It’s a real pleasure today to be joining the blog tour for Fox Halt Farm, the debut novel from Celia Moore, published on 1st November, and available in the UK and US. For once, it didn’t take a blog tour with Brook Cottage Books to make me aware of this book – I’ve had the real pleasure of following some of Celia’s journey to publication, and must thank her for the mention in the acknowledgements that I’m not sure I really deserve. Let’s take a closer look at the book…
Fox Halt Farm is a compelling love story set over two decades with a backdrop of atmospheric Dartmoor, Devon. Perfect for fans of romance – this is a powerful and captivating read.
Opening on a cliff edge, Billy finds herself alone and betrayed. She believes everyone and everything she loves is threatened.
Richard’s world is aglow with wealth, love and unswerving family loyalty but then his perfect life crosses Billy’s. He could save Billy, her beloved dairy cows and Fox Halt Farm but this young woman isn’t in the mood to be rescued. Nothing will stay the same. Should they trust each other? Will their secrets tear their lives apart?
Fox Halt Farm is going to be hard to put down: Billy and Richard’s story will tug on your heart-strings. This novel is emotive, enthralling and so real – this is what could happen when two very different worlds collide.
I think it’s probably fair to say that Fox Halt Farm is recognisably a first novel, a new author stretching her wings, and perhaps not entirely perfect. But there was a great deal about this book that I really enjoyed. The main strength of the book for me is the way that the author has taken her life experience and turned it into such a sweeping story of love, families, betrayal and heartbreak.
I liked very much the book’s focus on Fox Halt Farm as a refuge from the worst moments in life, a vividly drawn setting with a warm beating heart and Billy’s wonderful mother at its centre. I liked the father, Jack, too – there’s a lovely thread around the way he found the love of his life, and I enjoyed his gruff presence. Richard’s involvement with the family is fascinating (if risky in so many ways) – and I did warm to him as the story progressed. I found Billy rather more difficult to like – I did find her a little sulky and difficult, for reasons I didn’t always understand, but my word, she does go through some awful experiences that might have made me a little spiky too.
There are some excellent characters in this book in addition to the main players. Saffi is simply wonderful, gloriously larger than life, a friend everyone could do with – and there’s a particularly well drawn villain too, with a degree of self-interest that takes your breath away. And – as well as Fox Hall Farm itself – I very much enjoyed some of the detail in this book, when the author shows real descriptive flair. The interiors of Saffi’s homes (particularly the bedrooms) are simply gorgeous – and there are the London offices old and new (I have a perfect mental picture of the new), the dilapidated hall later in the book, the wonderfully described climb above Llanberis. And I was surprised to find how much I enjoyed the descriptions of the corporate environment too, all very real and well drawn. The contemporary references that capture and reflect the timings in the story were inspired – some purely incidental, some driving the story forward.
I’ve never written a novel, and most likely never will – and I have the greatest admiration for someone who tackles such an ambitious and complex story on their first outing. There were admittedly a few aspects that didn’t 100% work for me, but well done Celia – I very much look forward to seeing what you do next.
Let’s take a look at a short extract – the book’s opening…
Richard MarcFenn (Saturday 12 July 1986)
There must be at least twenty irregular steps to negotiate before we reach our honeymoon hotel. I can see that my petite wife is wishing that she hadn’t worn her million dollar heels, which were never fashioned for this unforgiving terrain.
I catch something in the edge of my vision. I screw my head towards Janette,
‘Did you see that? Darling! Did you see?’
‘No. What?’ She is still focused on the steps.
‘I thought I saw something falling,’ I point at the jagged headland and I tellher, ‘I must check it out!’
Straightaway, I abandon my wife and charge ahead to the edge of the cliff.
My eyes are scrutinising the white beach far below. Nothing…
I search harder. I feel exhausted. The journey to this remote Greek island was so much longer than we expected and leaving straight from our wedding was definitely a mistake.
Concentrate! My straining eyes pick up the tiniest movement, or maybe my ears sense the faintest noise. I am aware of something, a laugh maybe?
As I make out a small indistinct shape at the bottom of the cliff, my heart pumps my blood too fast. A vein throbs in the middle of my forehead and I mouth horrified questions to no-one, ‘A child? Did they fall?’
I think I hear the haunting noise again, the ghost of another laugh?
STOP PRESS: Fox Halt Farm is on special offer until 1st December at only 99p!
With thanks to Celia and tour organiser Brook Cottage Books, I’m delighted to offer the chance to win an Amazon voucher for £20/$20. Here’s the rafflecopter for entry:
About the author
Celia Moore was born in Devon, England, and grew up on a farm. Celia left the farm to have a successful career as a Chartered Surveyor working in the City district of London.
In 2000 she left the office life behind to start a new adventure of becoming an outdoor instructor and taught rock climbing, mountaineering, canoeing and even skiing, archery, rifle shooting and mountain biking. She managed an outdoor residential centre until she met her husband and now she is concentrating on gardening for a few lovely customers, running and writing.
Born fifty years ago this year, Celia has been creative ever since – from explaining why there are no chocolate biscuits left when visitors arrive, to writing glowing particulars for ugly properties; from encouraging people to have a go at a scary abseil, oil painting and writing. Celia loves it all but especially the gardening, running and the writing!