I’m delighted to be part of the blog tour for The Best Boomerville Hotel by Caroline James
Published: 13th March 2018
Category: Contemporary Fiction, Romantic Comedy, Book Review
Let the shenanigans begin at the Boomerville hotel …
Jo Docherty and Hattie Contaldo have a vision – a holiday retreat in the heart of the Lake District exclusively for guests of ‘a certain age’ wishing to stimulate both mind and body with new creative experiences. One hotel refurbishment later and the Best Boomerville Hotel is open for business!
Perhaps not surprisingly Boomerville attracts more than it’s fair share of eccentric clientele: there’s fun loving Sir Henry Mulberry and his brother Hugo; Lucinda Brown, an impoverished artist with more ego than talent; Andy Mack, a charming Porsche-driving James Bond lookalike, as well as Kate Simmons, a woman who made her fortune from an internet dating agency but still hasn’t found ‘the One’ herself.
With such an array of colourful individuals there’s bound to be laughs aplenty, but could there be tears and heartbreak too and will the residents get more than they bargained for at Boomerville?
‘Britain’s answer to the Best Marigold Hotel! Book me in for Sharing with the Shaman and Clairvoyance in mid-life – this book is fabulous!’
Nikki Ashton, Amazon best-selling author
After reading Jungle Rock I was hoping there would be more from those characters, and here we have best friends Jo and Hattie realising their vision of a hotel aimed specifically at people of a certain age. The post war ‘baby boomers’. Located in the picturesque Lake District, and offering a variety of courses and treatments, the hotel attracts its fair share of colourful and eccentric characters.
Kate Simmons is fifty and single, grieving for her late father. She has a beautiful home and is very comfortably off, having sold her successful online dating agency business. Ironically, she hasn’t found love herself and despairs of ever doing so. When Kate sees an advert in the paper for a luxury hotel break with a difference, she decides to take a chance and fills in the booking form.
Two or three weeks away might help her heal, for sitting around here only made the loss of her beloved dad more unbearable. If her booking was accepted, she could soon be heading north and there was only one way to find out. Kate pressed the send key.
She thought about clothes for autumn in the Lake District and feeling energised by the turn of events, decided to head upstairs and check her wardrobe. There was a spring in Kate’s step as she hurried through the house. Perhaps there was hope after all.
A very entertaining read, with a great mix of realistic and (mostly) likeable, endearing characters, from the irrepressible Mulberry brothers, over the top but fun Hattie, to a resident mystical Shaman, and we get to know them all through the course of the story. Some, like Kate, are looking for something specific missing from their lives, others for an opportunity, while new experiences which wouldn’t normally figure in their lives is also a draw. There are plenty of diverse courses for those that want them, including pottery, creative writing, art and appointments with Shaman in his tepee.
Regardless of the returning characters, this novel can definitely be read as a standalone, as enough of Jo and Hattie’s backstory is given. Humorous writing is threaded through with poignancy and an underlying threat which gathers momentum. The characters are all well drawn with their own back stories, quirks and all, and I love the interaction between them. I enjoyed The Best Boomerville Hotel very much. If it was a real place, I’d book a couple of weeks myself!
I chose to read and review The Best Boomerville Hotel courtesy of Rachel’s Random Resources, NetGalley and the author/publisher.
Footsteps shuffled along the carpeted hallway and Hattie recognised the soft-soled step of their oldest guest.
‘Morning Hattie!’ a voice boomed out.
‘Morning, Sir Henry.’
‘It’s a fine morning for it.’ Sir Henry acknowledged Hattie by waving his silver-topped walking cane. His heavily waxed handlebar moustache stood at right angles above jowls that wobbled as he teetered along.
Hattie pushed her plate to one side. She wasn’t sure what ‘it’ Sir Henry Mulberry was referring to and glanced at her computer to see which course he’d booked that day. She noted that he was down for wine tasting.
Hattie frowned. Sir Henry had caused chaos in creative writing last week and the other students had to be calmed at the end of the session. Sir Henry’s half-completed memoirs, Fifty Shades of Sheepdogs, had upset some of the ladies in the group, although one or two, including Hattie, enjoyed the scintillating excerpts.
