Willoughby Close Series

Kate Hewitt writes delightful books and the Willoughby Close series is entirely that. There are five books in the series all taking place at Willoughby Close-a group of five new homes on the English country estate of Willoughby Close owned by Lady Stokely’s nephew, Henry. She lives there but upon her death, all will transfer back to her brother-in-law, Hugo., who could care less about the property except for the money that can be found in the art, furnishings, house and grounds. Henry comes off as arrogant and unfeeling, even for his aunt. Henry causes tension in the books and in Marry Me at Willoughby Close, his story is told.

A Cotswold Christmas 

What could be a disastrous Christmas vacation to the Cotswold of England for Anna Vere turns into a magical time of healing, of finding herself and of discovering love. Her vacation starts with a flooded B & B, an offer to stay in an incomplete cottage and a handsome, make that too handsome, rescuer who shares an inventive and fun time for Anna.

Meet Me at Willoughby Close

Ellie Matthews is seeking to create a better life for her daughter and herself in Willoughby Close, a small group of new homes in Wynchwood-on-Lea, England. She is leaving behind her intruding parents and sister and the home her husband ran away from  to Australia. She is hopeful her new job and home will bring much needed happiness for both of them.

Dr. Oliver Venables is Ellie’s new boss and he assumed she would be starting work at the university sooner than she was told. Nothing like starting on the wrong foot! But, circumstances will alleviate the initial misunderstanding and Ellie may find more at Willoughby Close than she ever imagined.

Find Me at Willoughby Close

Harriet’s life and all it meant is in shambles. She learns her husband is carrying on with another woman and has serious problems. She is left to pick up the pieces, take care of their three children, maintain a semblance of civility with him and rouse herself from a state of anxiety and stress. She and the children move to Willoughby Close-a huge step-down from the mansion and extravagant living they were all accustomed to living. She does not know if she and her husband will reconcile or what they will do for money. This is a story about a woman who truly finds herself at a time when all seems lost and gains her life back in a newer and better way.

Kiss Me at Willoughby Manor

Loved this story of Ava and Jace! Loved the writing and the content. Ava was widowed by her older by 30 years husband and left virtually nothing. His grown children from his first marriage got everything. She’s left with figuring out what she is going to do now that she’s no longer considered a trophy wife and finds herself renting a cottage at Willoughby Close. When she meets Jace, the groundskeeper, she is taken by him (and he by her) but she feels all wrong about it. Plus, she finds out she’s pregnant! Jace becomes the friend she truly needs to confide in. There is something going on between them in the sir but neither one is ready to admit it and admit to all the baggage they carry.

Marry Me at Willoughby Close

This is the final book in the Willoughby Close set which began with A Cotswold Christmas. It is such a lovely book filled with lovely emotion and sentiment. It might be my favorite of all of them.

This is the story of Alice and Henry and of Lady Willoughby. Henry has been mentioned in the other books and without much to like about him. He comes off as gruff, stuck up and downright mean to the other renters in Willoughby Close. He is the unfeeling nephew to Lady Willoughby or so everyone thinks.

Alice was introduced in book four as a down-on-her luck young woman in need of work and a home. She is lucky to come into the job of caring for the ailing Lady, who doesn’t want to lose her last shred of independence. Alice meets the stodgy, gruff Henry when he comes to his aunt’s home to visit. He was under the impression that Alice was a matronly woman not a young girl.

Alice and Henry develop an uneasy relationship but their love for Lady Willoughby draws them together. Alice dreams about Henry but he is closed off, then close, then closed off again. Not until the very end do you learn if Henry can or will admit he feels for Alice. Even she does not know.

Still Life with Bread Crumbs

Stil Life with Bread crumbs

Life has a strange way of correcting itself if it is allowed to do it. For Rebecca Winter it takes a major shift in her way of life to make change happen. For her, change means redefining her life to include minimal income and loss of recognition for her work. She is no spring chicken and at 60 she finds it difficult to redefine who she is. She has not been a wife for a while but she is still a mother. She is a daughter to her father but not to her dementia affected mother. She is an artist but  has no purposeful subject. Rebecca is a photographer who once had huge renown for her work. She still has fans but has not captured the essence she desires on film in a very long time. Leaving her New York apartment and going to live in a tiny town in a remote cabin changes many aspects of her life.

Rebecca meets Jim Bates when she finds some animal living in her attic. They form a friend relationship and somewhere on the periphery of her mind is love. She also meets Sarah who runs a small tea diner and they become friends, too. It is when she finds rudimentary crosses each with a memento that she finds a subject to photograph that delights her and speaks to her senses. She assumes she knows the meaning behind each memoriam but not really. There is more depth to the meaning than she realizes.

