It’s a real pleasure today to be helping launch the blog tour for The Sister Pact by Lisa Swift, and to share my publication day review. This is the third of her Leyholme Village series, published by Hera Books, and is now available for kindle via Amazon, and also for Kobo and through Apple Books: the paperback will follow on 21st October. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation and support, and to the author and publisher for my advance reading copy.
I always feel a little ashamed when I start a review with “this is the third”, and can’t share a review link for books one and two. I’ve never read a book from Lisa Swift before, but I have very much enjoyed the short stories she wrote as her alter ego Mary Jayne Baker for the Miss Moonshine anthologies – and, of course, I’ve always been aware of the beautiful covers she’s designed for some of my favourite books. This one looked right up my street, and I was really looking forward to trying one of her novels at long last…
Thirty-year-old Brooke Padgett is the landlady of The Highwayman’s Drop in the beautiful Yorkshire village of Leyholme. Commitment-averse and obsessed with work, she isn’t looking for anything serious – and she certainly isn’t interested in the pub’s new barman, gorgeous single dad Hayden. Or is she?
Older sister Rhianna Garrett has fled wealthy husband James after discovering his infidelity. As she moves back to the pub with her children in tow, it’s clear that living together will be tricky for these two very different sisters…
Meanwhile, their widowed mum Janey is keen to rejoin the dating scene. But a lot has changed since her youth in the seventies – and she’ll need the help of her girls.
As the sisters join forces to help Janey, as well as fight off the chain circling the pub, their relationship becomes close once again. Until Brooke discovers Rhianna is hiding a secret that could drive a wedge between them all…
Can the two sisters come together to save The Highwayman’s Drop, their mum’s love life – and their relationship?
The Highwayman’s Drop has been going through difficult times recently – the walkers and day-trippers just don’t seem to be visiting any more, and the small collection of loyal local customers isn’t enough to guarantee its survival. Their father left the pub to his wife Janey and his daughters Brooke and Rhianna – you’ll find Brooke behind the bar these days, a little bit rough round the edges but the perfect landlady with her smile and line in banter. Janey’s taken up residence in the kitchen, in the hope that offering food might bring the punters in – but her efforts might just be more likely to put them off.
Rhianna’s moved on to pastures new, living the high life in leafy Cheshire – until she discovers that her husband’s been playing away, and returns to the pub with her two children in tow. The sisters have always had a difficult relationship – Rhianna was the one who went to the posh school, had the good education, fell on her feet with a rich husband – and although Brooke couldn’t be happier than continuing her life in the pub fulfilling her father’s legacy, and she’s her sister after all, when they’re forced together the sparks really start to fly.
As the corporate vultures start to circle, it might seem a strange time to be taking on staff – but Hayden might just be what the pub needs, and not just because Janey’s rather taken by the look of his bum. He might be just the distraction that Brooke needs too – but he’s a single father, and his twin girls mean it just can’t be a possibility given her aversion to children. And, in the midst of it all, Janey decides it might just be time that she thought about moving on by dipping her toe into the world of on-line dating…
I really loved this book. The relationship between the two sisters sparks and fizzles throughout – their exchanges are just wonderful, the long-held resentments coming to the surface, their different lifestyle choices coming between them, their different views on what the future might hold. But I also loved the closeness between them – those bonds of family that become clearer and stronger as the story progresses. And, although I’m not always the greatest fan of children in books, Rhianna’s pair are quite superbly drawn – brought up as posh kids, unused to fish finger sandwiches on their laps, needing to modify their accents so they won’t stand out when they start at the village school, and thoroughly lovable.
As push comes to shove for the future of the pub – the theme nights and the speed-dating help, but really don’t look like they’ll be able to save it – those family bonds really are tested to breaking point. I loved the whole relationship between Brooke and Hayden too – a strong and believable romance but with so many obstacles in its way – and so wanted them to get their happy ending. The humour throughout is just perfect, ever present but never over-the-top – and the author has an equally perfect emotional touch, with characters who entirely win your heart.
With its strong and distinctive Yorkshire accent, there are obvious comparisons with the books of Milly Johnson and Julie Houston, and you’ll already know how much I love them – but Lisa Swift has a voice and style all of her own, is most certainly an equally gifted story-teller. I thought this book was quite wonderful, and enjoyed every single moment – I might not have read any of the author’s books before, but I’ll most certainly be back for more.
About the author
Lisa Swift is a romance author from West Yorkshire in the UK, represented by Laura Longrigg at MBA Literary Agents.
After graduating from Durham University with a degree in English Literature, she dallied with living in cities including London, Nottingham and Cambridge, but eventually came back with her own romantic hero in tow to her beloved Dales, where she first started telling stories about heroines with flaws and the men who love them.
As Mary Jayne Baker, Lisa also writes romantic comedies for Aria Fiction. Lisa is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.