Foolish protagonist and a prolonged ending

‘No One Knows Us Here’ – Rebecca Kelley


No One Knows Us Here

In this gripping novel about obsession, control, and self-preservation, a woman desperate to provide a new life for her sister enters a compromising arrangement with an entitled tech billionaire.

Rosemary Rabourne is already struggling to pay the bills when her recently orphaned half sister, Wendy, shows up at her door. Rosemary will try anything to provide for the traumatized teenager—even joining a high-end escort service.

Leo Glass is the billionaire CEO of a revolutionary social app. He wants the “girlfriend experience”—someone contractually obligated to love him—and he thinks he’s found the perfect match in Rosemary. His proposition has its perks: a free luxury apartment and financial security. And its conditions: constant surveillance and availability whenever Leo calls. It’s not the life Rosemary wants, but she’s out of options.

Then she meets her new neighbor, Sam, a musician with whom Rosemary shares an immediate attraction and a genuine intimacy she’s never felt with anyone. Falling in love makes it possible to imagine a real new life. But Leo won’t let go of her that easily, and his need for control escalates. So does Rosemary’s desperation—to protect Wendy, to protect herself, and, at any price, to escape.

With a foolish protagonist, a basic plot and a very protracted ending, this turned into just an average read. I was frustrated with Rosemary’s attitude throughout and thought the writer could have done far more with making the plot suspenseful.

Quite often, I felt uncomfortable when reading this narrative. I could not believe how easily Rosemary is coerced into being Leo’s fake girlfriend and how quickly she is submissive to his demands. Despite reminding herself that she is doing it to create a better life for her and her sister, I thought her choices were poor and obviously demonstrative of Leo’s controlling tendencies. I wanted Rosemary to pause and question what she was doing, but her mantra that she signed up for this way of living was merely a weak way of justifying everything in her head. It didn’t work for me.

What’s more, I failed to believe that Rosemary had her sister’s best interests at heart. She frequently abandons Wendy, even once they are living together, and I could not understand how Rosemary does not take a more proactive involvement in her younger sister’s life. Although there are warning signs that something is not quite right, Rosemary buries her head in the sand, happily blaming her contract with Leo for her failings.

The technology referred to in this story was interesting. It is basically a wide-spread surveillance system that claims to be used for social media and dating. It made my skin crawl, especially as people around Rosemary seem to willingly accept this invasion of privacy. I thought Kelley could have done more with this element of the story, developing it further around Leo’s sinister personality. Instead, it is more like an after thought and an added method of control over Rosemary.

I kept reading this book in the anticipation of some clever twists and turns. Yet, despite my wild theories throughout, these never materialised and this made me feel that the plot was significantly lacking in tension. Whilst considered as a thriller, I thought the plot was quite standard, even if the behaviours did make my toes curl. Furthermore, I thought the ending made the story to be too far-fetched for my liking and I thought the writer could have wrapped things up far more quickly. I was not interested in the court case and by this point, just wanted to see Rosemary’s future decided.

This was an alright read but it did not set me alight. I was looking for a suspenseful narrative that would have me questioning the plot direction. Instead, I was questioning the sanity of the protagonist, wondering why Rosemary would allow herself to get into such ludicrous situations.


Ready, set, bake!

‘The Great Christmas Cook Off’ – Helen Buckley


The Great Christmas Cook Off

It’s the festive showdown to end all festive showdowns …

“Queen of Chocolate” Beatrice Wodehouse, known for her decadent desserts, is ready to go head to head with her social media nemesis, clean lean baking machine Charlie Simmonds, in the Great Christmas Cook Off TV show.

Beatrice is fed up of Charlie’s sanctimonious attitude and is ready to show him that food is there to be enjoyed. Surely she’ll blow his keto, low sugar, low-carb mince pies out of the water with her chocolatey creations?

Except filming for the Cook Off turns out to be anything but sugar, spice and all things nice when the contestants realise there’s a festive saboteur in their midst – leading to melted ice cream, trifle mishaps and private stories leaked to the press.

