Posted in Book Review, Christmas Read, Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, Friendship, Romance

Virgin River Series Robyn Carr #Reviews @RCarrWriter @MillsandBoon #BookReview #NetFlix #Romance #SmallTown #StartingOver #Loss #Grief #Friendship #holidayreads #AVirginRiverChristmas #ShelterMountain #MillsandBoonInsiders

I received a copy of these books from Mills and Boon in return for honest reviews.

Shelter Mountian

Discover Paige and Preacher’s Story…

In love, some people are worth fighting for…

For the second time in a year a woman arrives in the small town of Virgin River trying to escape the past.

John “Preacher” Middleton is about to close the bar when a young woman and her three-year-old son come in out of the wet October night. An ex-marine who has seen his share of pain, Preacher knows a crisis when he sees one and this woman is certainly frightened and in need of help. But Preacher’s instinct to protect is more than an engrained sense of duty, for Paige Lassiter has stirred up emotions in him — emotions that he has never before allowed himself to feel.

When Paige’s ex-husband turns up in Virgin River and secrets are revealed, Preacher knows his own future hangs in the balance. But if there’s one thing the marines has taught him, it’s that some things are worth fighting for…

My Thoughts… 5* #Review

The second book in the Virgin River series is Preacher and Paige’s story. It’s an emotional and heartfelt tale of domestic abuse, courage, and love. The book’s focus is Preacher and Paige, but there are other storylines and familiar characters integrated with the main story bringing the characters and setting to vibrant life.

This story tackles contemporary issues with sensitivity and immerses the reader in the story. If you are a fan of the TV series, get to know the characters and their lives in depth by reading the books. I enjoyed the TV series more, after reading some of the books.

A Virgin River Christmas – Book 4

A Christmas Miracle in Virgin River

Last Christmas Marcie Sullivan said a final goodbye to her husband, Bobby. This Christmas she’s come to Virgin River to find the man who saved his life, and gave her three more years with him. Fellow marine Ian Buchanan dragged Bobby to safety in Fallujah four years ago then disappeared. Since then, Marcie’s letters to Ian have gone unanswered.

When Marcie tracks Ian to the tiny mountain town of Virgin River she finds a man haunted by his past and afraid to look to his future. Not easily scared off Marcie pushes her way into Ian’s reclusive life to see beyond his pain to the man he once was. The man he can be again.

Ian doesn’t know what to make of the determined young woman who forces him to look into the painful past and, what’s worse, the uncertain future. But it is, after all, a season of miracles and maybe, just maybe, it’s time to banish the ghosts and open his heart.

My Thoughts… 4* #Review

This story focuses on Marcie a recent widow and Ian, a marine who despite his bravery gives up on his career and life to become a recluse in the mountains near Virgin River.

There are appearances from Virgin River regulars, but this is a story of healing and love between the two newcomers.

This is a gently paced, emotional and festive story. Marcie and Ian build a relationship that moves from animosity to understanding in a remote mountain setting.

It highlights the effect of war on veterans, a recurrent series theme, and also shows how a caring community helps everyone within it,

This is a heartwarming, romantic story which resonates.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Family Drama, Friendship, Romance

Return to Virgin River Robyn Carr 5*#Review @RCarrWriter @MillsandBoon #BlogTour #BookReview #NetFlix #Romance #SmallTown #StartingOver #Loss #Grief #Friendship #ReturnToVirginRiver #Author #MillsandBoonInsiders #paperback

Struggling with grief after the death of her mother, successful author Kaylee Sloan needs a distraction, to come to terms with life and meet her looming deadline.

With Christmas approaching, Kaylee rents a cabin in Virgin River. She knows the isolation will help her writing and as she drives north through the mountains she immediately feels inspired. Until she arrives at a building that has just gone up in flames. Devastated, she heads to Jack’s Bar to plan her next steps. The local bar is the heart of the town and once she crosses the threshold, she’s surprised to be embraced by people who are more than willing to help a stranger in need.

