Saturday, 29 September 2018

Book tour: Coming Home to Maple Cottage - Holly Martin (Sandcastle Bay #3)


Isla Rosewood is creating a new life for herself and her sweet nephew Elliot in their cosy, yellow-brick family cottage, brimming with special memories. Living in Sandcastle Bay was never part of Isla’s plan but, after her brother Matthew’s tragic accident, her whole world changed as she unexpectedly became a mother to the little boy she adores so much. 

Leo Jackson was always known as Matthew’s fun-loving and wild best friend. But now Matthew is gone, it’s time to put his colourful past behind him. His role as Elliot’s godfather is the most important thing to him. And even though Leo and Isla are two very different people, they both want to give Elliot the childhood he deserves. 

As the three of them enjoy time together watching fireworks, baking cakes and collecting conkers, Isla begins to see a softer side to charming Leo, with his twinkling eyes and mischievous sense of humour. And, despite herself, she begins to fall for him. 

But does Leo feel the same way? Isla knows their situation is complicated but is it too complicated for true love… or will the year end with a happy new beginning for them all? 

My opinion
What a beautiful, moving, and addictive novel by Holly Martin, yet again. Holly has yet to write a book I don't love. I absolutely adore reading her books. Somehow though, 'Coming Home to Maple Cottage' had an extra spark I didn't even realize her books needed. Because even though I really loved reading the first 2 books in this series (and the series before this one), 'Maple Cottage' digs a bit deeper than the others. Elliot, as well as the issues of grief, loss, parenting and responsibilities his character introduces to this story, add an entire new layer to Holly Martin's writing. And I love it. "Sweet" is no longer enough to cover the feeling of this book. The love and attraction between all Holly's characters is always intense, but here again Leo and Isla surpass all the other romances in Sandcastle Bay and in previous series. 
The banter between the characters and the horribly embarrassing situations had me laughing out loud, I - again - had little patience for the meddlesome elderly villagers (but secretly loved them anyway), and fell a little bit more in love with Elliot with each chapter. His sweet and unbiased love and affection made me cry, as well as the wonderful and unconditional bonds of family and friendship.
Magical berry's, sand- and pumpkin sculptures, eclectic jewelry and fireworks, Sandcastle Bay is unique, meddlesome, a bit strange... but most of all a place I would love to live.


Read all about book #1 and #2 in the Sandcastle Bay series here:


About the author: 
Holly lives in a little white cottage by the sea. She studied media at university which led to a very glitzy career as a hotel receptionist followed by a even more glamorous two years working in a bank. The moment that one of her colleagues received the much coveted carriage clock for fifteen years’ service was the moment when she knew she had to escape. She quit her job and returned to university to train to be a teacher. Three years later, she emerged wide eyed and terrified that she now had responsibility for the development of thirty young minds. She taught for four years and then escaped the classroom to teach history workshops, dressing up as a Viking one day and an Egyptian High Priestess the next. But the long journeys around the UK and many hours sat on the M25 gave her a lot of time to plan out her stories and she now writes full time, doing what she loves.
Holly has been writing for 8 years. She was shortlisted for the New Talent Award at the Festival of Romance. Her short story won the Sunlounger competition and was published in the Sunlounger anthology. She won the Carina Valentine’s competition at the Festival of Romance 2013 with her novel The Guestbook. She was shortlisted for Best Romantic Read, Best eBook and Innovation in Romantic Fiction at the Festival of Romance 2014. She is the bestselling author of 18 books

Follow her on Twitter @HollyMAuthor

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Book tour: The Rufford Rose - Margaret Lambert

When gifted young woodcarver Cuthbert Watts is sent to assist in the building of a new hall in Lancashire in 1530 little does he realise what difficulties lie ahead. The Master builder, Abel, resents his presence, refusing to see his work whilst Abel’s apprentice, Will is a lazy, jealous young man who thwarts Cuthbert at every turn. Supported by his fellow workers Cuthbert perseveres and after saving his life, befriends the young son of the owner, another reason for Abel to hate him. What is the reason behind this animosity? What great secret dominates Abel and Will’s life to the extent that lives are threatened, jealousies grow and violence, arson, kidnap and murder are committed?

Set in the Lancashire countryside in the 16th century this is a story which combines the practical difficulties of building a Tudor Hall with the loves and jealousies of those involved. When will Abel realise the value of Cuthbert’s work, when will Will realise he is notwho he believes he is and can Cuthbert win the heart of the girl he loves. Follow Cuthbert through the trials and challenges of his new life and discover whether the hall can finally be completed.

My opinion.
I have to admit, seeing that Tudor rose alone would have convinced me to read this book. I'm a huge history geek with an even bigger soft spot for the Tudor era. Tough audience, maybe? But Margaret Lambert had me convinced from the very first chapters: she knows her history. The amount of detail and research that went into this book is astounding. I could almost smell the wood of the construction site through the pages. 
Cuthbert's story isn't just any guy's story you could copy paste into any other era by tweaking just a couple of details. His craft is described so beautifully and so detailed, as is the rest of the building process and crafts needed to complete it. I loved getting this "behind the scenes" insight into the construction of an historical building of this scale. If we're lucky, we get to visit a well preserved house or manor somewhere tucked away in the English countryside. Sure. But to actually understand it, the way it was constructed, the methods used, all the pieces that are needed to complete the puzzle, the priorities of both builders and owners,... it adds a priceless layer that's tough to get and which is so incredibly valuable.
As thorough and intricate Margaret Lambert's account of the building is, in the description of the personal relationships and emotions of the characters, it fell a bit flat for me. Not that those stories weren't beautiful, but I didn't feel as invested in those characters and their hardships as I would have wanted in a book as detailed as this one. That's the only thing that's keeping me from describing this book as "perfect". Because 'The Rufford Rose' is a brilliant, memorable read that makes for a very deserving addition to any history geek's collection.