Skin Deep by Liz Nugent

Skin Deep by Liz Nugent

 

34198503Publisher: Penguin Ireland

Publishing Date: 5th April 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 368

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

The sinister new novel from the No 1 bestselling author of Unravelling Oliver and Lying in Wait.

‘Once I had cleared the bottles away and washed the blood off the floor, I needed to get out of the flat.’

Delphine Hamilton is a fake. She has been living on the Côte d’Azur for ten years, posing as an English heiress. However, her alimony is running out, her looks are fading, and her wealthy lovers are fewer and further between.

Down to her last euros, and desperate to get out of her apartment, Delphine decides to spend the day at the Negresco where she is caught stealing another guest’s meal. He takes pity on her and invites her to a party.

The guests are young and beautiful and Delphine feels her age, and is achingly conscious of her worn out dress. But after a few lines of cocaine and multiple cocktails, she is oblivious to everything.

Hours later, as dawn is breaking, she wakes up on the floor of a deserted hotel penthouse. She makes her way home through the back streets.

Even before she opens the door she can hear the flies buzzing and she realizes that the corpse in her bedroom has already begun to decompose …

Liz Nugent’s new novel is the dark, twisted and shocking story of what takes Delphine from an island childhood in Ireland to ruination in a grotty flat in Nice.

Rating: three-stars

I’ve never read anything by Liz Nugent before and the premise to “Skin Deep” was brilliantly dark and intriguing, and I didn’t hesitate long before hitting “request” button. And this book started marvellously. It had me glued to the pages and the more I was reading the more I couldn’t believe what I’m seeing and with what a manipulative character we’re dealing with. Then the second part came and it was as if I’ve just started reading a different novel. Totally different in tone, felt too flat, somehow weird and I wasn’t sure what about.

It started with a murder, which is really not a spoiler, as it literally happens on the first pages. Then it quickly takes us back in the past and we get to know Delia’s background and history, and so I was guessing it’s taking us slowly to the act of the murder itself. But guys, it was mentioned again only on the last few pages. So the whole drama just simply disappeared, it didn’t feel in any way important and significant, it was something that happened and so what? It didn’t make me sad, or teary, it was then immediately explained who the victim is (though I’ve almost immediately guessed it) – as it wasn’t ever mentioned through the whole story, which is understandable, you just haven’t thought about it, so there was no tension and no questioning yourself who and why. It was really confusing and I’m still not sure what to do with it.

Liz Nugent has, of course, excelled here in the character’s portrayal and its development. She has created a manipulative and self – absorbed Delia that you just can’t warm to throughout the whole story, but I guess it was intended. I’ve never felt sympathy nor empathy to Delia and yes, I do understand where she was coming from, what with her dotting father all the time telling her she’s “The Queen” and that she’s gorgeous, and I mean when you hear it all the time as a child you’re prone to believe it, but then you grow up and heck, you start to think for yourself, right? And Delia O’Flaherty didn’t. Using and abusing people only because of the fact that you’re beautiful? Delia was like a reverse Midas – whatever she’s touched turned not into gold but into tragedy and drama. She was destructive and her actions were awful.
Delia was of course not the only character in the book but she has dominated the whole story. The other characters were more or less likeable but almost all of them fell quickly under her spell.

Altogether, “Skin Deep” was a bleak, disturbing read but I’m really glad I’ve read it. It was a read with a difference, and Liz Nugent’s writing style is vivid and addictive. This powerful read pushing the boundaries, evoked many dark emotions in me, as it itself was a dark, sinister tale.

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Our House by Louise Candlish

Our House by Louise Candlish

 

37416802Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publishing Date: 5th April 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 448

Genre: Mystery, Thriller

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

On a bright January morning in the London suburbs, a family moves into the house they’ve just bought in Trinity Avenue.
Nothing strange about that. Except it is your house. And you didn’t sell it.

For better, for worse.