Welcomed by those in Virgin River, Kaylee starts to see her life in a new light. And as she becomes more involved in the town and the people in it, especially local artist and dog trainer Landry Moore, Kaylee realises she may have found her peace. As Christmas approaches, Kaylee’s dread turns to wonder. Because there’s no better place to mend a broken heart than Virgin River.

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Mills and Boon in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Kaylee returns to Virgin River to finish her latest novel and survive Christmas without her mum. An unexpected event forces her to accept the communities help and leads her life, in an unforeseen direction.

The story is relatable with easy to empathise characters in most cases. The animal characters add a heartwarming dimension, and the romance is slow-burning with conflict and a satisfying conclusion. Bereavement and moving on after loss are explored in this story positively and sensitively. Whilst Christmas is not the predominant theme in this book there is a festive twist, as the inhabitants give Kaylee new Christmas memories and show her the true meaning of Christmas.

This is a character-driven story focusing on Kaylee and Landry who both have life-changing emotional journeys to make when they meet. The cast of characters will be familiar to those who follow the series but to new readers, they soon become friends too.

If you enjoy small-town romance with a realistic edge and supportive community, this is a series worth reading.

Read my review of Virgin River

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Friendship, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Literary Fiction, Romance

When the Music Stops Joe Heap 5*#Review @Joe_Heap_ @harperfiction @HarperCollinsUK #literaryfiction #music #love #life #loss #uplit #serendipity #BookReview #BlogTour #WhentheMusicStops @RandomTTours @fictionpubteam @flisssity

This is the story of Ella.
And Robert.
And of all the things they should have said, but never did.

‘What have you been up to?’
I shrug, ‘Just existing, I guess.’
‘Looks like more than just existing.’
Robert gestures at the baby, the lifeboat, the ocean.
‘All right, not existing. Surviving.’
He laughs, not unkindly. ‘Sounds grim.’
‘It wasn’t so bad, really. But I wish you’d been there.’

Ella has known Robert all her life.

Through seven key moments and seven key people their journey intertwines.
 
From the streets of Glasgow during WW2 to the sex, drugs and rock n’ roll of London in the 60s and beyond, this is a story of love and near misses.

Of those who come in to our lives and leave it too soon.

And of those who stay with you forever…

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Harper Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This is a beautifully written story of life, love, loss and serendipity. Music and the number seven define the parameters of this story which explores Ella’s life and her lifelong love of Robert. The writing is lyrical, as Ella revisits her past at seven pivotal times and introduces seven characters who left their emotional mark on her life.

The flashbacks are vivid and written with historical details and insight. They immerse the reader into the story and make it believable. Throughout, Ella is authentic and flawed. Her mistakes are a reflection of her humanity, and they make you consider your life and choices. The love story is gentle and tragic, but this is real love, and it’s ending is worthy of the angst.

I read this in a day and enjoyed it for its originality, realism and supernatural twist.

Joe Heap

Joe Heap was born in 1986 and grew up in Bradford, the son of two teachers.

His debut novel The Rules of Seeing won Best Debut at the Romantic Novel of the Year Awards in 2019 and was shortlisted for the Books Are My Bag Reader Awards.

Joe lives in London with his girlfriend, their two sons and a cat who wishes they would get out of the house more often.

A note from Joe:
At a summer season in Ramsgate, 1959, two ice skaters held a party. My grandfather, a Glaswegian saxophonist who would rather have gone to the pub, was convinced by a comedian on the same bill to come along. My grandmother, another one of the ice skaters, sat down next to him and spilt her drink in his lap. Though she has since denied it, her first words of note to him were ‘Oh no, not another Scot.’

Nobody could have guessed how much would spin off that moment, myself and this book included.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, Friendship, Motivational, Romance

Life After You Sian O’Gorman 5* #Review @msogorman @BoldwoodBooks @rararesources #boldwoodbloggers #BlogTour #BookReview #Love #Loss #Bereavement #Family #Romance #Friendship #Motivational #Heartwarming #SundayThoughts #LifeAfterYou

Meaningful and moving, a beautiful story with life-affirming qualities.

