17 Apr The Book-lovers’ Retreat by Heidi Swain
A Lake District escape changes the lives of three friends
Serendipity brings Heather, Laurie and Rose together for the summer in an idyllic Lake District, cottage, where they form a close friendship, and make important decisions that will take them on to the next chapters of their lives.
So far, so lovely.
But can life imitate art? That’s what friends and life-long fans of “Hope Falls”, Emily, Rachel and Tori are hoping to find out when they book a stay of six weeks at the cottage, where the fictional story of Heather, Laurie and Rose was filmed!
Yes, the first three girls never existed outside their author’s imagination when she wrote Hope Falls – but they’ve become icons to their fan base, and the fictional setting for their adventures draws crowds, much as Jane Austen fans visit Bath or Anne of Green Gables fans visit Prince Edward Island.
Our three heroines plan to emulate their heroines adventures, and use their time wisely, just as Heather, Rose and Laurie did.
Currently between jobs, Emily plans to use her time at the cottage to decide whether to continue her secure but unsatisfying career or follow her dream to create dresses in patchwork that deliver memories along with style.
Teacher Rachel is looking forward to the break. She’ll be leaving boyfriend Jeremy behind – and given his controlling ways, Emily and Tori think that might be a good thing.
Happy-go-lucky, rich, spoilt Tori is just along for the ride and the chance to share the Hope Falls love.
The friends’ plans are thrown into disarray
But the friends’ plans are thrown into jeopardy when Tori’s father suddenly decided he’s had enough of his daughter wasting her life, withdraws her allowance and orders her home to reflect on her future. With the threat of disinheritance hanging over her head, Tori has no choice but to comply, leaving Emily and Rachel with the task of finding a new housemate to help meet the costs of their Lake District escape.
Enter Alex, whom they choose from the landlady’s waiting list, sure they will get on famously with a fellow superfan of Hope Falls.
But when they arrive at the cottage, they discover Alex is not at all as they expected. Is their idyllic summer dream in tatters? Or can they somehow make it work?
Over the next six weeks, all three will go through adventure together, much soul-searching, laughter, fall-outs and tears.
Will they have as happy an outcome as their inspirational heroines? Hope Cottage will have to work its magic in real life this time!
A charming and authentic world
This story was as charming as its title suggested. I loved the conceit of a book within a book – and even found myself googling to discover if Hope Falls really was a book I could read, too. Spoiler alert – it’s not. But maybe lovely Heidi Swain will write it for us one day.
Fortunately, the story of Emily, Rachel, Tori and Alex is equally enthralling.
Each is so different to the other, and yet their dynamic works. Even when they’re falling out or keeping secrets from each other, the deep affection they hold for each other shines through, and as a reader, I desperately wanted a happy outcome for each of them, even spoiled Tori, who may not be at the cottage, but who does not disappear from the story.
As always in her books, author Heidi Swain creates a charming and authentic world for her characters. Her Lake District is as rainy as the real one, but just as beautiful, with descriptions of lakes, waterfall, cosy cottages and village pubs drawing me into the story and making me long to be there!
There’s humour in the narrative, with minor characters like pushy Mrs Timpson at the general stores creating opportunities for laughter, while the friends’ adventures following in their fictional heroines’ footsteps lead them into some ludicrous situations, too.
But the overall tone is as warm and comforting as the mugs of hot chocolate Em, Rachel and Alex gulp down after a picnic in the rain.
And of course, there is romance – when there are young women out looking for adventure, how could there not be? Especially when there’s a sexy pub landlord just down the road!
When Em, Rachel and Alex finally leave Hope Cottage, part of their hearts remain there. It would be fair to say mine does, too.
With its empathetic cast of characters, its gorgeous setting, its exploration of hopes, dream and ambitions, and its sheer unashamed romance, this is as lovely a read as you’d expect from the writer who brought us the Wynbridge and the Nightingale Square series of books.
Thanks, Heidi – now go and write Hope Falls for us!
The Book-lovers’ Retreat by Heidi Swain is published by Simon & Schuster in paperback and ebook
About the Author
Heidi Swain lives in beautiful South Norfolk with her family and a mischievous cat called Storm. She is passionate about gardening, the countryside, collecting vintage paraphernalia and reading. She is the Sunday Times best-selling author the Wynbridge Series and the Nightingale series of books.
Thanks to Sarah-Jade Virtue of Books and the City for inviting me on this blogtour and to publishers Simon & Schuster for the copy of the book.
Catch up with the rest of the blogtour at the links on the poster
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