Author: Claire Huston
Published: July 2021 by Goldcrest Books International
Category: Romance, Relationships, Contemporary Fiction
Haileybrook, a beautiful village in the peaceful Cotswolds countryside, is most people’s idea of heaven on earth.
Born and raised in this small slice of paradise, Elle Bea can’t wait to leave.
It should be easy, but every time she packs her bags for exotic adventures, old loves and loyalties pull her back.
Will Elle be forced to forget her dreams of far-flung places and epic romance, or can she grab one last chance to have it all?
An uplifting, romantic story about friends, family and the relationships that make a place a home.
We meet Elle Bea the day after her 23rd birthday, secreted in a hidden corner of the library and wandering the streets of Florence in her imagination, immersed in E.M. Forster’s Room With A View. Elle, just returned from university, has never been abroad and can’t wait to leave the quiet confines of Haileybrook for a European tour with her friend, Serena, in the summer. But life can be anything but straightforward and often things don’t go to plan.
Life seems to happen around Elle and sweep her along. She has a tendency to put everyone else first and her own plans on hold, which isn’t a bad thing in moderation, but Elle lets herself be taken advantage of. Sometimes I just wanted to give her a shake, especially where her childhood crush is concerned and even more so with her lodger. What a horror! Otherwise the characters are likeable and I enjoyed the story.
The narrative is split into five parts, covering several years and the major events in Elle’s life. I enjoyed the messaging back and forth between Elle and a student she met at the beginning of the story. She was attracted to him but circumstances intervened, she missed her chance and he moved to the US.
Elle smiled. It was like watching a Quentin Blake sketch come to life. Perhaps not his best work though. More like something he had scrawled on the back of a napkin. With a leaky biro.
Elle’s family life is unconventional. Her mother doesn’t seem to have a maternal bone in her body, mostly off doing her own thing and critical when she does appear. Elle has been brought up by her father, and her Aunt Cath who lives next door. Coupled with her mother’s absence and attitude, plus being bullied as a child (thank goodness she had brothers Seth and Toby to watch out for her) Elle is lacking in confidence.
The setting is lovely and the descriptions of the village and its community make it sound very appealing, despite the fact the amenities seem to be disappearing. Luckily plans are afoot to breathe new life into the village. Characters are developed well as the story progresses and there are three possibilities for Elle’s happy ever after. I know who I hoped it was going to be…but did I get my wish…
I won Elle’s A to Z of Love in a giveaway. Many thanks to Claire Huston for my copy.
Claire Huston lives in Warwickshire, UK. She writes uplifting modern love stories about characters who are meant for each other but sometimes need help figuring that out. A keen amateur baker, she enjoys making cakes, biscuits and brownies almost as much as eating them. You can find recipes for all the cakes mentioned in her first novel, Art and Soul, on her website along with over 100 other recipes. This is also where she talks about and reviews books.
As well as her website, you can find her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram: linktr.ee/clairehuston_author