Escape to the Country by Alison Sherlock
Publishing Date: 1st May 2018
Series: Welcome to Willow Tree Hall #2
Source: Received from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review, thank you!
Number of pages: 458
Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction, Romance
Everyone is running away from something – but will an escape to the countryside suit everyone? Full of warmth, laughter tears and heartache. Perfect for the fans Jill Mansell and Carole Matthews.
Journalist Eleanor McCartney leads a glamorous life in London exposing the sordid secrets of famous celebrities for Hot Gossip! magazine. But her perfect life is a sham. So when her world collapses, she has to reluctantly head home to her mum and friends in the quiet country village of Cranley.
Willow Tree Hall is still in the midst of extensive renovations under the careful eye of Eleanor’s best friend Annie and her fiancé, record producer and future Earl of Cranley, Sam Harris.
With a recording studio now in the grounds of the estate, it should be the perfect place for global singing sensation Tom Kingsley to hang out. But Tom is burnt out after a gruelling worldwide tour and is escaping the paparazzi after yet another scandal. Eleanor cannot believe her luck. A story on the world’s biggest superstar would be the ticket that gets her job and glamorous life back in London.
But soon both Eleanor and Tom begin to fall under the spell of Willow Tree Hall. Eleanor begins to wonder whether she can really betray his trust. And does she really want her old life back or is home really where the heart lies?
As a heatwave soars, friendships are made, truths are told and, with the help of a stray dog, perhaps love can be found as hearts are healed. By escaping to the country, maybe Eleanor and Tom have found their new beginning.
This is the second book in the “Welcome to Willow Tree Hall” series and it introduces us to new characters but also some of the old ones that we got to know in the previous book are on the scenes as well. The first book, “A House to Mend a Broken Heart”, introduces us to Annie, the housekeeper to an Earl of Cranley, Arthur. Even though “Escape to the Country” is a sequel, it focuses on new characters who also fall under the spell of the beautiful Willow Tree Hall, and it can be read as a stand – alone.
After eight years of doing her job as a celebrity journalist Eleanor gets herself fired. Moreover, she also breaks up with her boyfriend, so the only thing that she can do right now is come back home to help her mum who’s broken her leg. Only a good story about a big name could get her back in the game but well, it’s not London where she’s living now, right? It’s only a tiny village. However, as it turns out, a big rock star lives currently at Willow Tree Hall, and who runs it? Only Eleanor’s best friend Annie! Is Eleanor going to revive her career with the unwitting help of Tom?
The characters were – again – really well developed. As I have already mentioned, there were characters from the previous book, Annie and Sam, Arthur and Rose, and it was really nice to get a glimpse into their lives as well, to see what they’re doing after their stories ended, and they didn’t disappoint, especially Rose with her antics and a corset – and they still had a story to tell, which was a double bonus. I liked how down to earth Alison Sherlock has created her celebrity. Tom was very understated and I liked his approach, he loved his music, and writing songs and he didn’t abuse his position. Eleanor is a celebrity journalist and her career is actually on a bad patch and well, she’s fired. Only a good story can save her career and as hers and Tom’s paths accidentally cross she hopes it could be his story.
It was a story about rediscovering the important things in life, to finding the real sense and depth of life and what’s important is usually hidden deep under the surface. It was warm and light – hearted, for me personally though the book could be much shorter. There were much too many moments for my liking that were dragging on and I just had a feeling that many chapters were added only to make the book longer, as there was nothing in particular happening, they were telling the same thing in other words. Nevertheless, it was a nice enough read about families, relationships and values, about realising what is really important and that sometimes it’s better to give up. It also touched upon second chances and new beginnings, so there was really something for all readers to find.It was funny yet wise, and I really liked this mix, it was perfectly blended. Sure, it was predictable, you knew from the very beginning how it’s going to end and what twists are going to try to complicate the characters’ lives but sometimes it’s nice to read such uncomplicated – and I mean in a very positive way – tale of friendship and values. Recommended!
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