It’s always a pleasure to join a blog tour for one of Lucy Coleman’s lovely books, and today I’m delighted to share my review of Summer in Andalucia: published on 1st April by Boldwood Books, it’s now available for kindle (free via Kindle Unlimited), in paperback and as an audiobook. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation and support, and to the publishers for my advance reading ecopy (provided via netgalley).
I unfailingly enjoy Lucy Coleman’s books (I rather like to the books of Linn B. Halton too!). I loved her Christmas book last year, Christmas at Lock Keeper’s Cottage, and you’ll find my review here. But although she always has rather a special Christmas touch, I enjoy her summery books too – the last one I read was Summer in Provence (you’ll find my review here), read right back at the start of the first lockdown, and it was just the most perfect of escapes. So let’s take a closer look at her latest…
Lainey Summers feels blessed to have her dream job writing for a renowned foodie magazine. And the day she goes to interview chef Rick Oliver at his new restaurant—Aleatory—in London’s popular Piccadilly, is the start of an unexpected journey.
When Rick is offered the opportunity to jet off to a monastery in Andalucía, to film a cookery competition for Spanish TV, Lainey goes too, to cover the story.
Spending a month filming in the stunning Spanish countryside, soaking up the sights, sounds, smells and of course the cuisine, Lainey and Rick start to enjoy each other’s company. But their time together flies by too quickly, and before they know it, Rick and Lainey have to face going their separate ways.
With both their worlds shifting beneath them, the call of Andalucia and the call of happiness grows ever stronger. But with everything at stake, will they be able to take the chance of a happy-ever-after…
Let Lucy Coleman whisk you off on a sun-baked, life-affirming, total escape to beautiful Andalucia.
If you’re feeling as suffocated as I am after being confined to home for such a long time, I thoroughly recommend Lucy Coleman’s lovely books. This time it’s Andalucia, and I loved every moment of my virtual visit – the Hotel Monasterio de San Francisco in Palma del Rio and the Castle of Almodóvar del Río are now added to my growing bucket list, enticed by the great descriptions that are always a feature of the author’s writing. She has a quite wonderful eye for detail, particularly with the interiors – all the small features that bring a setting to life, with just enough history to fascinate – and it’s something I thoroughly enjoy. And it’s not “only” the wonderful descriptions, but the way she sees the settings through the eyes and emotional responses of her characters – but I think I might just have chosen to climb out of the car with Lainey on those hairpin bends on the approach to the castle too.
But this book is much more than an opportunity for some much needed armchair travel – there’s also an excellent story, with a growing romance at its centre that I very much enjoyed. Lainey is a feature writer at Upscale Dining magazine, who has developed a tentative friendship with chef Rick Oliver after an interview about his new restaurant Aleatory on London’s Green Park. His restaurant is a joint venture with his fiancée Cathy, a volatile and driven singing star whose investment has made the restaurant a reality, so although there’s a spark of chemistry between them she knows there’s no possibility of it being anything more. But when he offers her an exclusive, the opportunity to join him in Spain to cover a televised cookery competition featuring some of Europe’s emerging top chefs, it’s something it’s impossible to refuse.
I have to say that I found reading about all the wonderful food in this book sheer torture – I’m on an 800 calorie a day diet at the moment, and was salivating from the moment Lainey and her photographer were presented with three taster desserts on their initial visit to Aleatory. And my extreme suffering only continued – if the author has a special touch with describing interiors, she certainly also has a particular skill in describing food. This book is a foodie’s dream, as we follow the cookery challenge where the competitors create their own dishes using key ingredients from others that Rick creates. I loved being behind the scenes in the way the book allowed – with all the moments of drama, and the reversals in fortune of the key contenders (all well drawn individual characters).
The initial spark between Lainey and Rick continues to grow when in close proximity and a more informal setting, as they share meals and go exploring together, but Cathy is always the presence (albeit at the end of a phone) that makes anything more impossible. And that’s as far as I’m going to go… for any more, you’ll need to read it!
I very much liked Lainey’s back story too – the changing fortunes of the magazine she works for, her workplace friendships, and her relationship with her estranged parents. Her father was also a journalist, now a writer of best selling books, while her mother now lives in France, running a cookery retreat – and the book explores their relationships, and Lainey’s guilt about the part she might have played in creating the current situation. I will mention too, for those of you averse to the intrusion of the real world in your books, that are some signs of the approaching pandemic in the story’s denouement – but very gently done, and very much part of the story, only making it feel more like real life than it already did.
I read this book in a single sitting (glass of water in hand to stave off the hunger pangs) and must say that I enjoyed every moment. Had you asked me, I might have said that I sometimes prefer the books of Linn B. Halton (the author’s alter ego) to those of Lucy Coleman, but this was the book that changed my mind. The settings, the food, the characters and relationships, the focus on family and friendships, the slow burn romance with an uncertain outcome – everything combined to make this a book I really loved.
About the author
Lucy Coleman is a #1 bestselling romance writer, whose recent novels include Snowflakes over Holly Cove. She also writes under the name Linn B. Halton. She won the 2013 UK Festival of Romance: Innovation in Romantic Fiction award and lives in the Welsh Valleys. Lucy’s first title with Boldwood was A Springtime to Remember, published in December 2019.