I’m delighted today to be joining the blog tour for High Blue Sky by Victoria Connelly, and to share my review. The second in The House in the Clouds trilogy, independently published on 5th October, this lovely book is now available for kindle (free via Kindle Unlimited) and in paperback via Amazon in the UK and US. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation and support, and to the author for my advance reading e-copy.
It took me rather longer than it should have done to discover Victoria Connelly’s gorgeous writing, but I did finally get round to reading The Book Lovers – it had always looked like one I’d enjoy, and I most certainly did (you’ll find my review here). And then came a standalone, The Beauty of Broken Things – I unreservedly loved it, one of my 2020 Books of the Year, a very special book indeed (you’ll find my review here). When I heard about this new trilogy, I’d really planned to read every book – but must apologise that things have been a little busy and I just didn’t manage to read the first, The House in the Clouds, before settling down with this one (but it is on my kindle, waiting for the opportunity). It’s never ideal to start with the second in a series, but I must say it caused no problems at all – I soon fell in love with Winfield Hall in the same way Abi and Edward had, and immersed myself in this story focused on their two new tenants…
What would you sacrifice to be with the person you love?
Summer has arrived and it’s over a year since strangers Abigail and Edward bought Winfield Hall at auction and restored it together. Now, two new tenants are about to join them at their beautiful Georgian home.
Workaholic Harry Freeman has forgotten what it is to relax so when he meets healer, Aura Arden, and learns to meditate with her, he can’t believe how good he feels and he soon finds himself falling for her. But, with her bare feet and crystal beads, Aura’s not a big hit with Harry’s old-fashioned parents, and he finds himself torn between the people he loves most in the world. It isn’t just Harry and Aura finding love.
Summer has woven its spell over Edward and his brother Oscar, and both are making a play for Abi. But Abi isn’t happy at having to choose between these two very different men and, when Oscar’s behavior spirals out of control, she realizes that some decisions can have devastating consequences.
High Blue Sky is the second novel in the heart-warming trilogy from the bestselling author of The Rose Girls and The Book Lovers series.
Well, I can certainly see why Abi and Edward fell in love with Winfield Hall and decided to share its ownership – I’ve rather fallen for it too. I really like the way the french windows in their apartments give them access to that glorious garden – what a wonderful way to escape from the stresses and strains of life. And with work now complete on two other apartments in the building, they’re ready to welcome two new tenants. In fact, Harry’s already in residence in the flat Edward’s renovated – he works in advertising, looking for a bit of change to his hectic lifestyle, but the stress seems to have followed him and he’s busier than ever, unable to enjoy everything his new home has to offer. Abi’s looking for someone artistic and creative for the apartment she has available, happy to lower the rent for the right person – and she finds just the one in Aura, a healer very out of place in her former urban setting, who can’t believe her luck in securing such a beautiful home.
Harry and Aura rather unexpectedly become friends – and with the help of her beloved crystals and some sessions of meditation, he begins to slow his life down and become calmer and more grounded. And there’s a spark of attraction too – they couldn’t be more different people, but he loves the way she makes him feel. His parents – who’ve always driven his need for success – are less taken by her with her bare feet and beads, having always imagined a rather different partner for their son. And things only get more difficult when he realises that the work he’s doing is hardly compatible with Aura’s love of nature and ethical principles – they have a difficult journey ahead.
Meanwhile, Edward has discovered a growing attraction to Abi – but he’s frightened of doing anything about it in case it affects their friendship and makes sharing their home difficult. And, in any case, she seems considerably more taken by his feckless brother Oscar – however bad and dangerous to know he might be.
This book is just gorgeous – wonderfully drawn characters who develop as the book progresses, and I really took them all to my heart. I enjoyed finding out more about Aura’s interests – the world of healing and meditation and the power of crystals has always been rather unknown territory, but the calmness brought about by her interventions was quite wonderful and made me want to book my own session. The insights into Abi’s artistic endeavours were fascinating too, making use of her new printing press that’s taken pride of place in her new lounge. But I particularly loved the story – the characters feeling their way forward, the relationships between them, the obstacles they need to overcome, all set against the most beautifully drawn backdrop of their home and the natural world.
The pace is gentle, but there are quite a few moments of drama – a bit of ugliness that intrudes on the beauty and perfection of the lifestyle they’ve all chosen. The prejudice shown by Harry’s parents is particularly well handled – as is its path to resolution. The book’s emotional touch is gentle too, and perfectly judged – there’s real warmth about the writing, and it’s driven by the excellent development of all the characters.
The ending is perhaps a little “open” – but this is the second in a three part series, and it leaves just enough threads dangling to make you want to read on. I’ll look forward to doing so – I’d really like to spend more time at Winfield Hall, the characters have become my friends, and I rather like it there.
About the author
Victoria Connelly lives in a 500-year old thatched cottage in rural Suffolk with her artist husband, a springer spaniel and a flock of ex-battery hens. She is the million-selling author of two bestselling series, The Austen Addicts and The Book Lovers, as well as many other novels and novellas. Her first published novel, Flights of Angels, was made into a film in Germany. Victoria loves books, films, walking, historic buildings and animals. If she isn’t at her keyboard writing, she can usually be found in her garden either with a trowel in her hand or a hen on her lap.