I’m delighted today to be sharing my review of Magnolia House by Angela Barton on publication day: published by Choc Lit, the book is now available for kindle via Amazon, on all other major e-book platforms and as an audio download. My thanks to those lovely people at Choc Lit for providing me with an advance reading e-copy. Angela’s last book, Arlette’s Story, was one of my favourite books of last year (you’ll find my review here): this one is something very different, a contemporary romance, and I must say that I very much enjoyed it.
When you open up your home and your heart…
Rowan Forrester has it all – the happy marriage, the adorable dog, the good friends, the promising business and even the dream home after she and her husband Tom win a stunning but slightly dilapidated Georgian townhouse in London at auction.
But in the blink of an eye, Rowan’s picture-perfect life comes crashing down around her and she is faced with the prospect of having to start again.
To make ends meet she begins a search for housemates, and in doing so opens the door to new friends and new beginnings. But could she be opening the door to new heartbreak too?
My goodness, the first quarter of this book is heartbreaking – life “crashing down” just about sums it up really, as you wonder what more heartbreak one person can bear. I’ll admit too that I did get a little tangled up in the writing for a while – the descriptions of the changing seasons that opened the chapters were just a little bit flowery for my personal taste. But from the point the builders started work to change the house into three apartments, and Rowan took a holiday with her parents in France for a while, the book really grabbed me and hooked me in, and I found myself thoroughly enjoying it.
The characters really are excellent – while Rowan’s strength and resilience place you firmly in her corner, wanting to give her a big hug, it would be impossible to review this book without giving particular mention to Mason. Otherwise known as Ace, he’s a magnificent creation with his wonderful one-liners, sparkly Dior lipgloss and passion for Kylie Minogue. He might be a little over-the-top at times, but for me he absolutely made this book – and provided many of its laughs amid the challenges and issues others were facing. But there were other characters who fascinated too, particularly sister-in-law Libby – and a parallel thread I really liked, with her marriage disintegrating under the weight of secrets. And when things start to look up a little, what can I possibly tell you about Rowan’s love interest – but what a very lovely man!
The real surprise about this book was that running through the story of supportive friendships, second chances and fresh starts there’s a sub-plot that’s rather more unsettling – quite unexpected, totally believable, and its twists and turns particularly well handled. But when you finish, it’s the warmth of the story that really stays with you – a strong and believable romance, with characters of real strength striving to overcome the odds and find their happy endings. A lovely read.
About the author
Angela Barton was born in London and grew up in Nottingham. She is married with three grown up children and two spoilt spaniels she calls her ‘hairy daughters.’ Passionate about writing both contemporary and historical fiction, Angela has won and also been shortlisted for several writing competitions.
She reads avidly, makes book-related jewellery and loves a nice cup of tea. Having recently planted a field of lavender with her husband in south-west France, she is looking forward to spending more time writing in Charente and watching their lavender grow.
Angela is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and Nottingham Writers’ Studio, and writes for both Choc Lit and Ruby Fiction.