‘Just like the old days,’ Sir Henry said. ‘Marvellous to see the place back on its feet. Book me in for a month.’
‘I’ll be happy to extend your booking.’
‘Good girl. Looking forward to my breakfast,’ he said and trundled off in search of the first meal of the day.
Hattie made a note on her pad. Guests came to stay for a week or two at a time and many stayed longer, depending on their commitments at home. She wondered how Sir Henry had slipped through the net. His criteria had been way outside the specifics Jo laid down, breaking the rules on age and health, but they’d needed some fee-paying guests when the hotel re-opened and Jo had a long-standing loyalty to Sir Henry. In days gone by he’d stayed at the hotel with clients, spending a considerable sum entertaining the hoi polloi of the booze business.
‘Any post for me?’
A deep smoky voice woke Hattie from her daydreams.
‘The postman hasn’t arrived yet, Lucinda.’
Hattie looked up at a woman leaning on the desk. Lucinda Brown was weighed down with chunky wooden beads and a forlorn expression.
‘Have you cut yourself shaving?’ Lucinda asked.
Hattie frowned and, wiping her chin, found a large dollop of ketchup.
‘I see you’re down for a day with the Shaman?’ Hattie checked her spreadsheet. She ticked Lucinda’s name off the list of participants for Sharing with the Shaman, a course that was run in a tepee situated in the meadow.
‘I hope it’s better than Clairvoyance in Midlife.’
Hattie listened to Lucinda drone on about the shortcomings of her experiences. The clairvoyance course was an intimate little group who met in an old gypsy caravan and, to date, had been a big hit with guests and non-residents alike. Middle-agers had returned from their sessions with beatific expressions as they floated down the garden, confident that the spirits of their dead granny and Rover the family pet was beside them, whispering and woofing encouraging words from beyond.
Lucinda was probably after a refund. She claimed to be an artist whose work was highly sought after and, after googling her name, Hattie wondered who on earth was daft enough to purchase the paintings that appeared online. She had doubts about Lucinda’s financial status and would need to keep a close eye on her account.
‘Sharing with the Shaman is right up your street and I can personally recommend it.’
Hattie watched Lucinda’s aloof expression change to one of feigned interest and questioned how the artist supported the weight of that much silver draped around her thin wrists. A lick of polish on her talon-like nails wouldn’t go amiss.
‘The older I get the more ridiculous this all seems,’ Lucinda sighed. ‘I may indulge with the Shaman but I’ll want a credit if his teachings aren’t to my liking.’
‘I think it will leave you with memories that will stay long after your time here ends.’ Hattie smiled and made a note to nip over to the tepee to tip the Shaman off before the course began. Lucinda’s welcoming drink might need a dash more magic potion than normal.
Lucinda walked away and Hattie watched her ignore a waiter, on hand to guide guests into the breakfast room. At the conservatory door, Lucinda stopped and placed a cigarette in a holder. She held it high as she set off across the lawn, creating a halo of smoke around her diminishing figure.
Hattie looked at her watch. The morning team was about to take over, which meant that she could take a break. Picking up her empty plate, she headed for the kitchen.
Just enough time for another bacon buttie!
Caroline James has owned and run businesses encompassing all aspects of the hospitality industry, a subject that features in her novels. She is based in the UK but has a great fondness for travel and escapes whenever she can. A public speaker, consultant and food writer, Caroline is a member of the Romantic Novelist’s Association and writes articles and short stories and contributes to many publications. Her debut novel, Coffee, Tea, The Gypsy & Me is set in North West England, at the time of a famous gypsy horse fair. The book went straight to number three on Amazon and was E-book of the Week in The Sun.
So, You Think You’re A Celebrity…Chef? was runner up the Winchester Writers festival for best TV Drama and takes a light-hearted look at the world of celebrity chefs as they battle it out for fame and fortune. Coffee, Tea, The Caribbean & Me was runner up at The Write Stuff, LBF, 2015 and is an Amazon best-seller and top recommended read by Thomson Holidays. Jungle Rock, a romcom novella set in Australia, revolves around a TV game show.
In her spare time, Caroline can be found trekking up a mountain or relaxing with her head in a book and hand in a box of chocolates.