As the countdown to the final commences, suspicions run high and sparks are bound to fly – and not just from the flaming Christmas puddings!

I have enjoyed all books I have read by Buckley, but this has to be my favourite by far. Christmas, baking and romance, what more could a girl ask for?!

I love how the writer is able to base a sweet romance story on a well-known television show and this one was no exception. With famous bakers competing in a Christmas series, Beatrice comes face-to-face with her long-term enemy: Charlie. Gradually, readers learn why the two are constantly at loggerheads but little do the characters realise that they actually have quite a few things in common. From emotional backgrounds and unhappiness to a love of baking, you would think this would be a recipe for love. However, whilst Beatrice is known as the ‘Queen of Chocolate’, Charlie is the antithesis: baking healthy, guilt-free treats. It’s this that forms the basis of their constant arguing, so you know that when they are competing for the title on the Cook Off show, it’s not going to be without any showdowns.

Yet, alongside this conflict is also the saboteur of the television show. Buckley details each of the rounds of the cooking competition and I really enjoyed reading about these – it felt like I was watching the actual program. At each round of the competition, someone seems to have made an amateur mistake. Eventually the bakers reach the conclusion that someone is deliberately ruining a contestant’s work, ensuring they leave the competition. But, who has such a nasty vendetta to ruin a harmless competition? Naturally, Charlie and Beatrice suspect one another. Will they ever be friends?

This read was as indulgent as Beatrice’s bakes – I wish her creations were available to buy, because they sounded so divine! I could vividly picture the setting as Beatrice and her competitors work hard at every round and, whilst I was able to predict the plot outcome very early in the novel, it definitely did not lessen my enjoyment of the book. Instead, I just felt absorbed by baking, chocolate and romance – a perfect combination.

Although this is set at Christmas, the focus is more on the baking competition; I really think you could read this book at any time of the year! It is a part of a series but can be read on its own. However, I loved seeing characters from previous novels appear in the story, especially in the final chapter. I really hope that there are more television shows-come-novels in the pipeline from Buckley.

Another cracking success from the writer. If you like romance and have a sweet tooth, this will have you reaching for the butter, eggs and sugar in no time!

With thanks to ChocLit for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


Life coaching and more

One Summer Weekend’ – Juliet Archer


One Summer Weekend

One summer weekend can change everything …

Alicia Marlowe’s life as an executive coach is well under control – until she meets her new client, Jack Smith. Jack’s reputation precedes him and Alicia knows immediately that he spells trouble. Not least because he reminds her of someone else – a man who broke her heart and made her resolve never to lower her guard again.

Taking Jack on as a client is a risk, but one that Alicia decides to take for the good of her career. As long as she keeps him in his place, she might just make it through unscathed. But Jack has other ideas – including a ‘business’ trip to the Lake District. One summer weekend with him is all it takes to put Alicia’s carefully organised world in a spin …

This was an indulgent and a bit of a cheesy romance but I really enjoyed it. It was quite a short read but I didn’t come to notice it as the relationship between Jack and Alicia develops.

From the beginning, the contrast established between the two characters is difficult to ignore. Jack is the playboy: cheeky, with many notches on his bedpost and seemingly uncaring towards any professional boundaries he may have with his new life coach. On the other hand, Alicia is more like a stiff broom: forever reprimanding Jack for his comments, reminding herself that she has a professional contract with this man and denying her growing feelings for this obvious hunk. You get the idea… eventually these boundaries break down to bring the couple together.

However, I can’t deny, some of the earlier scenes between Jack and Alicia did make me cringe. His disregard for Alicia’s personal feelings and the borderline-lewd comments did make my toes curl a little bit. I understand the effect the writer was trying to create and I get that fiction offers escapism. But, there were some points where I almost gasped in disbelief at how forceful Jack became with his sexual innuendoes. Did he really just say that?! It did take a bit of time for me to shrug this off, so I guess readers should take Jack’s advances with a little reminder that they are hyperbolic when compared to Alicia’s standoffishness.