When Fi arrives home to find a removals van outside her house, she is completely blind-sided. Trinity Avenue has been her family’s home for years. Where are all her belongings? How could this have happened? Desperately calling her ex-husband, Bram, who owns the house with her, Fi discovers he has disappeared.

For richer, for poorer.

The more Fi uncovers, the more she realises their lives have been turned upside by a nightmare of their own making. A devastating crime has been committed, but who exactly is the guilty party? What has Bram hidden from her – and what has she hidden from him?

Till death us do part.

Rating: five-stars

 

I am a big fan of Louise Candlish – she, like almost no – one else, can write gripping, dark and tense stories with twists that you never see coming. Her stories are clever and complex and never straightforward, and this is what I love – and this is why I was so excited for her newest release, “Our House”. This novel’s proofs are also one of the most brilliant ones, and just imagine my frustration when, deep into the story, I was trying to read and my daughter wanted to open and close the doors on the cover. If it were someone else, I’d bite their head off.

One day, Fiona Lawson arrives home to discover other people are moving in her house. Why? She has never sold it! Trinity Avenue has been her and her family’s house for years and there was no reason to sell it, so what’s happening right now? Her soon ex – husband isn’t answering his phone and he’s actually her only hope to explain things. Has he disappeared? What has Bram been hiding? Can they solve the mess?

I’ve never even heard about property – fraud to be honest, but I went into the book with an open mind, and well, after discovering what has happened, it all started to sound very plausible and, what’s worst, possible to happen! The novel was brilliantly well constructed. First we get to know Fi’s point of view, through her recorded podcast, and then Bram’s, through a word document, and so we slowly start to see what has really happened. It was all so easy to follow and there was never a moment of confusion, as everything was brilliantly sorted and logically structured. This alternating narrative works so great that soon I had a feeling I’m in the characters’ heads, living Fi’s life, being part of her world. This way of telling the story, this she said/he said, she did/he did absolutely fits the plot and the author uses it to its full potential.

The characters were proficiently and marveloussly portrayed, however they were not all so much likeable. I couldn’t shake off the feeling that Fi was too forgiving and too naive and yes, she was too whingy and self – centred, just like Toby said at the end. Nonetheless, you wanted to ask yourself what you would do in Fi’s situation, how would you react. It was so easy, thanks to the rich and descriptive writing, to feel her confusion, her fear. Bram was weak, and even the lengths he will go to to somehow solve the situation, his desperation and genuine sorrow and grudge couldn’t change my mind about him. I also couldn’t believe there was really nothing he could do about it – he probably could, he just didn’t want. All the same, nothing was of course so straightforward in this story and they both, Fi and Bram, made wrong choices, had their flaws and they just felt like normal, real people.

As much as I adored this story there were moments that it just dragged on too much, and not in a good way. It spoiled the reading for me but ultimately it didn’t affect me so much, as it is this kind of novel that you read holding your breath – you can’t believe the things that happens, you wonder how much Fi is going to still handle and the chain reactions, like the proverbial flutter of butterfly wings, quickly turns into an avalanche of lies, secrets and misunderstandings that is building up to a shocking outcomes that are going to change so many lives.

This story touches upon so many issues – property fraud, betrayal, lies and secrets, adultery, murder but it never feels too jammed, overcrowded. There were many twists and turns along the way and while some of them I guessed, the rest I haven’t seen coming, and it made the reading even more exciting. It focused mostly on the characters and their interactions. The author has so well captured all of their emotions and feelings and inner thoughts and filled this family drama full with very relatable and genuine domestic dilemmas. Dark and very detailed but I liked it – in this kind of books I just need to have everything clearly expounded.

Altogether, “Our House” was an exceptional psychological suspense, with a very unconventional end, when the author really and literally allows her readers to insert the end of this story by themselves. It was immaculately written, hooking and hard to put down. This is a story not to be missed, it’s unique, clever and brilliantly crafted and full of surprises. Highly recommended!

