidden Iceland Series Book 2)
Author: Ragnar Jonasson
Publication Date:  4 April 2019 (hardcover)

Other Books in the Series: The Darkness (Book 1)
Genre: Crime, Mystery & Thriller, Nordic Noir

Twitter: @ragnarjo

I am delighted to host today's stop on the blog tour for The Island by Ragnar Jonasson, the second book in the Hidden Iceland series.

Blurb

The island of Elliðaey sits off the Icelandic coast. Accessible only by boat its isolation makes it the perfect place to vanish.

During a long, hot summer four friends visit the island. Only three will return.

They each share a past, and a dark secret that could harm them all. As the days pass, tensions rise and loyalties are shed, one of them will commit murder.

Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdóttir is sent to investigate and soon finds echoes with the case of a young woman found murdered ten years previously in the nearby West Fjords. Is there a patient killer stalking these barren outposts?

As Hulda navigates a sinister game constructed of smoke and mirrors, she is convinced that no one is telling the truth, including those closest to her. But who will crack first?

Haunting, suspenseful and as chilling as the Icelandic winter The Island follows one woman's journey to find the truth hidden in the darkest shadows, and shine a light on her own dark past.

Review

The Island is a tale which will draw you in from the very first chapter.  I particularly liked the first and last sentences of the prologue - puzzling and absolutely gripping!

Whilst investigating a death, Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdóttier begins to suspect links to another murder which occurred a decade earlier. Unfortunately, her investigation is hindered by a reluctance by both the witnesses/suspects and her police colleagues to provide her with the full, non-redacted truth.

Hulda is an interesting character. Having suffered great tragedy and sadness in her own life, she has thrown herself into her work but has not had quite the success she had hoped for. She is a credible and likeable character, and one whom I'm looking forward to reading more about as I catch up with the rest of the Hidden Iceland series.

As with all of Jonasson's books, the crime is the real focus of the tale. The plot is dark, disturbing and well-conceived. Opening with a particularly cryptic prologue from 1988, followed by several individual scenes from 1987, it is fascinating to watch the story unfold. There are a number of twists and turns that provide a real sense of mystery and intrigue to the story.

I very much like the author's writing style. There is a flow to the writing that ensures the book is a real pleasure to read. His language may be fairly concise, yet he provides great detail of the Icelandic scenery and weather. Jonasson's writing always has a chilling and haunting feel to it, echoing the wintry and bleak setting. This is an author who shows the reader the tale, letting them become involved in the story rather than merely narrating it to them. The story certainly kept me on the edge of my seat wondering where it was all going to lead...

The Island is a riveting tale of secrets, lies and tragedy. It is suspenseful, dark and atmospheric. A beautifully written tale that I would absolutely recommend to anyone who enjoys crime fiction.

Having not yet read The Darkness (the first in the Hidden Iceland series), I can confirm that The Island can be read as a standalone novel.  I will, however, be reading The Darkness as soon as possible and I will eagerly await the third and final part of the Hidden Iceland trilogy. I also think that this book (and likely the entire series) would translate very well to the screen.

About the Author

Ragnar Jonasson
Ragnar Jónasson was born in Reykjavík, Iceland, where he works as a writer and a lawyer and teaches copyright law at Reykjavík University. He has previously worked on radio and television, including as a TV news reporter for the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service, and, from the age of seventeen, has translated fourteen of Agatha Christie's novels. He is an international Number One bestseller.







Buy Links



You can catch up with the other stops on this blog tour, details listed below.

The Island Blog Tour



Book Review: I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella (#ThePigeonholeHQ)

on
Friday, 5 April 2019

I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella


Title: I Owe You One
Author: Sophie Kinsella
Publisher: Transworld Digital
Publication Date: 7 February 2019

Twitter: @KinsellaSophie

Blurb

Fixie Farr can’t help herself. Straightening a crooked object, removing a barely-there stain, helping out a friend . . . she just has to put things right. It’s how she got her nickname, after all.

So when a handsome stranger in a coffee shop asks her to watch his laptop for a moment, Fixie not only agrees, she ends up saving it from certain disaster. To thank her, the computer’s owner, Sebastian, scribbles her an IOU – but of course Fixie never intends to call in the favour.

That is, until her teenage crush, Ryan, comes back into her life and needs her help – and Fixie turns to Seb. But things don’t go according to plan, and now Fixie owes Seb: big time.

Soon the pair are caught up in a series of IOUs – from small favours to life-changing debts – and Fixie is torn between the past she’s used to and the future she deserves. 

Does she have the courage to fix things for herself and fight for the life, and love, she really wants? 