This was a sweet romance read and I loved the main setting of the Lake District. The scenery was described in detail, bringing back many vivid memories. Although this part of the story was about faking a romance, I think it had a pace that some similar stories lacked. I also found it entertaining to see how Alicia’s attitude started to alter towards her coachee, even if she did have to keep reminding herself that she was away for the weekend… on business.

I didn’t grow to care much about the business element of the story. The scenes where Alicia is in London and the office discussions did not really interest me. For once, I just wanted to see the focus on Alicia and Jack: to get a true feel of their feelings and immerse myself in their connection. The debate that happens when Alicia is at a conference is a pivot part of the plot but, I must admit, I did think this started to get a bit tedious as I was reading. Instead, I just wanted to see more interaction between the main couple.

I liked this read because it was one I could immerse myself in and the plot was straight-forward – sometimes in life you need these sorts of books! The summer vibe and the trip to the Lake District created a charm and escapism, adding to the overall optimism of the story. It’s only short but I think the writer could not have developed it any more without the story losing pace.

With thanks to ChocLit for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


Married to the Mafia

Dangerous Revelations’ – Susan Bacoyanis


Dangerous Revelations

Once you are part of the Mafia family… you can never leave.

But Frances knew she had to get out. She defied the Godfather, escaped his clan in Southern Italy and flew to Geneva where she would be chaperoned by Gilda. A year earlier, she and Frances had formed a friendship while in California, when they were thrown together by circumstances involving the murder of Gilda’s adult son, Gary.

Gilda offers Frances sanctuary in her home. In exchange, Frances agrees to stay with Gilda in Geneva and write her biography. A story of a life enriched by love and devastated by sadness, loss and pain. But a story that also exposes the Mafia’s unsolved crimes and the dignitaries involved. With betrayal and revenge comes the expectation of retribution and the knowledge that the Mafia always seek vengeance.

Will either of them live beyond the publication of Gilda’s dangerous revelations?

In the end I was quite surprised by how much I enjoyed this novel. At first I was a bit confused by the Foreword, taken aback that there was clearly a predecessor to this story. I felt overwhelmed yet grateful for the backstory provided because of the sudden influx of characters and their connections. As the novel progressed, I actually revisited this summary because I felt I had a better grasp of the various characters.

Mafia reads are not something I would usually seek out but the writer has created a plot that was quickly absorbing and intriguing. I enjoyed Gilda’s narrative voice because it was so conversational and I felt like I was in the room with Frances. This made Gilda such a likeable character, even when her transgressions are revealed.

This story centres around Gilda telling her life story to Frances, who has the massive task of turning this manuscript into a book. Along the way, Gilda’s story is broken up with discussions between the two women as they reflect on Gilda’s past. I thought this an effective way of breaking up the historical narrative, even though the novel moved pretty quickly anyway.

As the story is so pacey, I think the writer could have afforded to add more detail to the story. Undoubtedly, Gilda’s time as the Mafia Queen was the most interesting and I think it would have added to the story if this part was expanded more. Deep down, I think I was yearning for some more typical Mafia scenes and I think it was a bit of a shame these weren’t included.

Sometimes I found the writing style to be a bit childish. I wonder if this was because the book is supposed to reflect the conversation between Gilda and Frances. However, I thought the exclamation mark was overused and I think this definitely lessened the strength if the narrative.

All in all, I was pleasantly surprised by this story and so glad I came across it on my e-reader! The writer has definitely piqued my curiosity and I will be sure to look out for the other books in this series to learn more about the connected stories.

With thanks to Endeavour Media for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


Yum, yum!