Love Among the Treetops by Catherine Ferguson / #BlogTour + Guest Post

Hi amigos, hope you’re doing great – it’s Friyay!  And Easter is coming! To put you in a right mood, and as it’s my turn on the Catherine Ferguson’s blog tour – we are celebrating the reelase of her new novel, “Love Among the Treetops” – I have a brilliant guest post from the lovely author herself. Put your feet high, pour yourself a glass of something bubbly and enjoy!

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Catherine Ferguson

 

 

Five Things I’ve Learned . . .

 

When you’re starting out on your writing journey, it’s very much a case of trying things out and seeing what works for you and what doesn’t. I’ve been writing for HarperCollins Avon for three years now, and during that time, I’ve learned a lot about the process of creating a book – and a lot about what works best for me:

           

I write all my notes in a notebook now.

I used to scribble ideas on scrap paper, but I found that as I’m not the most organised/tidy person in the world, when it came to finding the particular note I needed, it was frequently lost or buried in a pile of other ‘important notes to self’! So now, when I’m starting a new book, I buy a big notebook with a cheery/inspiring cover, and I make sure I write every idea in this book. That way, I can be sure I won’t lose anything vital.

 

First thing in the morning is my best time to be productive

I love early mornings, so maybe that’s why I seem to do my best work then. All I know is that if I have a looming deadline and need to be at my most productive, a sure fire way of making sure I get the required daily number of words under my belt is to make a cup of tea and write the first five hundred words as soon as I wake up (usually propped up against pillows in bed!) Achieving this before breakfast also gives me a huge psychological boost that can carry me on to even greater productivity that day.

 

A daily walk is essential

I’d suspected for a long time that taking a walk during the day did me good, but it’s only recently that I’ve realised it’s not only A Good Thing, it’s actually a no-brainer if I want to write well and think up great characters and plot twists! There’s something incredibly meditative about walking, and for me, it’s the best way to get the ideas flowing freely. So now I incorporate a walk into my writing day as an essential part of it.

 

I start with a basic idea and see where it takes me.

I tried, once, to plan out a book in detail before I started writing. I made a big wall chart and wrote down all the plot advances in little boxes. It looked very impressive. The trouble was, the end result bore very little resemblance to my carefully planned plot! So I’ve learned that the best way for me is to start with a skeleton of an idea, and then just start writing and see where the characters take me. Going with the flow works for me!

 

Most people write bad first drafts

I never realised that most first drafts are rubbish. I honestly thought it was just me. And at first, it used to really scare me, the jumbled mess that used to emerge. But I’ve learned to relax now about the rubbish first draft, because in every case (after a lot of editing) that jumbled mess has been transformed into a book I’m proud of. I used to waste so much time, labouring over my first draft, trying to get it right. I don’t any more!

FOLLOW THE BLOG TOUR:

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The Cafe at Seashell Cove by Karen Clarke / #BlogTour + #Extract

Hi guys! Hope you’re all doing well. Today we have a wonderful spring – finally! – the sun is shining and the sky is blue, and really, this extract that I’m going to post right now is from a book that fits this weather absolutely – it’s my part on Karen Clarke’s blog tour for her new release “The Cafe at Seashell Cove” and it’s a story with a lot of sunshine. Enjoy the extract, guys!

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Extract from Chapter 1 of The Café at Seashell Cove

I’d known my early return would come as a surprise to my parents.

What I hadn’t anticipated, on stepping into the brightly lit living room,

was the sight of my mother’s breasts in all their naked glory.

‘Cassie!’ She goggled at me over the back of the sofa, as guilty as a

teenager, while I tried to snap my jaw shut.

‘What… are you… please tell me you’re having a hot flush and

that’s why you’ve taken your top off.’ I clamped a hand over my eyes

to block out the sight of her rumpled hair and fiery cheeks. Not to

mention her naked breasts.

‘I’m not menopausal,’ she huffed, as if I’d just returned from a

longish walk and interrupted her favourite TV programme.