Blog Tour & Book Review: The House at Greenacres by Darcie Boleyn (with #Extract)

on
Wednesday, 3 April 2019



Title: The House at Greenacres
Author: Darcie Boleyn
Publisher: Canelo
Publication Date: 25 March 2019
Genre: Women’s Fiction

Twitter: @darcieboleyn

Previous Books: Summer at Connwenna Cove, Christmas at Conwenna Cove, Forever at Conwenna Cove, Love at the Northern Lights and Love at the Italian Lake

Welcome to day 10 on the blog tour for The House at Greenacres. Huge thanks to Canelo for inviting me to take part in the blog tour and for the review copy of the novel.

Blurb

All roads lead home…

When Holly Dryden fled Penhallow Sands nearly a year ago she was determined to put the past – and Rich Turner – behind her. But now an unexpected loss and financial trouble has led her back to the family vineyard and it’s time to tell Rich the truth – he’s a father.

Surrounded by the memories of what they once shared Holly’s anger fades in the glow of Rich’s undeniable love for their son and the way he selflessly steps in to help the vineyard out of trouble. As Holly watches Rich flourish in his new role as father to baby Luke, she realises that though they can’t change the past, the future is still theirs to write…

Extract

I'm very excited to be able to treat you to an extract from the book:

‘He’s beautiful!’ Fran smiled as Holly lifted her son out of the cot.