Milly Bryne’s world came crashing down when she lost her beloved Dad and boyfriend in a matter of weeks.
Losing her Dad has broken her family. Losing her soul mate made has made her give up on life and love.
After swerving from stability to chaos to despair, Milly finally believes she has her life back on track when the unexpected return of a familiar face to Ireland throws her life once more into a spin. Milly is forced to decide if her new life is the one for her, or if there is another path that will bring even greater riches of joy, excitement and fun into her world. Life just isn’t worth living if your heart isn’t in it?

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

I always love reading a book written by a true storyteller and this one of those. Milly is not coping, no one would know, but she’s still crippled with grief after losing her father five years ago, has a ruthless career that demands all her time and offends her moral code and was abandoned by her soulmate at the lowest point in her life. When her old lover returns, it forces her to look at her life and decide what she truly wants it to be.

Milly is a likeable and relatable protagonist. You want her to overcome her anxiety, learn to live with her grief and be happy. A diverse cast of characters both hinder and support Milly in this quest. Everyone is authentic and adds something to this enjoyable story.

The story explores how Milly and her family members experience, both anxiety and grief believably.

The story is heartbreaking and humorous in equal measure but ultimately heartwarming.

Extract from Life After You Sian o’Gorman

Chapter One

A low hum of chatter, the odd bray from the over-inebriated, the tinkling of Cole Porter from the grand piano in the corner, the soft lighting, the waft of the kind of perfume that hadn’t been bought as an after-thought in Duty Free, the pop of the champagne bottles. Siobhán held up her glass of fizz. ‘I could get used to this,’ she said, putting on a posh voice. ‘I may insist on always socialising in the Shelbourne.’

It was early April and there was a touch of spring in the air and we were both a little over-excited. It was a Tuesday which was enough to celebrate on its own, but we were at the launch of a new development for my boyfriend’s property company and although Ryan and I had been going out for three months, he and Siobhán were yet to meet.

She’d already peered across the room at him as he shook hands with and chatted to some of the other guests. ‘He’s handsome,’ she said, approvingly. ‘The kind of cheekbones that make him look like he’s sucking on a lemon or an eighties popstar.’

Siobhán and I had been best friends since our third year of high school when we both realised we shared a hatred of hockey and a love of talking to each other. We’d lived with each other many times over the years, her moving in with me when my then boyfriend, Darragh, left me five years earlier. Her partner, George, was often to be found on our sofa – normally asleep, wrecked from his early starts in a bakery.

Siobhán’s arm darted out to nab a handful of canapés as a tray bobbed past our heads. She handed one to me. ‘Being a corporate lawyer, you probably eat like this all the time,’ she said, mouth full, ‘expense-account lunches…’

‘I’m lucky if I get ten minutes to buy a sandwich. Normally, it’s just me and Catriona working through.’ Catriona was my boss, one of the partners at my law firm McCoyMcAvoy. I’d worked there since getting onto the graduate scheme, and had slowly made my way up to being junior to the firm’s only female partner. As corporate lawyers, we bent the rules to nearly breaking point, discovering legal loopholes and building cases so rock-solid that we always ensured our clients got their way.

‘Lunch is the most important meal of the day,’ Siobhán reminded me.

‘I thought it was breakfast.’

She held up a canapé. ‘No, I forgot. Nibbles and snacks are the best meal of the day.’ She grinned at me. ‘Can’t live without snacks.’

‘I’d die.’

‘We’d die together for the want of a good snack… talking of which, these are very nice, very nice indeed!’

Siobhán was small, with long, waterfall-wavy red hair, and always wore bright red lipstick. I was tall, with shoulder length light brown hair which I tied back for work, with minimal make-up. She wore long skirts and chunky cardigans and dangly earrings, whereas I couldn’t remember the last time I wore anything that wasn’t sensible. I couldn’t remember the last time I had done something that wasn’t sensible. But, then again, I was the one who’d signed up to be a lawyer and being sensible was part of the deal. Except, I wouldn’t mind some fun. It was exactly why I insisted on Siobhan coming tonight. It was at least something.

