Alison Sherlock comes to the blog today with her Welcome to Willow Tree Hall series – a mix of romance, chick lit and coming of age story with a lovely balance of humor, friendship, family and new opportunities. Please read on for my review of
Escape to the Country
Running home to lick her wounds after losing a job she hated, and a boyfriend who didn’t make her heart react, Eleanor is back in Cranley after eight years of being elsewhere, and determined to find a way back to her job and a London life. Sure, the gossip tabloid she worked for wasn’t the ‘respectable” or high powered position she had told everyone she had, but after eight years of lies and a return of her eczema with all the stress, she’s not sure she can ‘come clean’ to everyone. But with no offers on the horizon, and her mother in need of help with the stray animals (dogs, cats, tortoise, donkey and goat) that she’s collected. So back to Cranley Eleanor goes – dragging her possessions, designer wardrobe and guilt behind her.
Issues, guilt, lies, reconnection, rediscovery and even a bit of romance all come to light here as Eleanor reconnects with her friends Annie and Megan, and starts to loosen up. Of course, she’s still got a loosely formed plan to provide all the dirt on superstar singer Tommy King, now staying at Willow Tree Manor where Annie, former housekeeper, is engaged to the future Earl, Sam. See, Sam is a music producer / manager, and Tommy, just off a world tour and still grieving for his grandmother, is resting, relaxing and recovering from an ankle injury. He’s the first to spot Eleanor’s mask and façade, buried under a shell of makeup and clad in designer clothes. For Eleanor has issues….she must always be ‘pulled together’ and look her best: her father’s bunking off with a much younger woman when she was 12 have her convinced that his obsession with ‘how things look’ is the reason he left, and her mother’s sacrifice for her means she has to always be perfect and amazingly successful to live up to those expectations.
Honestly, I expected Eleanor to be more difficult to enjoy and appreciate, but she wasn’t. She’s just stuck in her own box, and working her way out of it, with some perfectly lovely (and funny) moments as the animals, country and even her own clumsiness have her struggling with always being “perfect’, and her real personality and the reason she, Annie and Megan are friends, starts to come forward. She’s back to mixing her own lotions and potions for her eczema, making a carrot-concoction for the very-burnt nose of Megan, and an electric connection with Tom (not Tommy King) have her coming clean and thinking about her now realigned future. Finding that connection with Tom, who also feels unwanted and shuffled about after a childhood in care, the loss of his grandmother has hit him hard. But the welcome from Arthur (the Earl) and Rose (his sister), the lack of expectations and comfort in that feeling of family have him thinking of more. Particularly with the very attached Dylan, a stray dog who wants him – and no one else, with the exception of Eleanor. A lovely getaway story that packs growth, heart and plenty of smiles with laugh out loud mishaps, plenty of animal hijinks and friends for life.
Title: Escape to the Country
Author: Alison Sherlock
Series: Willow Tree Hall #2
Also in this series: A Way Back Home
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Setting: Britain
Published by: Aria
Published on: 1 May, 2018
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Heat: Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ Barnes&Noble ♦ iTunes ♦ Kobo ♦ Google
Everyone is running away from something - but will an escape to the countryside suit everyone? Full of warmth, laughter tears and heartache. Perfect for the fans Jill Mansell and Carole Matthews.
Journalist Eleanor McCartney leads a glamorous life in London exposing the sordid secrets of famous celebrities for Hot Gossip! magazine. But her perfect life is a sham. So when her world collapses, she has to reluctantly head home to her mum and friends in the quiet country village of Cranley.
Willow Tree Hall is still in the midst of extensive renovations under the careful eye of Eleanor's best friend Annie and her fiancé, record producer and future Earl of Cranley, Sam Harris.
With a recording studio now in the grounds of the estate, it should be the perfect place for global singing sensation Tom Kingsley to hang out. But Tom is burnt out after a gruelling worldwide tour and is escaping the paparazzi after yet another scandal. Eleanor cannot believe her luck. A story on the world's biggest superstar would be the ticket that gets her job and glamorous life back in London.
But soon both Eleanor and Tom begin to fall under the spell of Willow Tree Hall. Eleanor begins to wonder whether she can really betray his trust. And does she really want her old life back or is home really where the heart lies?
As a heatwave soars, friendships are made, truths are told and, with the help of a stray dog, perhaps love can be found as hearts are healed. By escaping to the country, maybe Eleanor and Tom have found their new beginning.
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: