It’s a real pleasure today to be joining the blog tour (last day!) for Starcross Manor by Christie Barlow, and sharing my review: published by One More Chapter on 14th August, the kindle version is available now via Amazon in the UK and US. The audiobook will follow on 17th September, and the paperback on 12th November (both available for pre-order). My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation and support, and to the publishers for my advance reading e-copy (provided via netgalley).
This book is the fourth in the Love Heart Lane series, and I must say that it’s a series I’m thoroughly enjoying. It hooked me from the first book in the series, Love Heart Lane (you’ll find my review here): and then I was delighted that I enjoyed the second, Foxglove Farm, every bit as much (review here). I just couldn’t fit in the reading of the third, Clover Cottage – but that’s something really nice about that series, because each book focuses on different characters, so (unless you want to, of course!) you really don’t have to read every book. That really is my kind of series – and I’ll look forward to dipping in whenever I can. And it’s lovely on each visit to catch up with some of the other characters whose company I’ve so enjoyed…
Dying to know more about the brooding and mysterious Flynn Carter and the secrets behind his plans for Starcross Manor?
You won’t want to miss the next spellbinding chapter in the Love Heart Lane series – where friends are there for you no matter what.
When Julia Coleman meets Flynn Carter again in the cosy village of Heartcross it can only mean trouble. Flynn might be rich, brooding and sexy, but Julia knows first-hand he’s ruthless and she plans to watch his every move.
When Julia discovers Flynn’s plans for beautiful Starcross Manor her greatest fears come true. Because Flynn’s dreams of turning Starcross into a luxury hotel could ruin Julia’s dreams…and finish off the community of Heartcross for good.
Flynn makes it clear he doesn’t want trouble, and he’s not the man Julia thinks he is. As he sets about convincing the community he’s changed, he hopes he can convince Julia to give him another chance too…
How thoroughly lovely it was to be back in Heartcross – I really do love this series, and I was really looking forward to spending time in the company of friends again. This time, it’s Julia at the B&B who’s the focus for the story – she’s made appearances in earlier books, but it was so good to get to know her rather better. She’s a little older, which is always something I really appreciate, because it can make a character easier for me to identify with: I particularly liked her relationship with her friend and sidekick Eleni, and really loved her infectious enthusiasm for developing her business further.
But there’s a shadow on the horizon, in the shape of Flynn Carter – he’s bought nearby Starcross Manor, and rather than turning it into the retirement development the villagers were rather expecting, it’s going to be a luxury hotel and wedding venue. That’s something that will threaten the livelihoods of quite a few of the villagers, but especially Julia’s plans for expanding the B&B – and she has history with Flynn, and a few very good reasons to neither like nor trust him.
The story is essentially a fairly classic enemies-to-friends one, with a good bit of tension and conflict, and more than a touch of things not being quite what they seem. There’s some particularly well written drama too, and an opportunity for all the villagers to pull together as they always do when the chips are down.
The characters are really excellent – I loved Julia from her first appearance, but Flynn’s character is developed so very well too. Did I mention that he’s rather hot? And he has hidden depths and a side to him that you really won’t be expecting – but you’ll need to discover that for yourself. But it’s not just Julia and Flynn who are great characters and very real people – every single supporting character, even the very minor ones like the guests at the B&B, is drawn in three dimensions with their quirks and foibles.
The writing is really excellent – so comfortable to read, infused with warmth, easy to escape into, well written dialogue and interplay between the characters, and the whole book a perfect balance of drama with lightness and humour. There’s a very strong sense of place too – the descriptions of the story’s setting are excellent, and I’m really getting to know Heartcross itself rather well now. But I really enjoyed the added dimension of Starcross Manor – its grounds, the luxurious interior, and the way the little touches of interior decoration drove the story forward at times and contributed to the character development.
This was a really lovely read, and highly recommended – and I’m already looking forward to the fifth book in the series, The Lake House, due out on 10th December (available for preorder).
About the author
Christie Barlow is the number 1 International bestselling author of ten bestsellers including A Home at Honeysuckle Farm, Love Heart Lane and Clover Cottage. Her writing career came as somewhat 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, Canada & Australia.