‘The Cornish Cream Tea Bus’ – Cressida McLaughlin


The Cornish Cream Tea Bus

Baking fanatic, Charlie Quilter, inherits a vintage bus in her late uncle’s will and is keen to give it a new lease of life. Charlie thinks it will be the perfect mobile café for afternoon tea, so she heads to the picturesque Cornish village of Porthgolow, hoping for a new start. However, Daniel Harper, the owner of the posh spa up on the hill isn’t very pleased that her bus is parked outside his lovely hotel. Has Charlie’s Cornish dream developed a soggy bottom? Or can she convince Daniel that her bus could take them somewhere wonderful?

Doing it the Cornish way: scone, jam and cream, is the theme of this lovely story that will guarantee your tummy will be rumbling. Thank goodness reading this book doesn’t give you calories: if I had eaten along with all of the characters, I would be in a very bad shape indeed!

This was such an enjoyable read and a great start to a series I am excited to pursue. It is a unique summer read and I love the concept of being able to have cream tea on a vintage bus (double decker mind, not what is implied by the book’s cover), with stunning views of the Cornish coast. Charlie is an incredibly likeable character and I loved how she channelled the grief over her uncle’s death into something that resulted in a new business venture she enjoys. Charlie is entrepreneurial and when she first arrives at Porthgolow, she recognises how sorry the village is. It has an abandoned vibe to it because it is overlooked by tourists; I could easily picture some tumbleweed, it looks so lonely!

As Charlie determines to draw crowds to Porthgolow with the help of Gertie, her bus, she finds that inevitably, not all of the locals are on board with her idea. In particular, local luxury spa owner, Daniel, seems especially negative and it appears that Daniel is going to try everything to get her to pack up and leave town. With so many things going wrong for Charlie, it is admirable that she continues on and I enjoyed watching her battles with Daniel – particularly as she starts to recognise there might be more to her conflicting feelings.

Enter Oliver, a local stall holder that makes an appearance at Charlie’s weekly food festivals at Porthgolow. It soon becomes clear that there is a bit of a love triangle emerging and I enjoyed how the writer keeps it unclear how Charlie’s relationships will develop. It adds another element to what is already a very likable story and enhanced the vibrant cast of characters.

The setting was very picturesque and I yearned to visit Porthgolow with its dramatic scenery. Furthermore, the way that Daniel’s spa retreat is personified was particularly effective. Acting like a sombre, preventative guardian over the village, I liked how this evolved over the story to reflect Charlie’s developing relationship with Daniel. Coupled with Reenie’s amazing cottage and the mysterious mermaid rumours, this added to the magic of the story.

I really enjoyed McLaughlin’s story and I would recommend this to anyone who is after a summery, beach read – as long as you can resist reaching for the tasty treats! Whilst I gear myself up to read the next book of the series, I might just go and have to hunt down some cream tea, although I must admit I am partial to the Devonshire way…

Women's fiction


‘The Word is Love’ – Florence Keeling



Lucky in life but unlucky in love, Lucy Greenfield owns a successful carriage business along with her best friend Max, and they have never been busier since their shire horses gained fame from their roles in the hit movie A Little in Love.

Too busy for romance, Lucy is surprisingly swept off her feet when Spencer arrives seeking help with his horse, and something more from Lucy. As quickly as Lucy falls, she wonders if all is not as it seems. Max can prove it, but that means he will have to express his true feelings for Lucy.

Relationships are strained as secrets unravel, and Lucy needs to solve the riddle of words to best describe how she feels… For her best friend.

Together, they must overcome what’s keeping them apart before it’s too late, if they are going to realise that the word is love.

This book was full of horses and a bit of romance too. I thought the plot was too predictable for my liking, leaving me wishing the characters would hurry up and ‘get on with it’.

I was a bit taken aback by how much the horses dominate the narrative. It is clear where Keeling’s love really is! Furthermore, I felt like I learned a fair bit about a livery and stables; Keeling presents Lucy’s business so vividly that I could almost feel like I was wearing jodhpurs whilst reading! I don’t think I was quite prepared for this theme to be so present; instead, I wanted to see more character development and the potential relationship between Max, Lucy, Alex and Spencer.

Lucy’s business is struggling and I really sympathised with how perilous the finances were becoming. Her visit to the bank to discuss money merely raises more questions than answers. With her dad passed away, Lucy knows that she needs to keep the stables going; if not to honour his memory, then to keep the business running for her and her domineering and old-fashioned mother. However, I do think Lucy is presented as naïve and a bit dense – especially when you take into consideration her behaviour surrounding Spencer.

The Word Is Love

Spencer appears to be Lucy’s knight in shining armour. At least, that’s what she thinks she should think. In reality, Max has taken a dislike to this new customer at the stables and her mother is simply an interfering old woman who I wished would be quiet! She really annoyed me. From the moment June has her accident, I thought she would not feature as much in the story because I wanted her to back off from Lucy. Constant nagging about Lucy’s single status and courtship really wound me up and I think I would have been forced to leave the woman in her room if it were me! Luckily, she does change for the better in the novel but I believe it took far too much for this to happen. Why could she not accept Lucy for who she was?!

This was a sweet romance story with a bit of peril too. To be honest, I don’t think the cover design does the plot any justice, especially as there is not a whinny of a horse! I enjoyed seeing how Lucy would react to different scenarios in the story, but wanted there to be more pace and less obvious developments.

Author bio:

I was born in Coventry but now live in Nuneaton. I married the love of my life over 20 years ago and we have two almost grown up children. We share our lives with two mad dogs as well.

Writing is a great passion of mine, that one day I hope to be able to turn into a career but until that day comes, I will continue working in accounts and payroll.

I also write for children as Lily Mae Walters.

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With thanks to Rachel’s Random Resources for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Women's fiction

I can go my own way

‘A Bumpy Year’ – Olivia Spooner



Pregnant. Single. Dating. It’s going to be… a bumpy year!

Trish Kirkpatrick never expected to find herself unmarried, pregnant… and not entirely sure who the baby’s father is.

With her ex, Pete, and her colleague, Elliot, in line for daddy duty while waiting on the DNA results, Trish finds her complicated world getting even more chaotic when a meet-cute on a plane to Tokyo with gorgeous architect Scott sparks a new flame.

Now, as her bump grows so do Trish’s troubles. Between family issues reappearing on her doorstep and the delivery date fast approaching, Trish will need to make up her mind not only on who she wants to be but who she wants to become.

I struggled to fully enjoy this novel because I did not grow to like any of the characters, apart from Scott. I found them to be rather selfish and I was sorry that a new baby would become involved in a rather strained circle of friends.

Although this is intended to be quite a light-hearted read, I could not ignore the elephant in the room: the overwhelming sadness that simmers under the surface of the protagonist, Trish. She is clearly not happy with life but manages to present a strong, detached façade that has her very close friends fooled. It is Scott, the stranger, who is able to encourage Trish to open up and acknowledge her feelings, but even this does not turn out to be enough and she still hides things away from those around her. I found this suffocating and I was surprised that Trish’s friends don’t pick up on any of the warning signs because, from my perspective, Trish’s behaviours screamed out as someone who was hurting.

Nonetheless, Trish eventually undergoes a transformation and I actually found the part where Trish is having her baby and settling into motherhood to be the most enjoyable element of the story. It felt incredibly vivid and brought back such precious memories of my own. I think Spooner expertly captures all the emotions that run through motherhood, along with how overwhelming it can be to prepare for the birth of a child, especially if it is your first and, particularly if you are going solo.

Regardless of Trish’s actions, it is clear that she does not intend for the biological father to be involved. Over the narrative, Trish will find out whether it is Pete or Elliot who will be involved in the baby’s life further, but I disliked how Spooner presented this. In no way did I read this aspect of the story and find it entertaining. Instead, it felt quite sad and harrowing that this was a baby who may not have much contact with their father as a result of an unfortunate turn of events. In my opinion, it presented the baby as a victim and I wanted Trish to do more than just push people away all of the time.

