Lucy fell in love with tumbledown Rosemary Cottage as a child. So thirty years on, when she loses her city job and discovers the cottage is for sale, it feels like fate. She’ll raise her children in Burley Bridge and transform the cottage into a B&B with her husband.
But a year can change everything . . .
Now Lucy is juggling two children and a B&B but on her own. Christmas looks set to be their last on Rosemary Lane – until she meets James, a face from her past and someone who might offer a different kind of future . . .
Should Lucy leave the cottage behind? Or could this winter on Rosemary Lane be the start of something new?
I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Childhood memories can be powerful, and Lucy’s love of the cottage on Rosemary Lane stayed with her for thirty years. When her career reaches a crossroads, she convinces her husband that living there would be perfect for their family. For a while it is. Then life happens and tragedy strikes and Lucy is left to rebuild her family, but will it be at the cottage on Rosemary Lane?
Whilst this story is not exclusively festive, there are many Christmassy references and touches, which show the best and worst of the season. Told from mainly from Lucy’s point of view, this is a lovely tale of family life in a small Yorkshire village, it is a story of bereavement and loss and starting over. There are some strong friendships, and interesting romantic possibilities overlaid with courage, emotion and humour.The story draws you in, and it becomes important what happens to Lucy and her young family.
The rural setting is well described and the cast of characters diverse and realistic. James’ story is intricately woven into the main plot in a believable way, with just the right amount of serendipity. The story brings hope out of tragedy and leaves the reader with a feel-good hug.
Charlie Maddison loves being an architect in London, but when she finds out her boyfriend, Dominic, is actually married, she runs back to the beautiful countryside of Westenbury and her parents.
Charlie’s sister Daisy, a landscape gardener, is
also back home in desperate need of company and some fun. Their
great-grandmother, Madge – now in her early nineties – reveals she has a house,
Holly Close Farm, mysteriously abandoned over sixty years ago, and persuades
the girls to project manage its renovation.
As work gets underway, the sisters start
uncovering their family’s history, and the dark secrets that are hidden at the
A heart-breaking tale of wartime romance, jealousy and betrayal slowly emerge, but with a moral at its end: true love can withstand any obstacle, and, before long, Charlie dares to believe in love again too…
I received a copy of this book from Aria Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Romantic love is often considered something you can only have when you’re young. Can you imagine your grandmother or great-grandmother falling in love, or do you just see the wrinkles, hear the repetitive stories and remember her forgetfulness?
Charlie reeling from a romantic betrayal finds that her great-grandmother Madge has kept so many secrets in her long life, including finding her true love, and the web of betrayal, deceit and secrets that this event spun.
Madge offers Charlie and her sister Daisy a chance to shine when they seem to be failing at life. Accepting the challenge takes the sisters on a journey of self -discovery and the revelation of Madge’s colourful past.
Told in dual timelines, which makes the story doubly interesting, you see parallels and differences between the two generations of women. There is a lovely balance of humour and poignancy. The romance is sweet and the story inspiring.
Literary agents – do writers today need one? – Guest Post-Julie Houston
When I started out on the long – and often winding – road to becoming a published writer, I’d no idea what the role of a literary agent actually was, never mind about how to go about getting one. I just knew that, according to all the self-help handbooks that I bought and loaned from the public library, I had to have one. This was about seven years ago when it was drummed into all new writers that agents were akin to St Peter at the gates of heaven. They held the key to whether you were going to be allowed in to get anywhere near the God-like publisher.
not going to go into how one should go about achieving that status of being an
‘agented writer’ – countless detailed words of advice and articles have been
written on the subject – but I thought I would share with you my own particular
I’d written a book. It started off with the title ‘Harriet Westmoreland does it with class’ (Harriet is a teacher)
became ‘Living La Dolce Vite’ (her
husband spends a lot of time in Italy) then became ‘Compulsive Granite Disorder’ (Harriet, like me, has a bit of a
compulsion for cleaning her granite when stressed) and eventually ended up as ‘Goodness Grace and Me.’ The manuscript
went off to a string of agents. And came back. In those days, agents would
often write little notes as to what they thought, and why it wasn’t for them,
along with the rejection slip. I may be wrong, but these days, when online
submissions to agents are de rigueur, I’m not sure that happens any more. And
then came the glorious, magical week when, like a number 9 bus, three agents,
all interested in my book, came along at once.
based in London, was originally from Yorkshire and was up for the weekend to
see her mum. Could we meet? We most certainly could! And we did, the following
Saturday, for coffee and a chat at Salts Mill near Bingley. By the time I left,
floating back to the carpark on air, I had signed on the dotted line with Anne
Williams of KHLA Literary Agency based in Bristol and London. I had an agent, a literary agent.
