I’m really delighted today to be helping launch the blog tour and sharing my publication day review of Beneath Cornish Skies by Kate Ryder: the ebook is published today by Aria, with the paperback available on 1st April (available for preorder). 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).
Well, the New Year’s certainly started rather well – a new book from another favourite author. Have you read Secrets of the Mist? Kate is a wonderful storyteller, and this one was a quite excellent timeslip romance, well deserving its place on my Books of the Year list in 2019 – if you usually enjoy the same books that I do, you’ll love it (and it’s free via Kindle Unlimited – you’ll find my review here). And although they’re very different reads, I really enjoyed her two earlier books too – Summer in a Cornish Cove (you’ll find my review here) and the standalone sequel Cottage on a Cornish Cliff (review here). This book’s a standalone, and I was so looking forward to reading it…
To an outsider, Cassandra Shaw’s life looks perfect. She lives in a beautiful, luxurious house in the English countryside, with a handsome, wealthy boyfriend who insists she needn’t do a day’s work in her life. But Cassie knows that something is not right. Her boyfriend has grown colder, treating her more like a housekeeper than a future wife. And her time feels empty and purposeless.
Cassandra has always been riddled with insecurities and self-doubt, but, just for once, she decides to take a chance on a new beginning. She answers an advert for a live-in nanny, dog walker, cook and all-round ‘Superhuman’ for a family living in a rambling manor house on the rugged North Cornish coast. The work is hard and tiring, but Cassie has never felt so fulfilled.
As Cassie learns to connect with the natural beauty unfolding around her, Cornwall starts to offer up its secrets. Soon, Cassie starts wondering if she was drawn to this isolated part of the coast for a reason. Why was she guided to Foxcombe Manor? What are the flashes of light she sees in the valley? Is it her imagination or does someone brush past her? And who is the mysterious man living deep in the woods?
A beautiful romance with a hint of ghostliness, Beneath Cornish Skies is for anyone who has ever longed to start their lives again.
Just sometimes, it can take me a few chapters to settle into a story – but not this time. I really think the prologue to this book is quite superb – that dream filled with sensory experiences, the recognition, the reassurance, the glow. And then we’re into the real world… Cass’s life with long term partner David, a relationship that stemmed from strange beginnings, an uncomfortable one where one partner has all the power and Cass’ spark has been dimmed by their time together. Finding that he’s involved in a relationship, along with denying her need for motherhood, is the last straw… and Cass makes her bid for freedom, becoming “superwoman” to a family living in an old manor house in Cornwall.
I just loved the way she blossomed – her ongoing relationship with the horses she’s always loved (I’m not remotely “horsey”, but her affinity was so well drawn), her relationship with the family’s children, spreading her wings, discovering there’s a whole new world outside her previous existence. For me, the joy of this book was largely about seeing Cass take control of her life, growing in confidence, moving on – but there’s always that distinct possibility that she might choose the easier path, and your conviction as a reader that she really mustn’t do so.
In some ways this is a love story – her relationship with Luke, married to Amanda (David and her would really have been made for each other) and distinctly out of bounds to her. But he also helps her transition to her new life – and introduces her to a world of knowledge and feeling that she’s never experienced before. At first, I wasn’t entirely sure whether I liked his inclination to educate her with small lectures about history and the natural world – but as the book progressed, I decided I liked that element very much indeed.
I’d perhaps expected more of the paranormal, maybe a little timeslip – that’s not a criticism, just an observation. But the elements that there are are really well done – a ghost here and there, a feeling of foreboding attached to a setting (and particularly chilling), and a touch of “magic” that drives one of the book’s more dramatic moments. I thought it was perfectly judged – a shimmering at the edges, more about the interaction between then and now and the surrounding landscape, less overt and more affecting as a result.
I must mention too the exceptional sense of place throughout this book – first the South Downs, then North Cornwall. The depiction of the scenery and the natural world is particularly vivid – especially the Cornish clifftops and those holloways, the threatening woods – always with that feeling that there’s only the thinnest of veils between the past and present.
I loved this book, and read it in two wonderful sittings – it would have been one, but I sadly had to give in to sleep. The writing is excellent, the story entirely engaging with characters you really care about. The twists and turns, the secrets revealed… I loved it. Do give this one a try – very different, a story so well told, and highly recommended by me.
About the author
Kate Ryder is an award-winning, Amazon Kindle international best seller who writes timeslip and romantic suspense in a true-to-life narrative. On leaving school she studied drama but soon discovered her preference for writing plays rather than performing them! Since then, she has worked in the publishing, tour operating and property industries, and has travelled widely. Kate is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Society of Authors. In 2017, she signed a 4-book contract with Aria (digital imprint of award-winning independent publisher, Head of Zeus).
Summer in a Cornish Cove, a contemporary romantic suspense set on the Lizard Peninsula, gained her a nomination for the RNA’s 2018 Joan Hessayon award, while its standalone sequel, Cottage on a Cornish Cliff, reached the heady heights of #2 in Kindle Literary Sagas. Secrets of the Mist, a mysterious timeslip romance, not only achieved #1 Kindle best seller flags in the UK, Canada and Australia, but also reached #49 in Amazon UK Paid Kindle. In the original, self-published version (The Forgotten Promise) it was awarded the first Chill with a Book “Book of the Month”.
Originally hailing from the South East of England, today Kate lives on the Cornish side of the beautiful Tamar Valley with her husband and a collection of animals.