So delighted today to be joining the blog tour – on publication day – for the new novel by Caroline James, The Best Boomerville Hotel (available on all e-book platforms), and the first for Choc Lit’s new imprint, Ruby Fiction. I’ve been so looking forward to spending time with Jo and Hattie again…
Let the shenanigans begin at the Boomerville hotel …
Jo Docherty and Hattie Contaldo have a vision – a holiday retreat in the heart of the Lake District exclusively for guests of ‘a certain age’ wishing to stimulate both mind and body with new creative experiences. One hotel refurbishment later and the Best Boomerville Hotel is open for business!
Perhaps not surprisingly Boomerville attracts more than it’s fair share of eccentric clientele: there’s fun loving Sir Henry Mulberry and his brother Hugo; Lucinda Brown, an impoverished artist with more ego than talent; Andy Mack, a charming Porsche-driving James Bond lookalike, as well as Kate Simmons, a woman who made her fortune from an internet dating agency but still hasn’t found ‘the One’ herself.
With such an array of colourful individuals there’s bound to be laughs aplenty, but could there be tears and heartbreak too and will the residents get more than they bargained for at Boomerville?
OK, gushing review coming up – I thought this book was just fabulous, sheer enjoyment from the first page to its perfect end. There can be nothing much better than taking a diverse collection of quirky but perfectly drawn characters, placing them in a well-defined setting, throwing in a few fireworks, then sitting back and seeing what happens. I’ve been a fan of Caroline James’ writing for some time now – but in this book, it’s better than ever.
The Boomerville Hotel itself is such an original and perfect concept – catering for singles past the first flush of youth, offering a bit of luxury and a few new experiences – and if I came across a well-placed advert next to the crossword in the local paper as Kate did I think I’d be on-line making a booking too. Writing workshops, pottery and art classes, bread-making and curry, walking in the gorgeous Lakes countryside nearby, chef-inspired food, drink flowing, wood-burning stoves, great company… yes, sign me up please!
The characters in this book are just wonderful – all drawn in perfect detail, all with their own histories, those full and rich back stories that make them completely rounded (however eccentric), all interacting in a way that’s never less than totally believable. The truly eccentric few are superb, quite outrageous at times but never too over the top to be real and recognisable. When combined with Hattie’s efforts to come up with new and original ideas to entertain the guests (with a rolling pin in her cleavage to deal with unwelcome advances), they’re a wonderful source of humour than ranges from the very gentle to riotous laugh-out-loud slapstick.
It was so good to see Jo – her emotional story central to some of the author’s earlier books – comfortably happy, taking a step back to enjoy her own life. The focal point for this book – in terms of new characters – is Kate, ready to move slowly forward after nursing her father through dementia: I immediately took her to my heart, and was so pleased when she linked up with Andy, and it looked like she was going to find some unexpected happiness and hope for the future. Oh, and now I’m slipping into telling the story… and I really mustn’t do that, there are so many wonderful threads, and they’re something you really need to enjoy discovering for yourself, as I did.
There’s a perfect balancing act throughout this book – tears and sadness at times, some significant villainy, a touch of the supernatural, edge-of-seat drama and suspense, all sitting comfortably alongside Caroline James’ wonderful light touch with a story and wicked humour. There are set pieces in this story that are immensely touching – and others that make me laugh just thinking of them, and will for some time to come.
This book is just a perfect package – I absolutely loved it. And – Choc Lit and Ruby Fiction – what a superb book to have chosen to launch a new book imprint!
About the author
Caroline James has owned and run businesses encompassing all aspects of the hospitality industry, a subject that features in her novels. She is based in the UK but has a great fondness for travel and escapes whenever she can. A public speaker, consultant and food writer, Caroline is a member of the Romantic Novelist’s Association and writes articles and short stories and contributes to many publications.
Her debut novel, Coffee, Tea, The Gypsy & Me is set in North West England, at the time of a famous gypsy horse fair. The book went straight to number three on Amazon and was E-book of the Week in The Sun.
So, You Think You’re A Celebrity…Chef? was runner up the Winchester Writers festival for best TV Drama and takes a light-hearted look at the world of celebrity chefs as they battle it out for fame and fortune. Coffee, Tea, The Caribbean & Me was runner up at The Write Stuff, LBF, 2015 and is an Amazon best-seller and top recommended read by Thomson Holidays. Jungle Rock, a romcom novella set in Australia, revolves around a TV game show.
In her spare time, Caroline can be found trekking up a mountain or relaxing with her head in a book and hand in a box of chocolates.