Synopsis: She’s taking her life back, one step at a time…
Grace thought she had it all. Living in the beautiful village of Little Ollington, along with head teacher husband Mark and gorgeous son, Archie, she devoted herself to being the perfect mum and the perfect wife, her little family giving her everything she ever wanted.
Until that fateful day when she walked in on Mark kissing his secretary – and her perfect life fell apart.
Now she’s a single mum to Archie, trying to find her way in life and keep things together for his sake. Saturday nights consist of a Chinese takeaway eaten in front of the TV clad in greying pyjamas, and she can’t remember the last time she had a kiss from anyone aside from her dog, Becks…
Grace’s life needs a shake up – fast. So when gorgeous gardener Vinnie turns up on her doorstep, his twinkling eyes suggesting that he might be interested in more than just her conifers, she might just have found the answer to her prayers. But as Grace falls deeper for Vinnie, ten-year-old Archie fears that his mum finding love means she’ll never reconcile with the dad he loves.
So when ex-husband Mark begs her for another chance, telling her he’s changed from the man that broke her heart, Grace finds herself with an impossible dilemma. Should she take back Mark and reunite the family that Archie loves? Or risk it all for a new chance of happiness?
My Rating: 5/5 Continue reading
My Rating: 3/5
This debut novel was one I was really looking forward to as Amazon reviewers all seemed to be raving about it! With 244 Reviews and an overall score of 4.5/5 I was pretty sure that I would feel the same as the majority and love this book. Rachel and Ben are the main characters and are friends that share history. They both attended University together and formed a bond that seemed back then unbreakable. Fast forward ten years and things are very different. Rachel and Rhys have been together for years but as they near their agreed wedding, Rachel and Rhys split up. Add to the mix the re-appearance of Ben in Manchester and the story starts to warm up.
If I’m being 100% honest I struggled with the first few chapters and wondered whether I could get to grips with this character. Thankfully a few more chapters in I had started to warm to Rachel. The author manages to weave the past story into the current one seamlessly and it made it easy for the story to build layers which I liked. The one thing that is crystal clear is that Mhairi McFarlane has a brilliant sense of humour. Some of the lines that were in this book were very funny, but maybe because I wasn’t overly keen on Rachel, they lost their shine a little.
The story got a lot more interesting as the reader sees what has happened in the past and I certainly found it harder to put down, especially towards the end of the book. The ending was a little predictable but to be honest I can see why so many really enjoyed this book. I am putting my middle of the road attitude down to my difficulties with the characters. On the flip side of the coin, is Mhairi continues to write with this much humour and style it wont take her long to gain a following, and that will no doubt include me. Although I only gave it 3/5 I am actually really looking forward to the next novel and look forward to seeing what she can do the second time around!
My Rating: 4/5
The nice thing about debut novels is that your expectation is set pretty low as you have nothing previously to base your opinion on. When I got this book I was quite surprised as it was a lot smaller than what I thought I would get for a debut novel at a mere 280 pages. However, undeterred I made a start on this book and soon found myself in the thick of things in Fogas.
I found it a little slow to start with but a few chapters in and I was beginning to get a feel for the characters living in this small French village. We meet all sorts of different people from Josette, the owner of a small shop and makeshift bar, to Serge Papon the Mayor, to the postmistress Veronique. In addition to these after a few chapters we meet the English couple, Lorna and Paul, who are unwittingly the talk of the village. The characters were all easy enough to get a grasp of but if ound it difficult to get a feel for a few of them and Josette the shop owner as well as Christian, the deputy mayor, was another. I persevered and let the story tell itself, hoping that the non-connection with a few characters wouldn’t matter.
Luckily overall it didn’t have that much of an impact but left me feeling a little bit like something was missing. From the point of view of the story itself, it is something I can imagine has happened many times in many different small villages across the world. There is nothing like new people trying something new to get villagers worried. In the case of L’Auberge it is no different. We see the Mayor and his plotting revenge on the English couple and the struggle they have against all the local anger and foreign red tape.
I enjoyed the setting and think Julia Stagg did a grand job of describing what sounded like a very quaint village in France. The ending was wrapped up nicely and there was a romantic element for a couple of characters thrown in too.
I certainly enjoyed this book but my main gripe was that I didn’t connect with a couple of the characters and ended up feeling like the story was just that tad too short. Having said that, I really liked the style of writing and it was certainly an enjoyable read. The great thing about debut novels is that if you enjoyed it you have a solid start. After all her books can only get better and for that reason I am really looking forward to reading the next one.