Sian O’Gorman

Sian O’Gorman was born in Galway on the West Coast of Ireland, grew up in the lovely city of Cardiff, and has found her way back to Ireland and now lives on the east of the country, in the village of Dalkey, just along the coast from Dublin. She works as a radio producer for RTE.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Friendship, Romantic Comedy

Bride Squad Runaway Caroline Grace-Cassidy and Lisa C Carey @CGraceCassidy 3* #Review @LisaCCarey1 @bwpublishing #BrideSquadRunaway @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours

Ava O’Hara is finally marrying hunky Simon, the love of her life. The wedding dress is on, the make-up is done, the bridesmaids are ready and the guests are eagerly awaiting her big moment. Then, as she’s just about to walk down the aisle on what should be the happiest day of her life, she discovers a shocking secret about Simon. In utter disbelief, Ava makes a quick getaway – rescued by her loyal Bride Squad!

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from the publishers in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This is a new take on the runaway bride trope. It focuses on the runaway bride and her two friends. Ava ignores the signs things aren’t right in her relationship until the wedding day when there’s a revelation she can’t ignore. She runs from her wedding with her two best friends on a life-affirming road trip around Ireland.

There are angst laughter and romance in this story, which lets the women get to know each other again and realise why they are friends. A lighthearted tale full of emotion which will resonate with its readers.

Caroline Grace-Cassidy and Lisa C Carey
Image Credit IFTA’s 2016 No Reproduction fee © Michael Chester

Writer and actress Caroline Grace-Cassidy is the author of 7 novels. She co-owns Park Pictures, with whom she has written and directed 7 short films. Caroline is a regular panelist for The Elaine Show on Virgin Media One and contributes to Women’s Way, Irish Country and Weekender Magazine. She lives in Dublin.

Lisa C Carey has been a celebrity handler, screenwriter, Eurovision jury member, and green card lottery winner. She has survived earthquakes, dug her way through a glacier, and lived on a remote island in Fiji. Born and raised in Dublin, Lisa currently lives in Los Angeles. Bride Squad Runaway is her debut novel.

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Lisa C. Carey Twitter Instagram

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Christmas Read, Festive Read, Friendship, Romance

A Perfect Paris Christmas Mandy Baggot 5*#Review @mandybaggot @Aria_Fiction @HoZ_Books #Festive #Romance #Friendship #Christmas #Paris #BlogTour #BookReview #FridayReads #SecondChances #Serendipity

United in grief. Pushed apart by tragedy.

 Keeley Andrews knows more than anyone that you only live once. So when she receives an invitation to spend two weeks in Paris, all expenses paid, she jumps at the chance.

Ethan Bouchard has had the worst eighteen months of his life. He’s ready to give up on everything, including his hotel chain. So when he meets Keeley, it simply isn’t the right time.

As Keeley and Ethan continue to bump into each other on the romantic Parisian streets, they can’t help but wonder whether this is fate telling them to let go of the past and leap into the future…

Head to Paris this Christmas and fall in love under the lights of the Eiffel Tower with best-selling author, Mandy Baggot.

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I received a copy of this book from Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts

This is no ordinary festive romance, but it fills you with emotion and goodwill. I love serendipitous romance, and this is what we have here, but it’s only a fraction of the story which explores, loss, living life to the full, and friendship against a festive Paris setting.

Sensitively told and well-researched this story takes Keely to Paris for a life-changing meeting. It’s an emotional read with many characters whose stories are intricately woven together into a lovely festive story.

This is a must-read for the festive season.

Mandy Baggot

Mandy Baggot is an international bestselling and award-winning romance writer. The winner of the Innovation in Romantic Fiction award at the UK’s Festival of Romance, her romantic comedy novel, One Wish in Manhattan, was also shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association Romantic Comedy Novel of the Year award in 2016. Mandy’s books have so far been translated into German, Italian, Czech and Hungarian. Mandy loves the Greek island of Corfu, white wine, country music and handbags. Also a singer, she has taken part in ITV1’s Who Dares Sings and The X-Factor. Mandy is a member of the Society of Authors and lives near Salisbury, Wiltshire, UK with her husband and two daughters.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, Friendship, Literary Fiction, Romance, Travel

Displacement Anne Stormont 5*#Review Rachel&Jack: The Skye Series @writeanne @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours #motivational #Displacement #Love #Loss #BookReview #BookTour #TravelTuesday #Skye #Israel

Divorce, the death of her soldier son, and estrangement from her daughter, leave Hebridean crofter, Rachel Campbell, grief-stricken, lonely and lost.

Forced retirement leaves former Edinburgh policeman Jack Baxter needing to find a new direction in life.

After Rachel and Jack meet on a wild winter’s night in the most dramatic circumstances, an unlikely friendship begins, despite their very different personalities. However, their feelings for each other gradually go beyond friendship – something neither of them feels able to admit. And, when Rachel leaves to go on a life-changing journey to the Middle East, it seems unlikely their relationship will go any further.

Can Rachel give her heart to Jack?

Can Jack trust himself not to break it if she does?

Set against the contrasting and dramatic backdrops of the Scottish island of Skye and the contested country of Israel-Palestine, Displacement is a story of courage and love – where romance and realism meet head on.

Displacement is the first of the three books in the Rachel & Jack Skye Series.

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Displacement is an addictive emotionally satisfying read, from the stark beauty of Skye to the richness of the Israeli setting and the captivating, relatable characters.

Rachel’s life finally implodes after her mother’s death. Still reeling from her husband’s infidelity, her son’s death destroys her, and her daughter’s anger leaves her believing that life is over. Jack retired after a health scare is following a dream in Skye. He misses his career and wonders if his relationship with a married woman is his only choice.

Jack and Rachel have a serendipitous meeting, but have they met for a reason?

The characters are authentic and easy to empathise. Rachel comes to terms with devastating loss and learns to forgive herself for events beyond her control. Israel is enlightening, and the setting and political climate explored well.

The dynamic between Rachel and Jack is believable, in an engaging heartwarming read of loss and love.

Anne Stormont was born in Scotland and although she has travelled all over the world – including a teaching exchange to South Africa, four trips to Australia and several visits to the Middle East – it’s where she still lives.

She began making up stories as a child in order to entertain her four wee sisters. But as an adult, being busy with motherhood and working as a teacher, it took a long time and a mortality wake-up call for her to get that first book written.

She’s a compulsive crossworder, yoga practitioner, avid reader, keen walker and enthusiastic gardener. She can be a bit of a subversive old bat, but she tries to maintain a kind heart. She also loves tea, penguins and being with her grandchildren.

Change of Life was her first novel and she has since published three more. Her books are all set in Scotland and are contemporary romances where the main characters may be slightly older but are not necessarily wiser.

You can find out more about Anne and her books at her Website 

Posted in Blog Blitz, Book Review, Family Drama, Friendship, Romance

Love on the Rocks Elsie McArthur 4*#Review @ElsieMcarthur @rararesources #Romance #love #loss #TheHebrides #Scottish PublicationDay #IslandLife #BlogBlitz #BookReview #LoveontheRocks

Escaping a difficult childhood, unhappy marriage and dead-end job, Rachel McIntyre has escaped to the tiny Hebridean island of Inniscreag in search of a new beginning.

Taking a job as the manager of the local distillery, she’s just settling into her new life when the elderly, eccentric owner dies, unexpectedly leaving her two hundred year old family legacy in Rachel’s inexperienced hands.

Can she keep the small, community business alive in the face of a takeover attempt from a major multinational corporation? And can she resist the charms of the flirtatious, attractive company lawyer who arrives on the island to persuade her to sell up?

Join Rachel and the quirky inhabitants of Inniscreag – along with a couple of unexpected arrivals – in this funny, heartwarming tale about love, loss and having the courage to start over.

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I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Inniscreag may be a fictional Hebridean Isle and community, but it is both believable and engaging and provides the perfect setting for this story of community, friendship love and loss. It follows Rachel’s attempts to save the local distillery from the corporate world whilst coping with her attraction to the company lawyer Duncan. There’s family drama, secrets, and conflict over the estate of Edith, the distillery’s former owner.