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Readers discover the meaning behind Trish’s actions and I when this was revealed, I was not too surprised. Afterall, she has become estranged from her family and there are several clues along the way that explain why Trish behaves in the way she does. It all reaches a climax once the baby is born but I resented the way Trish acts towards her mother. There are only good intentions, but Trish responds as if her mother is controlling and treating her like an invalid. And of course, we all know by this point that Trish can certainly stand on her own two feet.

I was keen to see how the story would end and what would happen to Trish after the birth of her baby. To be honest, I thought Scott was the most moral of all characters, more like a saint, and I was pleased that he remained throughout the story. He is the positive influence that Trish needs in her life and I think their first meeting triggered a change that was not just down to Trish’s pregnancy hormones. Scott is such a lovely character and so confident in himself; it is these qualities that Trish needs to adopt for herself.

I think I was expecting more of an upbeat read than what the reality became, especially as the cover seems to imply a fun story. However, I thought the plot weighted more towards an emotional drama and I for one, could not escape the sadness that haunted most of the story. Yes, it ends on a happy ever after, but the journey there was rather fraught to say the least.

Author bio:

Olivia Spooner has been writing fiction for twenty years and still feels she is only at the start of her writing journey. She lives in New Zealand with her husband, three children, a big hairy dog, and an overweight cat. Olivia is the proud owner of an independent bookshop where she happily shares her love of books with everyone who walks through the door. When not surrounded by books or creating stories, Olivia is most likely to be found at the beach or simply out walking – the more remote the location, the better. She loves a good meal and to the disbelief of her children adores a massaged kale and avocado salad. And chocolate. Just not together.Olivia Spooner 2022

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Instagram: @oliviaspoonerwriter


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With thanks to Head of Zeus for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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The 24 days of Books-mas!

With Christmas coming fast, the advent calendars are poised to be open – have you got yours? Chocolate delights no longer dominate the market and I love seeing all the different varieties available – from socks, to alcohol, beauty to cheese and everything in between, I think there is an advent calendar out there to suit everyone! Thinking about this gave me the idea of the 24 days of Books-mas, a celebration of all things books… of course. So, sit back and enjoy the next 24 days as I give you even more book reviews – the good, the bad and the ugly. I can’t promise 5 star reads everyday but hey, I read the books so you don’t have to. I hope that there will be some here that will go onto your reading pile or even your list to Father Christmas. And if that doesn’t work, maybe it will give you the opportunity to treat yourself this Christmas as a thank you for being so good. I hope you like the reviews that I have planned for you and, not to worry, you won’t be bombarded with daily festive reads, but plenty of other genres too.

Happy Books-mas

Mrs Brown

Women's fiction

What a lovely family

‘The Summer Escape’ – Hannah Ellis


The Summer Escape

Could it be more than just a holiday romance?

Single-mother Beth desperately needs a break.

Grieving the loss of her mother, she sets off to the Isles of Scilly with her five-year-old daughter, Ellie.

Their holiday cottage is utterly charming, but it’s meeting Trystan – the owner of the cottage – that makes Beth’s stay so perfect.

When their holiday fling starts to feel like something more, she knows she’s in trouble. Her life is in Plymouth, while he lives in London. Besides, Trystan has already admitted he’s not ready for a family.

Is he prepared to take a leap of faith for Beth and Ellie? And with the odds stacked against them, can they find a way to make their relationship last beyond the lazy days of summer?

Another sweet offering from Ellis, I am really enjoying this series set on the Isles of Scilly. The more I read about the charming Treneary family, the more I grow to love them. I am already looking forward to returning for book four next year!

This time it is the turn of Trystan who features in this romantic, summery story. Taking place just a few days after the last book concluded, I think you could easily read this on its own because Ellis focuses on the key romantic interest, with characters from the other stories merely orbiting the plot. Personally, I am glad I have read the others because I like getting the sense of the developing relationships, but this is just me.