‘Of course you are. You’re fifty-eight,’ I argued. ‘It’s simple biology.’

She gave an exasperated tut, which wasn’t the sound I’d imagined

her making on seeing her beloved daughter return to the fold. On the

journey down, I’d shaped a scene where tears of joy and perhaps a bit

of crying featured, considering she hadn’t seen me for nearly a year.

(Skyping didn’t count.)

‘We weren’t expecting you until tomorrow, love.’ Dad’s voice was

accompanied by the sound of a zipper, and I let out a quiet moan.

Glancing through my fingers, I was treated to an eyeful of his greying

chest hair, as well as his receding head hair.

 ‘For god’s sake, you two.’ I turned my back, reaching for the dimmer

switch to reduce the overhead glare, listening to them scrabble about

for discarded clothing. It was bad enough that they’d copulated twice

before, to conceive my brother and me, but faced with the evidence that

they were still ‘at it’, nearly thirty years later, was a bit much on an

empty stomach. ‘It’s barely seven thirty,’ I grumbled.

‘You should have phoned.’ Mum sounded reasonable, and I turned,

relieved to see she’d put her top back on. ‘We would have postponed

our lovemaking—’

‘LA-LA-LA-LA-LA LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA,’ I sang, childishly

jamming my fingers in my ears, while my parents exchanged coy smiles,

and Dad pulled on his ancient Garfield T-shirt, flattening his hair to

his scalp. He’d started going grey in his thirties, and at fifty-nine was

a shade that Mum called Silver Fox.

‘You should be pleased your parents still find each other physically

attractive and like a cuddle before dinner,’ he said, when I’d unblocked

my ears, with the merry twinkle that made people instantly warm to

him. ‘Shouldn’t she, Lydia?’

‘I’ve no objection to you cuddling,’ I said. ‘It’s’—I flapped my

hand—‘the groping I can’t cope with.’

In response, Dad lunged for Mum while making kissy noises,

causing her to let out a girlish squeal. ‘Stop it, Ed!’ She pretended to

bat him away, and I wondered whether I’d fallen asleep on the train

from London to Devon and was, in fact, dreaming.

It would explain the slightly surreal feel the day had taken on, which

had begun with me standing on a packed Tube train that morning,

sleep-deprived after another uncomfortable night on Nina’s sofa bed,

reminded of a different morning, two months earlier: the morning I’d

met Adam Conway. Finding myself sardined against a tall, dark-haired

man, who’d smelt like the interior of a leather-seated car, I’d taken the

unusual step of acting on Nina’s advice to ‘be more proactive in the

man department’, by slipping a business card into his jacket pocket

with a pithy ‘Call me, some time’, accompanied by a flirty eye-twinkle

(which might have come across like a nervous tic, because of being tired

and rubbish at flirting). Unfortunately, my watch strap had snagged on

his pocket flap, causing his head to jerk down and his dark-chocolate

eyes to rest on me with a glimmer of amusement.

‘Are you trying to distract me while you steal my wallet?’ he’d

queried, his gaze sweeping over my unremarkable work suit, carefully

made-up face (copied from a popular beauty guru on YouTube), and

strands of hair escaping my never-perfected topknot. ‘Because I don’t

carry a wallet in my pocket.’

‘Only old men carry wallets,’ I’d managed, my cheeks hotter than

molten lava, before freeing myself and leaving the train two stops too

early, wondering why I couldn’t have apologised like a normal person

instead of blurting out something that probably wasn’t true. What did

I know about wallets?

