I’m delighted today to be helping launch the blog tour for the latest book from Jaimie Admans, The Beekeeper at Elderflower Grove, and sharing my publication day review. Published today by HQ Digital, it’s now available for kindle via Amazon in the UK and US, in all major ebook formats, and as an audiobook – the paperback will follow on 15th September. 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’ve never read one of Jaimie’s books before – I do have a few on my kindle, because I’ve always been quite sure they were books I’d really enjoy. I nearly got there at Christmas – I’d seen the most wonderful reviews of The Post Box at the North Pole, but I’d rather over-committed myself with festive reading (as usual!) and was so sorry I just couldn’t fit it in (one for this Christmas, maybe?). So I was really thrilled when Rachel got in touch about this blog tour – at last, I could manage to read one, and it looked so lovely. And it really was – let’s take a closer look…
Her new start is about to bee-gin!
Having moved into her mum’s spare room after a disastrous break-up, Kayleigh Harwood is desperate for a fresh start. When she sees an opening for a new beekeeper at the old manor house at Elderflower Grove she jumps at the chance – despite not knowing a thing about bees…
The abandoned house holds a mystery of its own – the previous owner vanished years ago – and locals have been inventing stories about the manor ever since. Unable to resist the urge to look around, Kayleigh is shocked to find drop-dead-gorgeous gardener Carey living inside!
Carey explains that the house and surrounding land is at risk of being demolished, endangering the bees, and he has been staying there to protect it.
Convinced the secret of the house holds the key to saving Elderflower Grove’s bees, Kayleigh is prepared to do everything she can to help. But is she ready to find her own happy-ever-after too…?
Every so often – and it’s so lovely when it happens – you come across a book that just gets everything right. Ok, it might have helped that the weather was glorious and I could indulge myself by spending the day reading this one from cover to cover in the garden – but the whole book was so infused with warmth and sunshine that it would have brightened the dullest day.
I loved Kayleigh from the very beginning – she’s feisty and funny, but life really hasn’t been doing her any favours – and she’s so desperate to turn things around that she’ll take any job going. That’s what makes her lie through her teeth while being interviewed by a bee (not a real one obviously – it’s a Zoom filter, and a computerised voice) for a job she’s entirely unable to do. And that’s how she finds herself appointed as beekeeper, looking after the sixty hives on the roof of the dilapidated, burnt out and perhaps haunted manor house of Elderflower Grove – with three days to deliver five hundred jars of honey, eagerly awaited by the community of Little Kettling.
The beekeeping bible she ordered online isn’t going to get her through this one – but there’s unexpected help at hand. When she explores the house – despite the dire warnings never to go inside – she comes across Carey, a distinctly gorgeous gardener, sleeping on the floor inside and acting as a very unofficial caretaker. Together, despite his aversion to being anywhere near the bees on the roof, they set about the task of producing the jars – and then go on to breath new life into the glorious grounds of the manor that have been a forbidding place behind locked gates for far too long.
This is a book that has a bit of everything. Of course, it’s a romance – you can really feel the chemistry between Kayleigh and Carey, starting as friends with a mission in common but slowly developing into so much more. But their path certainly isn’t a smooth one – there’s an intriguing mystery about what happened to the elderly and reclusive spinster who owned the manor, there are various shenanigans around the council’s attempts to acquire the building and its grounds and turn it into a theme park, but Carey has a few secrets he hasn’t shared too that make a happy ending look quite impossible.
There’s a lot of the loveliest humour – Kayleigh’s own distinctive voice, the exchanges between Carey and Kayleigh that crackle and fizz and sparkle, and the interventions of the Nectar Inspectors (some of the more eccentric residents of Little Kettling) are just wonderful. And there’s a fair bit of drama too – really edge-of-the-seat moments that have your heart in your mouth – but also some really emotional moments (and not all bee related) that have you on the edge of tears, but always followed by a smile. And those frequent nods to Jane Austen – so cleverly done, and yet another reason to smile. And goodness, I haven’t even really mentioned the bees – I really liked the bee facts that started each chapter, and certainly learned a lot (as did Kayleigh) about the work involved in their care.
The story is simply wonderful – I haven’t even started to get into its many twists and turns, and all its many surprises – and quite beautifully written. I fell in love with Elderflower Grove and its grounds too, and would have been ready to chain myself to the gates to protect it – the author’s descriptions are superb, the house a character in its own right. There are developments towards the book’s end that you really won’t be expecting – the pages just turn faster and faster, and I loved every single moment. This was a book I put down – rather reluctantly – when it was all over, smiled, wiped away a tear, and thought “that was just perfect”. Highly recommended – and definitely one of my books of the year.
About the author
Jaimie is a 36-year-old English-sounding Welsh girl with an awkward-to-spell name. She lives in South Wales and enjoys writing, gardening, watching horror movies, and drinking tea, although she’s seriously considering marrying her coffee machine. She loves autumn and winter, and singing songs from musicals despite the fact she’s got the voice of a dying hyena. She hates spiders, hot weather, and cheese & onion crisps. She spends far too much time on Twitter and owns too many pairs of boots. She will never have time to read all the books she wants to read.
She is the author of several romantic comedies for HarperCollins – The Chateau of Happily Ever Afters, The Little Wedding Island, It’s a Wonderful Night, The Little Vintage Carousel by the Sea, Snowflakes at the Little Christmas Tree Farm, The Little Bookshop of Love Stories, The Wishing Tree Beside the Shore, The Little Christmas Shop on Nutcracker Lane, The Post Box at the North Pole, and The Beekeeper at Elderflower Grove.
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