The novel is skillfully written in a way that will engage you until the last sentence.

 

The Red Car

the Red CAr

The Red Car is a journey between the here and now and memories past. Leah lives in New York with her husband, Hans, and life is not really being lived. Both of them are writers but she is the only one who works. It seems like she has simply settled for it until she receives word that a former boss/mentor/friend has died and left her a red sports car. Leah is confused, to say the least, because her boss, Judy, knew how much Leah hated the car. It gave her the creeps every time she rode in it.

Leah is given the flight to San Francisco where the funeral is to be but Hans is not included. In a fit of rage about it, he grabs Leah by the neck. She’s seen his anger before but not to this extreme. His reaction fuels her exit remorseful that he is.

Judy was years prior both a mentor and a friend to Leah. Because of a difference of opinion, Leah quit communicating with Judy. Leah finds that she can hear Judy’s voice in her head giving her advice and opinions while she is in San Francisco. The trip redefines Leah’s life and what it is that she is really missing.

There are some weird quirks in the car itself, the reasons it made Leah uneasy from the start. It will seem as if the car drives Leah instead of the opposite

 

Close Enough to Touch

close enough to touch

This is a novel I thoroughly enjoyed because of the intersection of the characters and their interactions. It is a novel not so much about one character but about three adults and a young boy. Each one has a demon to face that has caused or is causing turmoil and strife.

Jubilee has a genetic defect that has caused her to be extremely allergic to human touch and skin cells. She swells up immediately and goes into anaphylactic shock. Eric is desperately trying to connect with his adopted son, Aja, and to re-establish a relationship with his teen daughter, Ellie. Madison has known Jubilee since high school and is part of the reason Jubilee became agoraphobic.

The three trisect when Madison gets Jubilee a job at the library and she meets Eric and Aja. Later Jubilee saves Aja’s life while almost losing hers in the process. Madison convinces Jubilee to seek further medical attention for her disorder. Jubilee is then faced with the possibility that she could be cured but is scared of the results-either success or failure.

I love how Jubilee overcomes so much fear, fear that has the capability of crippling her at every turn. Yet she persists to face them and learns so much more than the books she has read can relate. It is painful at times to read about her naïveté when it comes to relationships with both men and women. She is taken on what feels like a joyride by Madison who has her own motives (and not pure ones at that). The relationship that builds with Eric is hopeful and, again, confusing.

This is truly a captivating novel that has so many event driven twists that maintain your interest.

Sunshine is Forever

Sunshine is forever

This is not a light and fluffy book but a serious look into the possible thoughts and feelings of a young teen that is deeply depressed-depressed enough to attempt suicide and haunted so deeply by what is called, “The Incident.” The young teen, Hunter S. Thompson, is sent to live the summer at Camp Sunshine a camp with “specialists” to help deeply depressed youth. To Hunter, it is Camp Suicide because every moment he is there he feels more like he wants to commit suicide. He finds there are unwritten rules of behavior (do not ever ask anyone how they got there), hears dire warnings from counselors to stay away from Corin (a girl also there who he feels is attracted to him), and sees only tall fences surrounding the camp. It is a death sentence in his mind.

Hunter has been to therapy and has taken the drugs but to no end. He feels that no one cares about him, that his parents hate him and wish him dead, and that he deserves to feel as guilty and as beaten as he does. He thinks and feels that sex and losing his virginity will be the cure for his depression and when he meets Corin, he thinks she may be the answer to healing.

If you have ever wondered what might go on in the mind of someone deeply depressed or even thought you might have a clue, this is a good book to read. It is hard to read the thoughts of Hunter. It hurts to read the thoughts of Hunter. It can give you insight into the possible thoughts of those with this type of depression. It will enlighten you.

The Best Kind of People

The Best Kind of People 2

The Best Kind of People covers the story of a family impacted by charges against one of them, atrocious charges, and how they try to cope in the months preceding the trial. Four people are thrown out of the context of their lives never envisioning anything this horrific could happen to them.

The father, George Woodbury, is accused of sexual misconduct with four minors and attempted rape of a minor while on a class skiing trip with the school where he teaches. The mother, Joan, is stunned beyond belief as she would never ever have thought anything like this was possible with George. Daughter Sadie does not know what to do. She is a senior at George’s school-a star student and very involved in school activities. Andrew is the oldest child and lives in New York, far away from the stifling community of his parents. He is shocked beyond all reason by the charges and needs to cling to the notion that his father is innocent.

As these lives unravel, each must battle their way back to a new sense of normalcy, one that includes the possibility that George is guilty, no matter how much he says he is innocent. Sadie becomes more and more into marijuana as an escape and envisions herself in love with an older man. Andrew’s relationship with his partner begins to come undone. Joan finds solace in a support group for women in her situation.

If there is resolution, it is in each person finding what they really need in order to cope.

Return to your Skin

return to your skin

Return to your Skin is a fantastic historical romance set in the past and in modern times, weaving them together to tell a wonderful yet hard story. Past lives and eternal paroises are fulfilled in the lives of Brianda and Corso in the village of Tiles, Spain. Brianda, a successful engineer, begins to experience a terrifying nightmare in which she is the focus of horrifying terror in the past. She suffers progressively worse anxiety until it disrupts her work and life. In an attempt to get away and perhaps find relief, she travels to Tiles to her aunt and uncle’s home. Her Uncle Colau has frightened her since childhood and that has not changed. In Tiles, she meets Neli, a Wiccan practice, and Corso, an intriguing stranger who is rebuilding his ancestor’s home/fortress.

Brianda is desperate to discover the cause of her anxiety and of the nightmares. She begins the arduous task of pulling together the history of one Brianda of Anels-her relative, of a territory-wide war, and of her strange and compulsive desire for Corso.

I found myself immersed not only in the past lives of Brianda and Corso and their romance but also in the richly described history of the land in which they lived. Luz Gabas has definitely excellently researched the times, the dress, the customs, and the atmosphere of Spain in the 1500’s, the frenzy that surrounded the Inquisition and its influence on all of Spain, and the landscape and buildings of that period of history.

This is the second book by Luz Gabas that I have read. I love how she arduously researches the historical material and brings it to life in her stories.

It is a not to miss book!

The Stolen Marriage

The stolen marriage

This is a deeply touching, fascinating story that weaves together two aspects of American history still prevalent today: bigotry and second class citizenship for women. There is a skillful weaving of these aspects with the background of a major polio outbreak in the 1940’s South Carolina. Ms. Chamberlain uses this historical along with Hickory polio hospital as the backdrop for a heart rendering story of a young woman whose life is extremely altered by an incident that changes everything for her. Tess DeMello is a nursing student in Baltimore awaiting her wedding and her graduation from nursing school. Her intended, Vincent, is a doctor involved in polio research in Chicago. On a fateful trip to Washington, D.C., with her friend, a life altering event happens to Tess and nothing is the same from that point forward.

She ends up in rural Hickory, South Carolina, living in a loveless home and suffocating under the hatred she feels and under the burdens of life in the South.

When the polio epidemic reaches a terrifying level, the people of Hickory band together to build a polio hospital in fifty-four hours. It is Tess’ saving grace as she defies her family and volunteers as a nurse at the facility. So much of the story truly unfolds from there and it is amazing, captivating and intense.

For me, the intensity of the poor treatment of Tess by her family was so difficult to read as I know this type of meanness and cruel treatment was part and parcel with rural areas as it can be anywhere still. Tess is treated like a second class citizen with abject criticism and outright contempt by those she was hoping would grow to love her. Her spouse, Henry, is cold and distant to the loving and kind Tess compounding her misery. While I read, I kept hoping for a change in the attitudes but in my reading heart I knew this would not happen.

This is a thoroughly engaging story about love, hardships, and redemption.

(Available October, 2017)

Secrets in Summer

secrets in summer

I loved this latest from Nancy Thayer. It’s a summer of living in the center of three families that all intersect for Darcy Cotterill. Her ex-husband and family live behind her, a young family lives on one side and an aging woman and her virile grandson live on the other side. Darcy hears and sees things she’d rather not and feels forced to intervene where she honestly does not want to be involved. Through it all, Darcy learns so much about herself and what she really wants. The characters are interesting and thoughtful. It is a very enjoyable read.

Girl off the Grid

girl off the grid

This is an absolutely perfect book for young adults/teen readers. The plot of a social media girl Camille, going completely off the grid to travel to Costa Rica is such a great idea. Plus, reading about the surprises encounters along the way allows her inner character to shine through. Then there’s the handsome photographer, Adam, who is her age but seems stiff and is oh so sure he has her read correctly. He’s as surprised and confused at times by her reactions to circumstances that he has to change his thoughts about her. Camille ends up being a trouper and a charmer. Her videologs are just so very entertaining!

This is a super enjoyable book from beginning to end.