It’s a real pleasure today to feature The Garden of Little Rose, the second in the Welcome to Thorndale series, by Suzanne Snow: published as an ebook on all major platforms by Canelo on 15th February, it’s now also available in paperback, published on 25th March.
I’m really not sure how I missed the first in the series, The Cottage of New Beginnings, because both books look just up my street – I most definitely plan to put that right and read this new one for a review in June.
Let’s take a closer look…
At a hen party on the remote Scottish island of Alana, Flora is dared to ask a handsome stranger to be her plus-one for the wedding. When the gorgeous Mac accepts her invitation, she assumes he’s joking and thinks nothing more of it … until he turns up at the church on the wedding day.
But Mac has an agenda. He wants to hire her skills as a garden historian to restore the gardens at Róisín House, his home back on Alana. Flora knows she should refuse – Mac has ‘heartbreaker’ written all over him – but she can’t resist uncovering the tragic truth behind the garden at Róisín. And when Flora meets a little girl on Alana living with devastating loss, a strong bond is created between them when Flora shares her passion and belief in the ability of a garden to heal. Transported by the beauty of the island, Flora can’t help but fall in love with Alana, and the man who brought her there.
But for love to grow, Flora will first have to dig up the past.
A heart-warming village love story for fans of Julie Houston, Victoria Walters and Trisha Ashley.
Yes, I really like the look of this one! I’m delighted to welcome Suzanne Snow as my guest, to tell us more about her love of landscape…
A love of landscape is something I’ve grown up with and appreciated all my life. This included many holidays in the UK, from coastal cottages in Cornwall to meandering along canals at a pace that can only be peaceful. The Scottish borders was where my husband and I were married and we honeymooned in the Highlands. Our wedding gift to each other was a mountain bike and we set off to explore this most wonderful and exciting of places from a new perspective.
This love of landscape and Scotland led me to choose a Hebridean island for the setting of my second book, The Garden of Little Rose in the Welcome to Thorndale series. Flora, a garden historian, and her two best friends arrive at an island hotel for a spa weekend. This time together turns out quite differently to how she imagines after she is dared to invite a stranger to be her plus-one for a wedding, and the gorgeous Mac accepts. She also discovers an abandoned garden on the island and is certain it has a story to tell.
I was drawn to create an Arts & Crafts garden for the book, finding romance in formal structure softened by abundant planting and the history of such places, so often deeply personal. This became Róisín House and a fictional Hebridean island I named Alana the setting for it. I love to write about rural locations with communities at their heart and the wilderness of an island such as this, surrounded by sea and sometimes solitude, was an easy decision to make.
My setting was partly inspired by the tiny island of Gigha, off the Kintyre peninsula with Islay behind and Jura close by. I took a wonderful road trip to see it on my own, wanting to stop the car every couple of miles to marvel at the views of lochs and distant islands. I couldn’t, of course, until I reached the ferry crossing and dashed out to take photos from the beach with the island tantalisingly close, just across the water glittering beneath the sunlight.
A visit to the Hebrides offers a wonderful balance between searching out peace, truly a setting to appreciate views that are utterly breathtaking, and opportunities to wander the hillsides or swim in the sea or lochs. I find such places inspiring as I imagine characters whose lives have long been lived there and those who might be newly arrived, and why. Museums tell the history of the islands, how and when they were settled, and by whom. Artists, writers, photographers, walkers, cyclists, all and more are drawn here to stop a moment, search out a story, capture a view and think of the people who have gone before. A history halved, a tale told. A future still, communities evolving.
I left the car to roam when I arrived on Gigha, feeling as though I was stepping in the footsteps of my characters once again. The secluded beach I write about in the book is imaginary, as are the cottages beside it, but the white sands, gently sloping hills and turquoise waters warmed by the Gulf Stream are perfectly real and every bit as beautiful as you might imagine. I paddled in the sea and dodged the cows wandering down to the water. I am no sailor but watching the yachts mooring at the jetty to discover the island left me wishing that I were. What a way to arrive.
Flora has the opportunity to explore the island of Alana and finds herself falling in love in ways she does not expect. I wrote about a ceilidh, where everyone is always invited and the door left open for guests. About a family, finding ways to go on when loved ones’ lives had been halted. Hope for the future, hurt beginning to heal and a community drawing around the people at its heart. I’m not quite sure I’ve finished writing about Alana yet and another trip to the Hebrides would definitely help with research I love to do.
Thank you Suzanne – that’s another road trip for my bucket list! My thanks to Katrina Power for the introduction to Suzanne and her books – this is one I’m very much looking forward to reading.
About the author
Suzanne Snow writes romantic, uplifting fiction with a strong sense of setting and community connecting the lives of her characters, finding inspiration in beautiful views, old houses and abundant gardens. The Garden of Little Rose is Suzanne’s second novel in the Welcome to Thorndale series. Her first novel, The Cottage of New Beginnings, is also published by Canelo.
After working in financial services and then spending several years as a stay-at-home mum, Suzanne was ready for a change. Her interest in horticulture led her to study for RHS qualifications at agricultural college in Yorkshire, enabling her to pursue a new career planting redesigned gardens.
Suzanne has sung in a choir, trained as a worship leader and raised money for charity by making huge volumes of soup for anyone she can persuade to buy it. She is an infrequent horse rider after years competing in dressage, and a ranch holiday in Montana is top of her bucket list.
She lives in Lancashire with her family and loves to read, particularly historical crime and biographies of writers. She also enjoys walking, cooking for family and friends, and watching movies, especially if they have a happy ending.
Suzanne is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and the Society of Authors.