I think so, but then I’m biased.’
‘How old is he?’
‘Fourteen weeks.’
‘So is he …’ Fran bit her bottom lip and Holly knew what her friend wanted to ask.
‘He is. I’ve just told Rich … He didn’t know before. It’s complicated, but we haven’t had a chance to speak about it properly yet, so please—’
‘Of course I won’t say anything. It’s not my place to. But then … you must have been pregnant when you left?’
‘I was but I didn’t know it. Because of my polycystic ovaries, I rarely had periods anyway, so I had no idea anything was wrong. I felt a bit under the weather but blamed a cold, then the stress of me and Rich breaking up. Look, I need to make Luke a bottle, so let’s get him downstairs and we can talk more.’
Fran squeezed Holly’s arm. ‘We won’t have an opportunity to talk downstairs. As soon as people see Luke, they’ll be all over you like a rash. Let me give him a cuddle now and we can get together at the weekend or something and have a proper chat.’
Holly handed Luke over, and Fran cooed at him until he grabbed hold of one of her earrings.
‘Here, let me help you.’ Holly gently prised Luke’s fingers from the antique silver drops, then took him back. ‘He clearly likes your choice of jewellery.’
‘He has good taste then.’ Fran chuckled. ‘Don’t fancy having my ears torn in half, though.’ She removed her earrings and tucked them into a pocket, then held out her arms again. ‘You get his bottle ready and I’ll bring him down.’
‘I did try to feed him myself.’ Holly felt the old urge to explain herself emerging. ‘It was all I heard when I was pregnant – how important it was to breastfeed and give the baby the milk my body had made especially for him. He was born prematurely, and I did express milk at the hospital, which they gave to him in tiny bottles. I fed him for six weeks after taking him home, then I developed mastitis and it was agony. I was in tears all the time. After three rounds of antibiotics, I gave up and put him back on the bottle.’
‘Holly.’ Fran looked her straight in the eye. ‘Is this baby fed, warm and safe?’
‘Well … yes. Of course.’
‘Then stop beating yourself up about breastfeeding.’
‘I can’t help it. He’s still so young, and every time I see a woman feeding her child, or read something about it, I feel so guilty that I can’t do it properly.’
‘You’re doing the best you can. My mother told me that she fed me until I was seven months old, but I know some women who popped their babies straight on the bottle, and there’s nothing wrong with that at all. You gave Luke a damned good start, so please don’t be so hard on yourself.’
‘Oh Fran, I’ve missed you.’
And she had. She’d missed her practical, no-nonsense approach to life, missed her reassurance and her hugs. Fran had always been able to make her feel better about things.
‘I’ve missed you too.’ Hurt crossed Fran’s face again, and Holly’s heart lurched.
‘I need to explain some things to you, and I hope that when I do, you’ll understand. There isn’t a good enough reason for running off and not contacting you, but I was a mess. Ironically, I needed your friendship and support more than ever, but I couldn’t ask for it. I had to cut myself off from everything at Greenacres and Penhallow Bay, and the only contact I had was with my dad.’
‘I know. I asked him about you and he told me you were well but that you needed some time out. He was very good and didn’t give anything away about where you were or about Luke.’
Fran moved Luke onto her hip, then took Holly’s hand.
‘You’re here now and you’re safe and well. I can see that you’ve had your hands full. Besides which, you’ve just lost your grandpa and I don’t want you feeling bad about me today of all days. I’m fine; I survived. But please promise me one thing.’
‘Of course.’
‘Don’t run off again … at least not without letting me know how to get hold of you.’
Holly took a deep breath. ‘I promise you, I won’t.’
It was a promise she intended to keep.
***
Holly gave the bottle one more shake, then tested the heat of the milk on her wrist. It was perfect. She walked to the door, and froze as Lucinda Turner filled the doorway.
‘Hello, Holly.’
‘Lucinda.’ She pulled herself up to her full height. She didn’t want any conflict, but this was her home, and if Lucinda wanted a repeat performance of last year, then Holly had a few things to say in return.
‘I’m very sorry for your loss, Holly.’
‘Uh … thanks.’ Holly recalled seeing Lucinda at the church, noticing the question in her eyes when she’d looked at Luke. Then she remembered the last time Lucinda had spoken to her before that, and she shivered.
‘He was a good man, your grandpa.’
Holly nodded.
‘I see congratulations are in order too.’ Lucinda’s brown eyes fixed on the bottle in Holly’s hand.
Holly could sense the questions bubbling. No doubt Lucinda thought she had got together with someone else as soon as she’d split up from Rich. It hurt her to feel that this woman who she’d spent so much time with, who she’d once cared about and respected, could believe that of her.
‘It’s not how it looks, Lucinda.’
‘It’s not for me to judge you.’ Rich’s mother shook her head sadly.
‘Judge me?’ The words were out before she could stop herself. She swallowed hard, pushing down the rest of what she wanted to say. The last time she had seen Lucinda, the older woman had judged her very harshly indeed.
‘Here he is!’ Fran squeezed past Lucinda with Luke in her arms, and Holly sagged with relief at the interruption. ‘He says he wants his bottle pronto.’
Fran pulled out a chair at the kitchen table, then shifted Luke around in her arms, as naturally as though she held babies every day. Holly handed her the bottle and Luke started to feed, gazing up at Fran as he did so, as if he’d known her all his short life. He was so trusting, such a happy, settled baby, and Holly knew she was lucky in that respect. It could have been very different if he’d been born even earlier, or if he’d not been as strong as he was.
She pulled out a chair and sank onto it, wishing she could go and lie down, but with Lucinda in the room, her fight-or-flight instinct was on high alert. Lucinda crossed the kitchen and crouched down in front of Fran.
‘He’s perfect.’ She stroked Luke’s cheek gently, which made Holly bristle. If Holly hadn’t been good enough for Lucinda’s son, would she think the same of her child? But then, as she watched, Lucinda’s eyes filled with tears. ‘He looks so much like …’
‘I know.’ Holly nodded. She’d seen the photographs, had known Rich and his brother Dean as children. Of course she was aware that Luke was the image of them. ‘He’s Rich’s son.’
She had wondered about telling Lucinda when she saw her, had wondered if the woman would even want to know, but witnessing her reaction to Luke had made the decision easy. In spite of how badly Lucinda had treated her the last time she’d come to Greenacres, it was clear now that meeting her grandson had moved her.
Fran looked up and met Holly’s eyes.
‘Tell you what,’ she said. ‘I think he needs changing. I’ll just pop him upstairs.’
Holly smiled her thanks, then she and Lucinda were left alone.
‘I can hardly believe what’s happened to us all,’ Lucinda said as she sat down. ‘What a mess we’ve made of things.’
‘Lucinda … I’ve only just told Rich about Luke. It’s a difficult situation and I hope you’ll understand that I couldn’t tell you before. After the way you spoke to me last year …’
‘I know, and I am truly sorry. I was so angry and upset when Rich left that I couldn’t think straight.’
Holly’s stomach was somersaulting with anxiety, but she knew she had to get the conversation over with or she’d never be able to relax in Penhallow Sands. She’d learnt the hard way that delaying difficult conversations didn’t always help. She’d been afraid of what her grandpa would think about Luke, and afraid of how Lucinda and Rex would treat her and her son, so she hadn’t come home; and because of that, she hadn’t been able to hug her grandpa again or kiss him goodbye.
‘Lucinda, I was broken-hearted when Rich let me down the way he did, and then to have you coming here and saying such hurtful things was like having vinegar poured over a wound.’ Holly’s stomach churned at the memory of Lucinda standing at the back door, her eyes red and puffy, her hands planted firmly on her ample hips. When Holly had answered the door, she’d expected Lucinda to hug her and cry with her because Rich had left, but instead she’d been subjected to a tirade in which Lucinda had blamed her for the fact that her only surviving son had upped and left without an explanation.
Lucinda shook her head sadly and released a deep sigh.
‘Holly, I know the truth now. I know it wasn’t your fault at all.’
‘Rich told you?’
‘He did. He told me that he let you down by not turning up at the solicitor’s office to sign the contracts for the cottage, then when you tracked him down, he hurt you even more.’
‘I wanted to explain to you that I hadn’t made him leave, that I loved him and that he’d broken my heart, but you—’
‘I blamed you because it was easier; because I couldn’t bear thinking that my only son had left me and his dad. I didn’t mean what I said.’
Holly nodded, but the pain ran deep. She’d known Lucinda throughout her childhood, as she and Rich had been good friends long before there was anything romantic between them. Lucinda had tended to Holly’s cut knees, hugged her when she’d cried over losing her mum and taken her shopping so they could enjoy girlie days out together. Then, that awful day, she had told Holly that she was to blame for Rich leaving the village, that she had never been good enough for him and that she never wanted to see her again.
‘When I found out I was pregnant, I fell apart. I had no idea what to do. In the past, I’d have come to you and asked your advice. Especially in light of the fact that Luke is your grandson. But because of what you’d said, I had no idea if you’d even care. I thought about coming back to Greenacres so many times, but the knowledge of how much you hated me was one of the things that kept me away.’
Lucinda’s mouth was open and tears were running freely down her cheeks.
‘There’s no excuse for what I did, Holly.’
‘I do understand that you lost your son, and that made certain things harder for you …’
‘No. That was why I reacted as I did, but to treat you so appallingly – a young woman who was like a daughter to me – was inexcusable, and I understand if you can’t forgive me. It took me a while to realize what a mistake I’d made, and it wasn’t until Rich came home and explained everything that I understood how bad that mistake was. But love, please believe me when I say that I never hated you.’
Holly sniffed. She had abhorred being angry at Lucinda and it had contributed to her own misery.
‘Please try to forgive me, Holly. I’d really love to get to know my grandson and to make it up to you.’
Holly nodded. ‘I’d like that too.’
She did want Luke to know his family, but she also knew that it would take time. There was a lot of hurt to work through first, and months of pain wouldn’t disappear overnight.
‘I’m glad you’re okay, Holly. We were all worried when you suddenly left, and I knew it was partly my fault. What with Rich going too, it was like losing two members of our family.’ Lucinda wiped at her eyes as she stood up. ‘But the most important thing is that you’re all right. And your baby son too. How … how old is he?’
‘Three and a half months. He came seven weeks early,’ Holly added.
‘That must have been a worrying time for you.’
‘It was. I need to speak to Rich about it all.’ She met Lucinda’s gaze. ‘We didn’t have much time to talk earlier, but obviously there are conversations that need to be had.’
‘Of course there are.’ Lucinda pushed her shiny bobbed brown hair behind her ears. ‘You’re not rushing off again, though, are you?’
Holly shook her head.
‘Come and see us at the bakery? Please.’
‘I will.’
‘And bring Luke?’
‘Of course.’
‘And remember that I am sorry, Holly. I’d do anything to take my words back.’
Holly nodded. If only it was as simple as that, but once things were said, they were out there. All she could do now was try to move on, for Luke’s sake.


