It’s a real pleasure today to be helping launch the blog tour for The Cosy Cottage in Ireland by Julie Caplin, the eighth book in the Romantic Escapes series, and to share my publication day review. Out today from One More Chapter, it’s now available for kindle, with the paperback and audiobook to follow on 9th December (both available for pre-order). 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).
I’m sure that most people will already know that Julie Caplin is the alter ego of Jules Wake, who’s now firmly ensconced in my list of favourite authors – just pop her name in my search bar (down the side) and you’ll find quite a few reviews of her wonderful books. Have you read her latest, The Secrets of Latimer House, her first foray into historical fiction? It’s quite wonderful, and you really must – you’ll find my review here. But I’ve only read one other book in this lovely series – who wouldn’t enjoy a romantic escape? – only because the timings just didn’t quite work for me. But I did manage to read and really enjoy the sixth in the series, The Little Teashop in Tokyo, and you’ll find my review here. So I was delighted when I found I could fit another into my reading list…
Snuggle up in your favourite armchair and take a trip across the Irish sea for comfort food, cosy cottage nights and a heartwarming romance…
Talented lawyer Hannah Campbell is after a change in her workaholic Manchester life – so on an uncharacteristic whim she books herself a place at the world-renowned Killorgally Cookery School in Country Kerry. But on her first night in Ireland, sampling the delights of Dublin, Hannah can’t resist falling for the charms of handsome stranger Conor. It’s only when Hannah arrives at her postcard-pretty home at Killorgally for the next six weeks that she discovers what happens in Dublin doesn’t quite stay in Dublin …
Nestled amongst rolling green hills and breath-taking countryside, the cookery school throws Hannah and Conor together – for better or worse.
This was a book that drew me in from its opening pages – Hannah’s a very driven lawyer from Manchester who’s decided to step out of her comfort zone with a six week stay at the prestigious Killorgally Cookery School in County Kerry, and I liked her immediately. Staying over in Dublin before the course starts, she has a chance meeting with Conor, handsome and charismatic – and acts totally out of character, ending up in his bed on the principle that “what happens in Dublin…”, sneaking out in the early hours to start her big adventure. But her little mistake follows her – Killorgally is Conor’s family home, he’s a celebrity chef who’s walked away from fame and all the problems it brings, and he’s none too pleased to find her as one of the new intake of students.
The whole set-up of the cookery school is just wonderful – a working farm in a beautiful location, surrounded by various kinds of accommodation, the students expected to share in some of the daily tasks of tending the animals and working in the grounds. I always love an ensemble piece, and the characterisation is so well done – a group of individuals all on the course for their own reasons and with their own stories, slowly getting to know each other, seeing each other at their best and worst, every one of them intriguing and perfectly drawn. And as they learn their new skills – a particular challenge for Hannah – we follow the developing relationship between her and Conor, a believable and lovely slow-burn romance with a few significant stumbling blocks along the way.
Do you know, there was nothing about this book that I didn’t enjoy. I really loved the whistle stop tours of Dublin, and the Kerry setting of the cookery school – there are some evenings at the pub for local colour, some of the loveliest trips out to explore the area (on one occasion, by kayak – that was particularly special), and I felt entirely transported by the author’s descriptions. As it’s a cookery school, there’s plenty of focus on the food they produce and the meals they share – and the tasks they carry out around the farm (and the quieter moments that sometimes accompany them) add to the interest and some of the many moments of humour.
The interplay between the students is wonderful – and I loved all the little touches, especially the ever-present swear jar that Jason seems to have the monopoly on filling. There’s plenty of drama and intrigue to keep the pages turning, a nice focus on family complexities, a few surprises – and the slowly developing relationship between Hannah and Conor really was everything I wanted it to be (and perhaps a little more – I never knew doing jigsaws together could be so sexy!) with the most perfect chemistry.
When I finished reading, I closed this book with a smile, having thoroughly enjoyed my stay in the Kerry countryside but sorry to leave my friends behind. The whole book really was like the warmest of hugs – and I recommend it really highly.
About the author
Julie Caplin, formerly a PR director, swanned around Europe for many years taking top food and drink writers on press trips (junkets) sampling the gastronomic delights of various cities in Italy, France, Belgium, Spain, Copenhagen and Switzerland. It was a tough job but someone had to do it.
These trips have provided the inspiration and settings for her Romantic Escapes series which have been translated into fifteen different languages.
The first book in the series, The Little Café in Copenhagen, was shortlisted for a Romantic Novel of the Year Award.