It’s a real pleasure today to be joining the blog tour and sharing my review of We Belong Together by Beth Moran: published by Boldwood Books on 17th August, it’s now available as an ebook, 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 e-copy (provided via netgalley).
It was a delight to discover Beth’s lovely writing when I read and reviewed Take a Chance on Me earlier this year (you’ll find my review here) – I adored the Donovan family, the whole story was something really different, and the author had the perfect emotional touch. So I’m really thrilled to be trying her writing again – I was really looking forward to this one…
Eleanor Sharpley has been living a lie…
Needing to escape her London life quickly, Eleanor throws her things into the back of her car, and heads to her erstwhile best friend Charlie’s family farm.
But Charlie isn’t there. Instead she finds Charlie’s grieving brother Daniel, her eight-month old daughter Hope (a daughter Eleanor had known nothing about), and a crumbling and unloved Damson Farm.
Damson Farm lies at the edge of the village of Ferrington, with the river Maddon flowing at its heart. But Ferrington is a village divided by more than just a river – it is split in two by an age-old feud – between the Old Side and the New Side. Eleanor has run from her problems, straight into a family and a world that has problems of its own.
But Damson Farm has magic too, and as winter gives way to spring, the old farm starts to come to life under Eleanor’s love and care. The orchard starts to blossom with daffodils and bluebells, and the sound of bees busy in their hives fills the warming air. Can Eleanor bring Daniel and the feuding village of Ferrington back to life too, or will her secrets catch up with her first?
It’s not very often that I take to Twitter as soon as I finish a book to share how much I enjoyed it, but with this book I just had to. I loved everything about this really original and well-told story – characters, setting, friendships, romance, the mystery, the humour – and was so delighted to discover that Beth Moran’s writing just gets better and better.
Fleeing London and her high-flying life, Eleanor hopes to find refuge with her friend Charlie at Damson Farm – but instead she finds Charlie’s grieving brother Daniel, caring as well as he can for Charlie’s small daughter Hope, and the farm in a very poor state of repair. They develop a friendship, and Eleanor sets about turning the farm into a cared-for home while giving Daniel some respite in his duty of care – and when she discovers a notebook setting out Charlie’s vision for the home she loved, it gives her fresh purpose and a target to achieve.
But there’s more that needs repairing than their broken hearts and the down-at-heel property, with Ferrington a village divided by more than the bridge-less River Madden, the Old Side and New Side at odds, with long and bitter memories of the miners’ strike. As Eleanor begins her mission to bring the community together, there are new friendships, and some wonderful small storylines – but then her former life begins to catch up with her, a stalker that threatens everything around her new life, with a real edge of threat and danger.
This book really did have a bit of everything I love about a book – wonderful storytelling, the perfect emotional touch when dealing with grief and loss but also with the romance and moments of joy, the kind of friendships that totally warm your heart, and a light humour running through that never failed to make me smile. The whole premise for the stalker storyline was quite inspired – their identity might not have been such a surprise, but that certainly didn’t lessen the way it made the pages turn even faster than they already were, and that whole edge of threat and danger was exceptionally well handled. The slow-burn romance between Eleanor and Daniel was everything I wanted it to be – first an uneasy friendship, then that lovely spark that always warms the heart, and I loved both characters. The story is told by Eleanor in the first person, and she has a clear and distinctive voice – but we find out enough about Daniel and his thoughts and feelings to make him a fully-rounded character too.
The book’s sense of place and all the supporting characters are simply wonderful – the friendships she makes, the way she brings people together, all those small wins along the path to healing the yawning rift in the village. We do get to meet Eleanor’s parents and grandmother too, running their guest house in the Lakes – they’re a rich source of humour, but the relationship between them all is beautifully done too.
The book promised to be heartwarming and feel-good, and it really knocked it out of the park – it made me laugh, it made me cry, I fell in love with the characters, and the whole story was exceptionally original and so well handled. Beth Moran is now on my “must read” list for everything she does – I really loved this one, and recommend it most highly.
About the author
Beth Moran is the author of four previous romance novels, including Making Marion. She regularly features on BBC Radio Nottingham and is a trustee of the national women’s network Free Range Chicks. She lives on the outskirts of Sherwood Forest. Beth’s first novel for Boldwood, Christmas Every Day, was published in September 2019.