Hopefully that little taster has whetted your appetite! If so, you can find the links for purchasing the book below.

Review

If you have read one of Darcie Boleyn’s previous novels, you will know to expect a warm and uplifting tale. The House at Greenacres is no exception.

Set in a country vineyard (is there ever a better setting for any book!) in Cornwall. I couldn’t imagine a more appealing setting right now than a warm summer’s day in the green countryside, surrounded by grape vines, friends, wine and frolicking dogs! Penhallow Sands sounds like a marvellous place and there is a wonderful sense of community running through the story.

As Holly returns to her childhood home for her grandpa’s funeral, she is apprehensive.  She hasn’t ben home for a year and now she is returning with a small baby in tow. A baby who some people aren’t yet aware of…  The reasons for Holly’s departure from Penhallow Sands quickly become clear. Slightly less clear is whether or not Holly can tear herself away from her beloved family and leave Penhallow Sands once again.

The book contains a wonderful cast of engaging characters, from sweet and resilient Holly and her loving and eccentric Granny Glenda to conscience-stricken Rich and his apologetic mother Lucinda. All the characters are well-rounded and believable, being both flawed but likeable. Rich has acted in a terrible way towards Holly, however the reader is taken past his actions and to the man beneath (or at least to the man Rich wants to be).  He has recognised his flaws, accepted his punishment and now will he be given a second chance to make things right…?

Despite predicting the ending pretty early on in the book, this does not detract from the tale. It is an utterly charming novel, a heart-warming and enjoyable tale of family, love and second chances. A great spring time read!

About the Author

Darcie Boleyn has a huge heart and is a real softy. She never fails to cry at books and movies, whether the ending is happy or not. Darcie is in possession of an overactive imagination that often keeps her awake at night. Her childhood dream was to become a Jedi but she hasn’t yet found suitable transport to take her to a galaxy far, far away. She also has reservations about how she’d look in a gold bikini, as she rather enjoys red wine, cheese and loves anything with ginger or cherries in it – especially chocolate. Darcie fell in love in New York, got married in the snow, rescues uncoordinated greyhounds and can usually be found reading or typing away on her laptop.



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