I’d almost fainted when he called to ask me out to dinner, certain I

was punching way above my weight. But although his job in investment

banking was as far as you could get from the frivolous world of event

planning, I felt like I’d managed to impress him. It had been a shame

that our hectic work schedules meant we’d only been on a handful of

dates before I was fired, and that I’d probably never see him again…

If you have enjoyed this extract from Chapter One of Karen Clarke’s A Café at Seashell Cove,
Grab your copy here: myBook.to/TCASCSocial

 

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Last Letter Home by Rachel Hore

Last Letter Home by Rachel Hore

 

38350479Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publishing Date: 22nd March 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 560

Genre: Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 23.08.2018)

 

 

Synopsis:

From the bestselling author of A Week in Paris, and the Richard & Judy Bookclub pick A Place of Secrets, comes a gripping and moving story spanning 70 years, set in Italy and in Norfolk.

On holiday with friends, young historian Briony Andrews becomes fascinated with a wartime story of a ruined villa in the hills behind Naples. There is a family connection: her grandfather had been a British soldier during the Italian campaign of 1943 in that very area. Handed a bundle of letters that were found after the war, Briony sets off to trace the fate of their sender, Sarah Bailey.

In 1939, Sarah returns with her mother and sister from India, in mourning, to take up residence in the Norfolk village of Westbury. There she forms a firm friendship with Paul Hartmann, a young German who has found sanctuary in the local manor house, Westbury Hall. With the outbreak of war, conflicts of loyalty in Westbury deepen.

When, 70 years later, Briony begins to uncover Sarah and Paul’s story, she encounters resentments and secrets still tightly guarded. What happened long ago in the villa in the shadow of Vesuvius, she suspects, still has the power to give terrible pain …

Rating: four-stars

Rachel Hore is another author that I’ve heard many, many good things about but haven’t read her books – yet! I was truly excited after being approved to read “Last Letter Home” on NetGalley – I do love a good historical fiction, I do love a dual timeline and I loved this beautiful cover. And so, without further delay, I dived into the fictional world of love, drama and the aftermath of the WW2.

Being on holidays in Italy, historian Briony not only stumbles across a ruined villa in the surrounding area, a villa that has connections to her grandfather, who was stationed there in 1943, but is also being given some film reels and love letters. Reading them, she starts to feel desperate to discover the story of Sarah and Paul, who wrote the letters to each other. She doesn’t expect it, but here starts her journey full of secrets and discoveries, truths and lies.

This book was for sure beautifully written. I loved how Rachel Hore has knitted together the life in the pre – war English country, the aftermath of the war, family secrets and tragedies. I admit, it took me some time to get into a book, and there was no particular reason for it, it was just one of the things. It was a little confusing for me also, what with the sudden change in setting and the different tone which seemed as two different stories.

It was a great escapism that slowly unfolded as Briony started to piece together the story behind the letters and their writers. While mostly it was fast paced, there were moments that it dragged on a little for me and was losing the temperature. It also took me some time to warm to the characters and to actually make out who is who and how they are all related as we were presented with a varied, colourful cast of characters. Briony was really well fleshed out but my problem here was that I just simply couldn’t completely warm to her – she was reserved and I had a feeling I just can’t get into her head. I think that the wartime subplot, and the whole secret behind the letters, the relationship between Paul and Sarah were the better part of this book, I really do love historical fiction and this time it was a tale with a difference and it was really interesting to see all the repercussions and problems because Paul was German.

I really liked the way how the past and present, the WW2 parts and the present days, flowed effortlessly together. The Norfolk and Italy settings were so seamlessly brought to life, as all other parts as well, actually. It also shone through the pages how much time and effort went into research.

“Last Letter Home” was a complex, clever story full of secrets, lies and deception, and the author knows how to build tension. Rachel Hore’s writing is very descriptive and very colourful and it’s very easy to imagine the things she’s writing about. As I’ve already mentioned it, it was my first book by this author but it was a great story and here starts my adventure with other Ms Hore’s novel. Highly recommended!

The Stranger by Kate Riordan / #BlogTour

The Stranger by Kate Riordan

 

36476410Publisher: Michael Joseph

Publishing Date: 22nd March 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 320

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Historical Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Hardcover

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

ONE OF RED MAGAZINE’S TOP TEN BOOKS . . .

