Book Review: The Cornish Escape.

lilygrahamMy anguished howl of “nooooo” as I finished The Cornish Escape, by Lily Graham, was so loud I had to go and check I hadn’t woken Freya who was sleeping in the next room.

I simply couldn’t help it – it wasn’t that I didn’t like the ending so much as I wanted the book to carry on and on and on.

The description on the front cover “A beautiful summer romance to warm your heart” really doesn’t do it justice because it’s so much more than that.

For a start it’s two romances, albeit set in different eras, as well as a detective story with a hint of the paranormal all rolled into one.

I’ll tell you what else it is; a cleverly written, wonderfully romantic, compelling read, featuring love lost and found, set against a beautiful Cornish backdrop, which really comes to life on the page.

Here’s the blurb:

Victoria Langley’s world crumbles when her husband leaves, but she knows exactly where to go to mend her broken heart. The rugged shores of Cornwall will be her perfect sanctuary.

In the quaint, little village of Tregollan, nestled in the sea cliffs, Victoria is drawn to Seafall Cottage, covered in vines and gracefully falling apart. Inside she finds a diary full of secrets, from 1905.

Victoria is determined to unravel the diary’s mystery, but the residents of Tregollan are tight-lipped about Tilly Asprey, the cottage’s last owner. Just as she reaches a dead end, Victoria meets Adam Waters, the lawyer handling the cottage’s sale. He’s handsome, charming, and has a missing piece of the puzzle.

Tilly’s diary tells a devastating love story that mirrors Victoria’s own. Can Victoria learn from Tilly’s mistakes, and give herself a second chance at love? Or is history doomed to repeat itself?

I was caught from the very first, beautifully written, paragraph of this book and it just carried on getting better. My heart swelled as the love stories developed and then ached when both romances faltered. I was definitely invested – so much so that by the end I was ready to sell up and move to Cornwall.

The characters, past and present, felt like old friends quite soon into the story. Looking back now I can appreciate the plot is incredibly well-planned and probably took a lot of work but while reading it flowed so well, I was carried along as if floating on a summer sea breeze.

There were enough clues to maybe guess how it would end but it still came as a bit of a shock – hence my reaction. I realise now it was the perfect way to finish (no spoilers, promise) but I would have been quite happy with another chapter at the time.

Lily Graham’s first two books have definitely won a place in my TBR pile for the summer.

Format: Kindle.

Price: £1.99.

My rating: Four and a half stars.

Thank you to Bookouture (via NetGalley) for the ARC in return for an honest review.

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Book Review: A Life Without You.

ShariImagine you find a scrunched up piece of paper that obviously has some sort of picture printed on it.

You think you know what it is from the small bits you can see but it is only as you carefully unfold it and iron out each crease that the full, detailed image becomes clear.

That’s exactly what reading A Life Without You, Shari Low’s brilliant new book, felt like to me.

Each gripping chapter revealed just a little bit more – with a fair few surprises along the way.

Here’s the blurb:

Dee and Jen have been best friends since their days of teenage crushes, bad 90’s make-up and huge hair.

They’ve passed every milestone of their lives together and now in their thirties own a successful boutique, sharing a bond that is as strong as the closest of sisters.

Until one day everything changes.

Dee is gone, killed by a reckless driver, leaving Jen to face the harsh reality of a world without her.

Jen vows to honour Dee’s dreams and take care of everything and everyone she loved.

Until she realises that sometimes the only way forward is to let go of the past.

The book starts off at a cracking pace and never really lets up. Part of that is because, while it’s written in the first person, it switches between Jen, Luke (Dee’s husband) and Val (Dee’s mum) and that helps give it its energy – not to mention makes it nearly impossible to put down.

There are so many heartbreaking moments but also lots of heartwarming ones too.

An experienced author, it’s clear Shari Low is a talented writer who obviously puts a lot of work into her characters as they all seemed very 3D – so much so I wanted to reach out and hug them all at different points.

It is a great, very true to life, tale – one which deserves all the praise I’ve already seen being heaped upon it.

Format: Kindle.

Price: £2.48.

My rating: Five stars.

With thanks to publishers Aria (via NetGalley) for the ARC in return for an honest review.

Book Review: The Promise Girls.

promiseI let the sink overflow, I burnt dinner and I stayed up way too late several nights in a row while reading The Promise Girls by Marie Bostwick – and it was all worth it.

This rich tale by the New York Times bestselling author has many twists and turns – most of them unexpected – to keep the reader captivated.

It is also written with such warmth and colour that it almost feels like you’re part of it.

Have a read of the blurb before I say more:

Every child prodigy grows up eventually. For the Promise sisters, escaping their mother’s narcissism and the notoriety that came with her bestselling book hasn’t been easy.

Minerva Promise claimed that her three “test tube” daughters—gifted pianist Joanie, artistic Meg, and storyteller Avery—were engineered and molded to be geniuses.

In adulthood, their modest lives fall far short of her grand ambitions. But now, twenty years after the book’s release, she hopes to redeem herself by taking part in a new documentary.

Meg, who hasn’t picked up a paintbrush in years, adamantly refuses to participate, until a car accident leaves her with crushing medical bills.

While she recuperates in Seattle, the three sisters reluctantly meet with filmmaker Hal Seeger, another former prodigy. Like them, he’s familiar with the weight of failed potential.

But as he digs deeper, he uncovers secrets they’ve hidden from each other—and a revelation that will challenge their beliefs, even as it spurs them to forge their own extraordinary lives at last.

I’m fascinated by the question of ‘what next?’ for child prodigies. It certainly can’t be an easy road, especially if your mother is anything like Minerva Promise.

What we learn as the book goes on is that she is perhaps not quite the villain we think she is and I really enjoyed unpicking her past.

In fact, I really liked all of the characters, especially the sisters who are all strong-willed, creative and funny and have a lovely bond, despite of – or maybe because of – their dysfunctional childhood.

When it comes to their individual talents, I especially enjoyed seeing all of them find their joy – if not for the first time then for the first time in a long while.

There are some truly shocking revelations and near the end of the book it almost seems like a competition – I think Minerva wins, just.

It certainly makes for a book very hard to put down (maybe set an alarm if you’re cooking dinner at the same time).

Format: Kindle.

Price: £5.74.

My rating: Five stars.

With thanks to Kensington Books (via NetGalley) for the ARC in return for an honest review.