A Holly Bay Christmas by Jo Bartlett @J_B_Writer Contemporary #Christmas @FabrianBooks

  • 32946761Author: Jo Bartlett
  • Published: November 2016 by Fabrian Books
  • Category: Contemporary Romance
  • four-stars

Maddie owns her dream business running a combined bookshop and tea rooms, in the beautiful Cornish village of Holly Bay. When Ben arrives looking for a place to rent, Maddie is keen to help him find a home in the town she loves, where they really know how to celebrate Christmas.

Maddie owns Basil’s Adventures, bookstore and tea rooms, named after her much loved and missed grandfather, the man who shaped her love of books and reading. With the inheritance he left Maddie, she was able to move to Holly Bay and realise her dream of opening her own bookstore. I think that would be my dream job too! Continue reading

A Week In Winter

  • AWeekinWinterAuthor: Marcia Willett
  • Published: October 2002 by Headline
  • Category: Contemporary Fiction, Romance
  • four-stars

When Maudie Todhunter finally decides she must sell Moorgate, her beautiful farmhouse on the edge of Bodmin Moor, she anticipates strong objections from her family – particularly from Selina, her stepdaughter, with whom she has never seen eye to eye. But no one could have predicted the feelings that Moorgate evokes or the consequences…

I first read this book a good few years ago but didn’t remember much of the story except that I enjoyed it, so I decided to revisit it for Vikki Patis’ Cornish Reading Challenge. 

Maudie Todhunter, Hector’s second wife, is recently widowed and has decided to sell Moorgate, the family’s holiday home, for much-needed funds. Her step daughter, Selina, has always hated Maudie through jealousy and her need to always come first. She has never forgiven Maudie for ‘taking her mother’s place’ and is obsessed with the need to possess, whether it’s people or things. Her continued hostility and bitterness eventually takes its toll on her long-suffering family. Selina’s daughter, Posy, and Maudie have formed a strong bond and are very close, adding to Selina’s bitterness and dissatisfaction with what she sees as a personal slight. 

Maudie is straightforward and down to earth but has struggled with a festering resentment of everyone telling how perfect Hector’s first wife, Hilda, had been. The perfect mother, wife, cook, friend, so much so she had done her best to make herself the total opposite of Hilda. Hilda’s erstwhile best friend, Daphne, proved to be Maudie’s salvation and their liking for each other grew into a very close, lifelong bond.

…not like Hilda who held it an article of faith that a woman should make the best of herself at all times; who considered it an almost sacred duty to be good-tempered and forbearing at any cost. After a while, when Patricia and Selina made it painfully, cruelly clear that she would never replace their dead mother, Maudie had made it almost a point of honour to be as different from Hilda as it was possible to be.

Rob Abbot, after giving up his engineering job in London and moving to Cornwall, is renovating Moorgate and has fallen in love with the house but when Melissa Clayton comes to stay in the area, for a week during the winter, to view the property Rob finds his priorities changing, along with both their lives. Things will never be the same again for Rob. Neither Rob nor Melissa could have foreseen the effect Moorgate, or each other, would have.

The author has an unpretentious writing style and the book is peopled with mostly likeable and realistic characters, the narrative is from various perspectives which works well within the framework of the story. The descriptions of Cornwall’s beautiful scenery, Bodmin Moor and the farmhouse are enchanting and give a real sense of place. I was hooked into the story again quite quickly.

A tangle of human emotions runs throughout – love, guilt, loss and forgiveness, all the stuff of extended family dynamics, with a mix of strengths and weaknesses. Past secrets to be uncovered and a hint of the supernatural.

Now and again an author will move me to tears and, ok maybe it’s a little indulgent, but occasionally a sentimental book, or movie, a glass of wine and a tissue or two is called for.

Book links ~ Amazon UK Amazon US

About the author

MWillettMarcia Willett began her career as a novelist when she was fifty years old. Since that first novel Marcia has written twenty more under her own name as well as a number of short stories. She has also written four books under the pseudonym “Willa Marsh”, and is published in more than sixteen countries. 

Marcia Willett’s early life was devoted to the ballet, but her dreams of becoming a ballerina ended when she grew out of the classical proportions required. She had always loved books, and a family crisis made her take up a new career as a novelist – a decision she has never regretted. She lives in a beautiful and wild part of Devon where she loves to be visited by her son and young family.

Drowned Murmurs

  • Drowned MurmursAuthor: Honour Amelia Dawson
  • Published: June 2014 by Stoats & Swan
  • Category: Supernatural, Mystery
  • three-half-stars

Rosie's Book Review Challengers 1

I received a copy from the author as part of Rosie Amber’s book review team.

Michaela and Sam are renovating a Victorian house. Primrose Cottage has a tragic history which somehow influences Michaela’s emotional stability. Local residents provoke a strong reaction from Michaela, their nasty accusations of abuse and child murders refer to Catherine who once lived in Michaela’s new home. Unconvinced, effected by personal conflicts, Michaela sets out to investigate Catherine’s family life, a mystery with angry undercurrents.

Set in an old house in Cornwall the story parallels the lives of two women. Michaela in the present day and Catherine, who lived there in the early 1900s and is one of Michaela’s ancestors. Michaela has inherited the house from an uncle she never met. She and her husband, Sam, are renovating the property for themselves. The house has a less than favourable history and Michaela and Sam are warned against settling there.

After having several visions about Catherine and the distressing events in her life, Michaela confides in Sam and decides she wants to prove Catherine innocent of the accusations levelled against her. Michaela is convinced the rumours surrounding Catherine are unfounded. 

Catherine’s story is very sad and I appreciate the difficulties she faced as a woman without rights of any sort in the days of terrible inequality. The cultural and environmental factors of the time were not focused on the welfare or support of women. I could feel Catherine’s frustration and feelings of injustice at her helplessness.

The premise of the story is interesting and makes you wonder if evil and tragedy can live on and affect future generations. 

‘You think this is about Bloomer?’
Silence.
‘Are you completely stupid?’
He perched on the bed and reached out his hand. She knocked it away. ‘Just go, I want to be alone. And don’t bother me again.’

Sadly, I couldn’t empathize with Michaela. She comes across as very abrasive, especially to Sam, and, to be honest, I was quite surprised he took all that was dished out as meekly as he did. Although the possible cause is discovered and she is redeemed somewhat, as it’s written in the book ‘it explains but doesn’t excuse.’ For all that she wants to dig and find out the truth when Sam sees a suspicious photograph Michaela doesn’t want to take it further, saying it’s none of her business.

There are several missed edits which was quite off-putting and frustrating after a while.

Drowned Murmurs may be purchased here

You can find out more about Honor on her website, Twitter, Goodreads and Facebook