———-

Cornwall, 1940.

In the hushed hours of the night a woman is taken by the sea.

Was it a tragic accident? Or should the residents of Penhallow have been more careful about whom they invited in?

In the midst of war three women arrive seeking safety at Penhallow Hall.

Each is looking to escape her past.

But one of them is not there by choice.

As the threat of invasion mounts and the nightly blackouts feel longer and longer, tensions between the close-knit residents rise until dark secrets start to surface.

And no one can predict what their neighbour is capable of . . .

In a house full of strangers, who do you trust?

Rating: four-stars

“The Stranger” was my first novel by Kate Riordan and I was incredibly excited to finally, eventually get her novel in my greedy mittens – I’ve heard tons of great things about this author and it’s not a wonder that I wanted to see for myself what’s so special in her books. And I think that this story is a great start if you, like me, haven’t read Ms Riordan’s novels before.
The story follows three women of different ages, billeted in a house on Cornish coast in the 1940’s in Penhallow Hall, a house perched up on the cliffs. They were land girls, helping feed Britain during the Second World War when young farmers were away fighting. Jane is the youngest and she joined Rose and Diana as last, and it turns out she’s the member of the family owning the house, and it quickly becomes clear that there are some misunderstandings between her and the owners Ms Fox and her daughter Eleanor. Rose was married but her first loved lived at the island. And last but not least, Diana. The girl who’s meddling and stirring and doesn’t let sleeping dogs lie.

The book starts with Diana going missing and then takes us back in time, several weeks, and with each chapter that takes us closer to her disappearance, in a kind of a count – down, we get to know the characters, their backgrounds and history, and start to like or dislike them. I think the author painted Diana in such a way on purpose – a girl with two faces, a girl with a very vulnerable side to her and a girl who wanted everything to be about her, who wormed her way to a friendship, who meddled and used everybody and everything for her own ends. A girl who longed to be liked and accepted but also a girl that pushed people away. Very complex and complicated character and the author really well captured this diversity in her. However, I didn’t like her. I didn’t have compassion on her. I did get when she was coming from but the way she went through life just made me feel antipathy.

It was an incredibly descriptive novel – and I must admit, even though it was beautifully written, in such a gentle way with love to the smallest details, it made reading for me a little bit difficult. It has hidden all the action, put it in the background in my opinion, and it’s a pity, because it was a story with a brilliantly interesting storyline. However, it was also a novel that was hard to put down, guys.

“The Stranger” was a slow burner, but with brilliant descriptions and wonderfully developed characters with a depth and distinctive voices, a story that intertwined lives of different women. The author has managed to easily and effortlessly put all the frustrations, hopes and anger into words. This was a story full of secrets, some of them very dark, with a complex and ambitious storyline. The author had so beautifully captured the atmosphere of the uncertainty and mendacity. She also brought to life the beauty of Cornwall and the setting was one of the best things in this novel, you could so easily picture the sea, the village, the lighthouse. There were many turns on the way and the final twists were really interesting, though I’d say that, in comparison to the tense built – up, it felt too rushed. But altogether, this novel was very interesting and different and I highly recommend it to you all.

 

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The House of Hopes and Dreams by Trisha Ashley / #BlogTour

The House of Hopes and Dreams by Trisha Ashley

 

37823355Publisher: Bantam Press

Publishing Date: 8th March 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 309

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 31.05.2018)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

This novel from the Sunday Times bestselling Trisha Ashley will more than satisfy romantic comedy fans. And it also contains recipes!

When Carey Revell unexpectedly becomes the heir to Mossby, his family’s ancestral home, it’s rather a mixed blessing. The house is large but rundown and comes with a pair of resentful relatives who can’t be asked to leave.
Still, newly dumped by his girlfriend and also from his job as a TV interior designer, Carey needs somewhere to lick his wounds. And Mossby would be perfect for a renovation show. He already knows someone who could restore the stained glass windows in the older part of the house…

Angel Arrowsmith has spent the last ten years happily working and living with her artist mentor and partner. But suddenly bereaved, she finds herself heartbroken, without a home or a livelihood. Life will never be the same again – until old friend Carey Revell comes to the rescue.