She did warn me that my particular genre – we both disliked and eschewed the handle Chick lit, preferring the more grown-up Romantic Comedy/Women’s Fiction – was not faring too well at that point in time, being overshadowed by the rush for psychological thrillers, and had even printed out an article from The Guardian to that effect.
beauty of having Anne has an agent has been that she was formerly a
commissioning editor for one of the big publishing houses. She had, in effect,
been on the other side as it were and, as such, very much knew what editors
were looking for and the pitfalls involved in getting there. Within a few
weeks, my baby had come back to me tracked in red and, once I’d worked out how
tracking actually worked (terrifying to begin with when you’re convinced you’re
going to lose all that red work and have to admit it to this new agent) and taken
my first tentative steps to adding my own tracking in a garish purple alongside
hers, we were on our way.
My agent worked tirelessly to get Goodness, Grace and Me a place with a major publishing house. I was astonished at how few there actually were – this was at the time when even Penguin was amalgamating with Random House – and eventually we made the decision to go it alone. It was a good decision: the book went to #1 in Humour and #64 overall. With the follow-up novels, The One Saving Grace, Looking For Lucy and An Off-Piste Christmas we signed up with White Glove, a publishing division of Amazon for agented-only authors, which would not have been available to me without her. This was a great move: White Glove promoted my books, particularly in Australia, where the first two achieved #1 Humour, and Looking For Lucy went to the top of the charts going to #1 overall.
then came the offer from Aria. I wrote A
Village Affair and Anne brokered a three-book deal with Sarah, one of the
lovely commissioning editors at Aria, to include Coming Home to HollyClose
Farm and, my work in progress, Sing
Me a Secret. While Aria do take un-agented submissions, having my agent at
my side along the way has been wonderful. She’s a professional, knows all about
contracts and the like and still works with me, tirelessly, with that damned
red tracking, telling me off if I’ve written something that might come back to
bite me, but also giving praise if something particularly meets with her
the best thing about my agent is that, after seven years, I consider her a
friend. She’ll meet up with me for coffee or lunch when I’m down in London, has
been over for supper at my house when she’s been back in Yorkshire and always
gets back to me straight away if I email with some thorny question about
publication or needing advice about where my work in progress is heading.
many, successful, published authors go it alone without an agent What I would
say is, if you do find an agent interested in working with you and offer to take
you on to their books, go for it.
road to publication is so much more comfortable with that agent by your side to
hold your hand and share in your success.
peered closely at the woman, scrutinising her features for clues as to who she
Harriet,’ the woman smiled a little nervously. ‘Lydia’s granddaughter.’
Lydia? My sister, Lydia?’ Madge seemed puzzled.
Mum said. ‘You’re Keturah’s daughter?’ She turned to Madge. ‘It’s one of
Keturah’s daughters, Granny. You know. Gosh, Harriet, I’ve not seen you for
years.’ She paused. ‘It must have been at Aunt Lydia’s funeral, what, ten years
and I exchanged looks. Blimey, how many more grannies and aunties were there?
They seemed to be coming out of the woodwork at an amazing rate. I was totally
lost as to who they all were.
been dead twelve years now,’ Harriet said, reaching for the bundle of baby from
the younger woman as it began to make snuffling noises.
great-aunt Lydia was your Granny Madge’s older sister,’ Mum explained, pulling
up a chair for Harriet and the baby. ‘She was quite a bit older than you wasn’t
yes, much older. There were five of us: Lydia was the eldest and I was the
youngest. There was a good twelve years between us. By the time I was eight or
nine, Lydia was newly married and living over towards Colnefirth.’
trying to work out how we’re all related,’ I said, smiling at the younger
woman, who was looking as perplexed as I felt.
sorry, how rude of me.’ Harriet laughed. ‘This is my daughter, Liberty… Libby.’
you girls and Liberty must be eighth cousins loads of times removed then.
Sorry, can’t work it all out,’ Mum smiled. ‘I was never very good at maths.’
vaguely related. Probably best if we leave it at that.’ Liberty grinned at
Daisy and Me. ‘Oh, and this is Lysander.’ She took the baby back from her
mother and pointed him proudly in our direction.
Golly, that’s a good strong noble name,’ I said. ‘What’s that song we used to
sing at school? Some talk of Alexander, and some of Hercules; Of Hector and Lysander
diddle um tum diddle iddle um…Sorry, can’t remember the
old chap who, up until then, had been nodding peacefully in his armchair in the
far corner of the residents’ lounge, suddenly shot out of his chair, saluted
Granny, shouted, ‘Damn good soldiers. Bless ’em all,’ and then, just as
suddenly, sat back down and began to snore loudly.
old fool,’ Granny Madge tutted again. ‘I tell you, they’re all mad in here. I
need to get out before I become as crackers as they are. I’m sure it must be
Julie Houston is the author of THE ONE SAVING GRACE, GOODNESS, GRACE AND ME and LOOKING FOR LUCY, a Kindle top 100 general bestsellers and a Kindle #1 bestseller. She is married, with two teenage children and a mad cockerpoo and, like her heroine, lives in a West Yorkshire village. She is also a teacher and a magistrate. TwitterFacebook