Undoubtedly, the characters of Trystan, Beth and Ellie are all very likeable and I warmed to them immediately. Trystan’s family can’t get enough of young Ellie and I loved how they took the mother and daughter under their wings, from offering childcare for Beth to absorbing them into the Treneary family. It certainly felt very relaxed and idyllic and this is exactly how Beth feels – hence her extending her original week’s stay to the whole of the summer holidays.

The Summer Escape

As Beth and Trystan’s relationship grows closer, so does the inevitable return home. Both characters do not want to consider where their relationship will go after this point. Trystan lives in London; Beth and Ellie live in Plymouth where Ellie attends school and Beth is near her father in his retirement home. It is clear that they both have their roots but they cannot deny the pull that the Isles of Scilly creates. I found it interesting to see how the new couple overcome this challenge and also that Ellis does not really throw a crisis into their relationship. Unlike many romance reads, Beth and Trystan don’t fall out over an issue; there is no separating, massive conflict, they just gradually move to a new level with their relationship instead. This felt quite refreshing and I enjoyed there not being an obvious difficulty in the story.

I have enjoyed this series because it is sweet and relaxing – the setting particularly helps! It is an easy-going read and I love how warm and welcoming Trystan’s family are to whoever graces their doorstep. There’s always a happy ending with these books and for me, this provided just the right sort of escapism I was looking for.

Author bio:KDP_Hannah Ellis_3

Hannah Ellis spent many years working in childcare before deciding she’d like to write books. When she’s not busy writing she likes to read, drink tea and eat chocolate. She also enjoys yoga and jogging.

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With thanks to Rachel’s Random Resources for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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The next generation

‘Rainbow Valley’ – L. M. Montgomery


Rainbow Valley

Anne Shirley is grown up, has married her beloved Gilbert, and is the mother of six mischievous children. These boys and girls discover a special place all their own, but they never dream of what will happen when a strange family moves into an old mansion nearby. The Meredith clan is two boys and two girls—and a runaway named Mary Vance. Soon the Merediths join Anne’s children in their private hideout, intent on carrying out their plans to save Mary from the orphanage, to help the lonely minister find happiness, and to keep a pet rooster from the soup pot. There’s always an adventure brewing in the sun-dappled world of Rainbow Valley.

I very much missed my Anne Shirley in this next book. Montgomery is focussing on the next generation with this story and, as such, this one can certainly be read as a stand-alone from the rest of the Anne Shirley series. I think this may possibly explain why it is only now I have read this book after having the original series on my shelves for so long.

Reminiscent of the previous novel, this focuses on the adventures that the children are having. Playing in Rainbow Valley, Anne’s children are growing up and I got the impression that Montgomery had exhausted many more original tales and escapades. Instead, the attention shifts to their new friends, the manse children, who seem to get up to as many scrapes as Anne did herself! The Meredith children are motherless and it seems that no matter how hard they try, they seem to keep the village tongues wagging with their antics. You cannot help but feel sorry for their misdirection, especially when it is emphasised how detached their father, the minister, is from their upbringing. Bordering on being neglected, the children do their best to be good by their father – but this doesn’t always work out.

I quickly grew to dislike their new friend, Mary, and was relieved when she took more of a back seat to the story. I disliked her meddling ways and the air of superiority she holds over the children. In this character, I recognised many qualities from my own childhood and I think this is why I responded so negatively to her. A credit to Montgomery’s characterisation, I definitely preferred the innocent Meredith children who always seem to be so innocent and trying their hardest.

Like the previous novel, in the final chapter there are some sobering paragraphs. I am curious to understand whether these are an indication of what might happen in the last book. For sure, it helped to cement the book in history as several characters refer to the unrest in Europe; the First World War is on the horizon and it would seem that Anne Shirley and her family will not be immune to this tragic event in history.

I enjoyed reading this book and although I am excited to read the very last story of the series, I also feel a bit sad knowing it really is coming to an end. I have loved the characters and feel like I am a part of the family. That being said, I definitely missed Anne, Marilla and Mrs Lynde in these later stories, so I hope they may be resurrected for the final farewell.