It’s a real pleasure today to be joining the blog tour and sharing my review of Foxglove Farm by Christie Barlow, the second in the Love Heart Lane series: published by HarperImpulse on 28th June, it’s now available for kindle via Amazon in the UK and US, and the paperback will follow in September. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation and support, and to the publishers for my advance reading copy (provided via netgalley).
It really did take me far too long to discover Christie’s lovely writing. I thoroughly enjoyed the first book in this series, Love Heart Lane – you’ll find my review here – and I was very much looking forward to returning to Heartcross again…
Return to Love Heart Lane for friendship, romance and a community who will be be there for you no matter what…
Isla and Drew Allaway appear to have the perfect life – a strong marriage, two beautiful children and their picture-perfect home, Foxglove Farm. But, new mum Isla is struggling. She loves her little family but with Drew working all hours on the farm, Isla’s lonely.
When she discovers that Drew has been keeping secrets from her, Isla has to face losing the home they all love.
Can the Love Heart Lane community pull together once more to help save Foxglove Farm? And can Isla save her home…and her marriage?
I very rarely follow a series of books, but was really looking forward to seeing how life had moved on for the characters I’d taken to my heart. But I did particularly like the fact that my enjoyment didn’t depend on my remembering the events of the earlier book: this one is entirely self-contained, following different characters but with all the other familiar ones in supporting roles.
It’s a surprisingly emotional story – a marriage in a state of disintegration, every attempt to mend it only making things many times worse, some moments of high drama and more than a few tears along the way. But there’s lightness too – this is a romantic comedy after all – and I particularly loved the introduction of grandmother Martha, who initially seemed like the most unwelcome of house guests but played such a central role as the story unfolded. One of the author’s great strengths is in creating characters who are real people – the good, and the ones who perhaps aren’t quite what they at first appear to be – and in the way she creates a community that you entirely become part of, enjoying the supportive friendships, entering the hearts of its families.
I really liked the original and well-meaning birthday gift that exacerbates so many of Isla and Drew’s problems – and the path they found towards their fresh start and putting things right again. I also very much appreciated the fact that the book didn’t shy away from issues – personal, and at a relationship level – as the story moved towards the hoped for and increasingly unlikely happy ending.
I’m not always a fan of romantic comedy, but this book is many miles away from the usual boy meets girl and the challenges they overcome – it has depth and a really sure emotional touch that makes you feel for its characters, plenty of mystery and drama to make the pages turn faster, and a real authenticity in the way the relationships are portrayed. And the writing is excellent – a well-drawn setting, real-life characters with all their faults and foibles, perfectly paced, well-written dialogue that moves the story forward and gives insight into the characters, quite a few surprises, and a beautifully crafted and heartwarming story. I very much enjoyed this one – and I’m already looking forward to the next…
About the author
Christie Barlow is the author of A Year in the Life of a Playground Mother, The Misadventures of a Playground Mother, Kitty’s Countryside Dream, Lizzie’s Christmas Escape, Evie’s Year of Taking Chances, The Cosy Canal Boat Dream, A Home at Honeysuckle Farm, Love Heart Lane and Foxglove Farm. Her writing career came as somewhat of a surprise when she decided to write a book to teach her children a valuable life lesson and show them that they are capable of achieving their dreams. The book she wrote to prove a point is now a #1 bestseller in the UK, USA & Australia. Christie is an ambassador for @ZuriProject raising money/awareness and engaging with impoverished people in Uganda through organisations to improve their well-being.