This is an emotional story full of angst. Rachel battles with the emotions caused by her childhood and marriage. The story is both claustrophobic and heartwarming accurately reflecting the insular, but comforting nature of this remote community. All the characters have a story, and they draw the reader into their community, making you care what happens to them.

Elsie McArthur is an independent author of women’s fiction. After studying law at university, and then re-training as a primary school teacher, she now lives in the Highlands of Scotland with her husband, two kids, a couple of badly behaved dogs and a cat with a superiority complex. As well as continuing to work part time as a teacher, she is now indulging in her first love of writing. Her first book, ‘The Back Up Plan’, was released in January 2020. Her second novel, ‘Love, on the Rocks’ – a tale of love, loss and starting over, set on the remote Scottish island of Inniscreag – is due for release in Summer 2020.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Friendship, Literary Fiction, Mystery, Romance, Travel

Eleven Lines to Somewhere Alyson Rudd 4*#Review @allyrudd_times @HQStories #BlogTour #BookReview #Love #Loss #Mystery #Family #serendipity #LiteraryFiction

In a world of what-ifs, a connection has been made.

When Ryan spots a young woman on the tube on his commute, he can’t take his eyes off her. Instantly attracted and intrigued, he’s keen to find out more about his mysterious fellow passenger.

The woman he thinks of as Millie spends all day travelling the Underground, unable to leave for reasons unbeknownst to Ryan. For some inexplicable reason, he just can’t shake the feeling he wants to help her escape her endless commute.

This is a story of love and loss from the author of The First Time Lauren Pailing Died

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I received a copy of this book from HQ via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This story relies strongly on its characters to capture the reader’s heart and keep them reading. The plot is detailed and reflective in keeping with literary fiction, but it also relies on serendipity and how one person’s actions can affect others.

The setting on the underground gives the story an iconic quality. It is also relatable for the millions that have ridden the underground. People watching is inevitable when travelling in such proximity. This story stems from people watching and whether they do have mysteries to solve.

Ryan’s fixation with Sylvie, her compulsion to ride the underground, and his quest to help her is the momentum of this story. The characters are emotional and honest and easy to empathise. Their lives are ordinary but fascinating as is their fatalistic overlaps.

Read this book with no expectations and see what you think.

Posted in Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, Friendship, Holiday Romance, Romance

The Hidden Beach Karen Swan 4*#Review @KarenSwan1 @panmacmillan #BookReview #Summer #Sweden #Love #Family #Relationships #TheHiddenBeach

From internationally bestselling author Karen Swan comes The Hidden Beach, an addictive story of heartbreak, loyalty and hope, set in the historic city of Stockholm and along the beautiful archipelagos of the Swedish coast.

In the oldest part of Stockholm, Bell Everhurst is working as a nanny for an affluent family. Hanna and Max Mogert are parents to 7 year-old Linus, and 5-year old twins Ellinor and Tilde, and Bell has been with the family for over two years.

One early Spring morning, as she’s rushing out to take the children to school, she answers the phone – and everything changes. A woman from a clinic she’s never heard of asks her to pass on the message that Hanna’s husband is awake.

Bell is confused. She clearly just saw Max walking out of the house a few minutes earlier, but the woman mentioned Hanna by name . . .

When she gets hold of her employer, the truth is revealed: Hanna’s first husband fell into a coma seven years earlier, following an accident. But now he’s awake. And life is going to change for them all.

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Pan Macmillan via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Stockholm and the Archipelagos are the evocative settings for this family drama, which capture the Scandinavian ethos, so well. Bell, a nanny, takes a telephone call, intended for Hanna, with unexpected results.

Hanna’s husband awakens from a coma after several years. He has to come to terms with his family’s new situation. Told predominantly from Bell’s viewpoint, the reader gains a comprehensive view of the fallout and how it affects each family member.

This is a gentle, paced book with lots of description and detail. The characters are realistic, relatable and full of flaws. Some are likeable some not so much, but all add to the story.

It’s always an enjoyable experience to read this author’s books. They are full of insightful reflection and complexity which draws you into, another world.