They move in to Mossby with high hopes. But the house has a secret at its heart: an old legend concerning one of the famous windows. Will all their dreams for happiness be shattered? Or can Carey and Angel find a way to make this house a home?

Heart-warming, witty and quirkily original, Trisha Ashley’s THE HOUSE OF HOPES AND DREAMS will delight both old fans and new readers alike.

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Trisha Ashley always takes us on brilliant, bumpy rides in her books and this time, in her newest offer, “The House of Hopes and Dreams”, it’s not different, as the main character tries to overcome a personal tragedy. This story is very artistic and there is a wonderful, creative side to it. This book has also one of the most gorgeous and inviting covers ever – it’s simply beautiful and I could look at it all the time. Hell, I’ll probably enlarge it and hang it on the wall, so magnificent is this.

“The House of Hopes and Dreams” follows two main characters, Carey and Angel. Carey is just recovering from a bike accident when he finds out that he’s just inherited a house from his uncle. It’s just in time, as he’s only lost his job as a house renovation program’s TV presenter.
Angel has just lost everything, literally. Her partner has died and she’s left with no house and no job, as he’s never managed to write his will and everything is inherited by his son who hates Angel. Both Carey and Angel are looking for a fresh start and as they’re old friends, Carey offers Angel a place to live and work, a use of the workshop on the property and to turn the house into a lovely place. The house, however, is a venue full of its own secrets, and it also comes with a bad – tempered housekeeper and a gardener. Will Carey and Angel be able to find out the residence’s past and move to a better future?

Trisha Ashley always creates unique and eclectic characters. I really like characters like Angel and Carey – creative and full of ideas. Also, they were likeable and believable. At the beginning I felt really sorry for Angel, then I felt somehow annoyed by her but altogether she was a woman who could stand for herself and take matters in her own hands. At the beginning, Angel just didn’t put a fight and let the things just happen, and it took a lot of time before she turned into the feisty, quirky typical Trisha Ashley’s heroine. Yes, it exasperated me but I think that what mostly made me so angry was the fact that she actually couldn’t put any fight because she was hard done by others and by circumstances, and probably it was this powerlessness that annoyed me so much.
Carey was easygoing and uncomplicated and it really made a difference to have such a character for once.

The narration in this story changes between present and past. We get to know the history of Mossby, the house that’s recently been inherited by Carey (and his story as well), in the brilliant area of Lancashire, told through the diary entries from over 100 years ago – this was a diary of a famous stained glass artist Jessie Kaye, who lived in Mossby this many years ago. They were a great, albeit brief, glimpses into her life, full of surprises and secrets and I liked them very much – and the story of Angelica, who’s suddenly found herself homeless and jobless after her partner’s death.

The stained glass thread was also very unique and you could see how many research has gone into bringing it to life so well but it was just too much for me, I really don’t need so many detailed info about stained glass, especially in such a story. There was something that I can’t put my finger on that didn’t work for me in this book. It was a feel – good novel and theoretically it had all the elements of a brilliant chick – lit with a twist and depth, but practically it didn’t deliver for me. Probably it was the case of “it’s not you, it’s me”, so please do not feel put out by my words and just read this book for yourself. There was really nothing wrong with it, it was a lovely, warm story, only for me “The House of Hopes and Dreams” was a book with stronger and weaker moments. and also the book had moments that it just dragged on and on, and also felt slightly repetitive. The parts about Carey’s plans, about Angel setting up to her new life and chances, they were lovely, but also they dragged and they weren’t as suspenseful. But also, there were many fascinating secrets, it was rich in adorable descriptions and it was complex, multi – layered tale and with a mystery running through it. I can only highly recommend this book to Trisha Ashley’s fans.

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