It’s a real pleasure today to be joining the blog tour and sharing my review of That Holiday In France, the latest of the Trewton Royd small town romances by Rhoda Baxter: published on 27th May, it’s now available for kindle and in paperback via Amazon in the UK and US. My thanks to Sarah at Book On The Bright Side for the invitation and support – I received a free ecopy of the book to read and review.
Goodness, it’s such a long time since I last read one of Rhoda’s books! I’ve meant to on umpteen occasions – and she’s always one of my very favourite people to spend time with at any events I attend – but something has always happened (life, eh?) to make it impossible. In fact, the last (and to my shame, only) book I’ve read from Rhoda was Please Release Me way back in 2015 – but I can still remember how very much I enjoyed it, and you’ll find my review here (together with the loveliest guest post about the Martin House children’s hospice at Wetherby). This is the fifth Trewton Royd romance, but 100% readable as a stand-alone – and I thought it was thoroughly lovely…
When Ellie’s boyfriend forbids her from going to France to attend her best friend’s wedding, she decides she’s had enough. She dumps him and goes to France by herself. But travelling alone is scary and Ellie realises how reliant she’d become on the men in her life.
On holiday, she learns to trust her own judgement and grows in confidence. Just when she decides she doesn’t need a man to complete her, she meets Ash, who is everything her ex wasn’t.
But is Ellie willing to give up her new found independence and link herself to another man?
- Friends to lovers
- Heroine asserting her independence
- Summer in France
- Tiny puddings
That Holiday In France is a standalone story set in the little Yorkshire village of Trewton Royd. Ideal for fans of Mhairi McFarlane or Sophie Kinsella.
My first visit to Trewton Royd, and I do wish I’d discovered it earlier – not because I needed to in order to enjoy this lovely novella, but because I’d have really liked to get to know some of the subsidiary characters rather better.
Especially Sue at Pat’s Pantry – I thought she was a wonderful character, supporting and defending Ellie as she tries to extricate herself from a particularly toxic and oppressive relationship and decides to attend her best friend’s wedding in France. Ellie’s father was a really well-drawn character too – not a bad man, just a dyed-in-the-wool Yorkshireman whose only brush with “abroad” brought him heartbreak that shaped his attitude to anything “foreign”. And he’s understandably frightened that he’ll lose his daughter when she spreads her wings – he looks after her, and she looks after him.
But she sticks to her guns, and bravely sets off for the wedding – and the trip to London, to meet up with travelling companion Ash, is just the beginning of her distinctly unsettling experience. At first, she takes her father’s attitudes with her – that aversion to anything and anyone not steeped in Yorkshire – and struggles with the discomfort she feels. But I really enjoyed the way she blossomed – discovered her own strengths, and that “different” really isn’t at all synonymous with “bad” or “frightening”.
As this is a novella – just 200 immensely readable pages – I won’t explore the story much further in case I spoil it for you. But I will say that I really enjoyed the writing – the author gets right inside Ellie’s skin, at the same time exploring some quite big issues around racism and xenophobia, as her always lovable heroine begins to form her own opinions and become her own person.
The French country house setting is beautifully drawn, along with the relationships between the characters as they begin to find common ground. And there’s a rather lovely developing romance too – nicely handled, warm and believable (a man who reads – you know he’s a good one straight away!), but with a little bit of conflict and misunderstanding along the way.
And I loved the story’s ending – if I’m really intent on not spoiling the book for you, I can’t tell you much more about that. But there have certainly been a few other big misunderstandings too, that have rather shaped Ellie’s life, and her new insights warmed my heart and had me cheering her on.
This was a read filled to overflowing with bravery and love, with characters you really take to your heart, and I found it tremendously uplifting. Beautifully done – a light and lovely summer read, with enough depth and shadows to make it something really different, and a definite recommendation from me.
About the author
Rhoda Baxter writes romantic comedies about strong heroines and nice-guy heroes. Having studied microbiology at university, Rhoda likes all things science geeky. She also loves cake, crochet and playing with Lego. She lives in Yorkshire with her young family and wishes she had more time to bake.
You can find out more about her (and get a free book by signing up to her newsletter) on her website.