I’m really delighted today to be joining the blog tour for Heart in the Right Place by Lisa Hill – many thanks to Tracy Fenton for the invitation, and for sending my reading e-copy. Published by Manatee Books in July, available for kindle and in paperback, this lovely book is described as “a perfect romantic read for the summer” – but this really is a book you’d enjoy before a roaring fire every bit as much as you would beside the pool. I was a little frustrated not to be able to fit in the reading of Lisa’s last book, Meet Me at Number Five – you’ll find an extract here – and I’ll be doing my level best not to miss whatever she does next. I so enjoyed this one…
Lottie Hardwicke is Yorkshire’s answer to Kirstie Allsopp, but ten years spent raising her three children with husband, Drew, has relegated her to Saturday Girl status at the family estate agents. This is Lottie’s year; she’s turning over a new leaf and is going to make her time in property less of a borderline obsession and more of an actual career. Only, she hasn’t bet on her interfering in-laws returning to scupper her plans or her teenage crush, celebrity Tom Thorpe, arriving in the village and offering her the opportunity of a lifetime, which could compromise everything…
Can Lottie have it all? Can she be a hands-on mum and get her career back, without wrecking her marriage in the process?
I particularly smiled at the “lazy Sunday read” in that graphic, because it sums up the book just perfectly – I rarely read a book in one sitting these days, but spent a really lovely Sunday afternoon escaping with these wonderfully drawn characters, following the twists and turns of the story and thoroughly enjoying every moment. The Harrogate setting was a rather lovely surprise too – I live just ten minutes’ drive away – and it was slightly surreal that I’ve just arranged for my mum to go into a care home very close to the one featured in the story!
But I enjoyed it for so much more than that – this was such a good story, with a few real surprises as the story worked itself through, with links between its many characters slowly revealed, and very cleverly done. The world of estate agents might not be anyone’s initial idea of a good read, but the author’s evident insights into how things work in that world gave it real authenticity. But this book’s greatest strength is its characters – I took to Lottie immediately, and particularly liked her relationship with father Jack, but many others take their turn at centre stage, all quite perfectly drawn. Mother-in-law Pamela is a particular tour-de-force, totally horrendous when first encountered but with depths and long-kept secrets, and the way her character develops through the story is just perfectly done.
There are so many threads to this book, all wonderfully entangled and then so deftly teased apart. There are lots of themes too – family, friendships, some lovely (and sometimes unexpected) touches of romance, a glimpse into the world of celebrity and its impacts – with humour and emotion perfectly judged throughout. I thoroughly enjoyed this book – an author to watch, and I do rather hope she’ll return to Lottie, her family and friends for another book.
About the author
Lisa grew up in the village of Bussage, near Stroud, in the Cotswolds until she returned to Cheltenham as a teenager. She is married to her very own hero, Matt, and has three sons, Hamish, Archie and Laurence. Her first encounter of a romance author was chats over the garden wall between her father, Godfrey, and Mrs Cooper from the neighbouring village of Bisley. It came as quite a surprise in later life to find that Mrs Cooper was in fact Jilly Cooper! Lisa’s writing inspiration now comes from other Cotswolds authors including Jill Mansell and Katie Fforde.
Lisa writes contemporary women’s fiction with a light-hearted tone. What interests her most is people, their interactions, emotions and relationships. It’s probably why her career to date has been based in property; she confesses herself that she is ‘naturally curious’.
When she’s not busy writing, helping Matt run his electrical empire, or being her sons’ taxi service, Lisa enjoys long walks with the family gundog, Sparky, and is training to be a counsellor where she hopes, one day, to be able to provide therapy in the form of writing to those who need it.
Lisa is a graduate of the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme and attributes this supportive and informative scheme to her career to date, including her debut novel, Meet Me at Number Five, and this year’s perfect summer read Heart in the Right Place.