I’m thrilled today to be helping launch the blog tour for Boomerville at Ballymegille by Caroline James on publication day, and sharing my review: it’s now available for kindle (free via Kindle Unlimited) and in paperback via Amazon in the UK and US. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation and support, and to both Rachel and Caroline for my advance reading e-copy.
Do you know, I’m still kicking myself for not reading Caroline’s last book, Hattie Goes to Hollywood – I was (quite wrongly!) put off when I saw it called “a mystery”, and asked her for a guest post instead (you’ll find it here), and so regretted it when I saw the great reviews coming in. But you’ll find reviews here on Being Anne of Coffee Tea The Caribbean & Me, Jungle Rock, and the wonderful The Best Boomerville Hotel (all links are to my reviews) – along with a particularly lovely guest post that Caroline wrote for me back in 2017, on her special place, that you can read again here. Rachel tipped me off that this book was on its way – I already had my “closed” sign up for October, but there was absolutely no way I was going to miss out again. I’ve been so looking forward to spending more time at Boomerville with Jo and Hattie…!
Boomerville is back!
Join Hattie and Jo as they head to Southern Ireland to open Boomerville Manor, a holiday retreat for guests of ‘a certain age’. There’s Irish craic and shenanigans aplenty for the colourful cast of characters as everyone gathers for the grand opening.
Meet Melissa, an ex-cabaret singer running from her abusive husband, and Bill, a bachelor bullied from beyond the grave by the ghostly voice of his mother. Along with local bobby Harry the Helmet, ageing aquatic team the Boomerville Babes, eccentric artist Lucinda Gray, and heartthrob Finbar Murphy, they gather in Ireland and the fun begins. But murder is in the air and there’s mischief afoot. Will the residents get more than they bargained for at Boomerville?
Set in the beautiful Irish countryside, Boomerville at Ballymegille is a heart-warming story of friendship, fears and new beginnings.
When you’re really, really looking forward to a book, do you sometimes worry it might not live up to your expectations? Well, whether you’ve visited Boomerville before or not, I guarantee you’re going to love this one. I felt at home from first few pages, being with Jo and Hattie again – by halfway I’d roared with laughter (more than once) and was totally involved with all the characters new and old (and no matter how minor). The story had entirely hooked me – so I decided I’d better make an afternoon of it and just read to the end. This book is just wonderful – plenty of story to get your teeth into, some quite serious themes at times (so well handled), but sheer joy and entertainment from beginning to end.
The Boomerville brand has been such a massive success that Jo decides to find another property ripe for conversion – and she finds the perfect one near Kindale in rural Ireland, embarking on the task of licking the former Flatterley Manor into shape and preparing for an opening day to remember. She’s surrounded by a superb cast of willing local helpers – and then by friends she’d left behind in Cumbria, including the redoubtable Hattie. Against that backdrop, the book follows particularly closely the stories of two of the guests. Melissa’s trying to escape from her toxic marriage, and her husband is hellbent on not allowing that to happen: Bill has recently lost his mother, hoping for a fresh start, but struggles with the social interaction and just can’t escape his mother’s control or her voice from beyond the grave. There’s a quite wonderful juxtaposition of their two storylines – poignant, touching, engaging, emotional at times, sometimes with an edge of threat and danger – with the managed mayhem of the approaching opening day.
The characters are quite wonderful. If you’ve read the author’s other books you’ll already know Jo and Hattie – I still want Jo as my best friend (oh, and how could he – you’ll be as incensed as I was!), and Hattie continues to cause mayhem but always with a heart of gold. There are supporting characters you’ll remember if you read the first Boomerville book – Harry the Helmet, the divine (and unpredictable) art teacher Lucinda, gruff caretaker Alf, the shaman, even the family who run the Indian restaurant that Hattie loves. And there are new ones: I particularly liked Finbar with his warmth and blarney – taxi driver, entertainer and master of ceremonies, and rather a hunk with his sparkling eyes. And as villains go, you really don’t get a much more boo-hiss baddie than Melissa’s slimy husband, always planning his next move. And goodness, I haven’t even mentioned the dogs – oh, you’re going to love Tiny!
I was going to say that the pace of this book is a tad less frenetic, a bit more thoughtful, than the first book – but then I realised that wasn’t really true, bearing in mind some of the superb set pieces, Hattie’s regular antics, and the wonderful Audrey and the Boomerville Babes (particularly with their costumes and trampolines!). There’s a real edge of sadness at times though – the laughter’s never far away, but there’s plenty of emotional content too, a quite perfect balance. I actually found myself sobbing at one significant point in the story – and I doubt there’ll be many readers who won’t.
I know I keep referring to the earlier book, but that’s only because I loved it – if this is your first Boomerville experience, you can quite happily read and enjoy this one as a standalone. It’s a wonderful story of friendship and support and pulling together, the very definition of heartwarming and feel good, and I loved every single moment. And I must – without any detail, of course – say that I thought the ending was absolutely perfect, and entirely what I’d rather been hoping for. Without question, this was one of my books of the year.
About the author
Best-selling author of women’s fiction, Caroline James has owned and run businesses encompassing all aspects of the hospitality industry, a subject that often features in her novels. She is based in the UK but has a great fondness for travel and escapes whenever she can.
A public speaker, which includes talks and lectures on cruise ships world-wide, Caroline is also a consultant and food writer. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, the Society of Women’s Writer’s & Journalists and the Society of Authors and writes articles and short stories, contributing to many publications. Caroline also runs writing workshops.
In her spare time, Caroline can be found walking up a mountain with her two Westie dogs, sipping raspberry gin or relaxing with her head in a book and hand in a box of chocolates.
Books by Caroline James: