Thursday 29 August 2019

Guest Review: Love Heart Lane by Christie Barlow

Welcome to Love Heart Lane…
When Flick Simons returns to the cosy village of Heartcross she only expected to stay for a few days. The white-washed cottages of Love Heart Lane might be her home, but the place holds too many painful memories, and of one man in particular – Fergus Campbell.
When a winter storm sweeps in, the only bridge connecting the village to the main land is swept away. As the villagers pull together, Flick finds herself welcomed back by the friends she once left behind. And as the snow begins to melt, maybe there is a chance that Fergus’s heart will thaw too…

Review: This is the first story in a series set in the fictional Scottish highland village of Heartcross. It sounds a really picturesque place, nestled on the banks of the River Heart and accessible only by the grade II listed bridge. Love Heart Lane is one of the streets in the village, lined with quaint cottages. Although I haven’t read anything from Christie Barlow before, the setting of this book alone was enough to make me want to pick it up and start to read. Once I did, I quickly found myself across that bridge and immersed in the charms of the village and its inhabitants.

The story begins, not in Scotland, but in London, where we find Felicity Simons, planning to return to her native Heartcross after an absence of 8 years for a well-deserved and long overdue holiday. Having apparently left the village under a bit of a cloud, she is not entirely sure what kind of reception she will receive from her estranged friends, and especially her former boyfriend, Fergus Campbell. You might imagine that her arrival, in the midst of a blizzard, could hardly be more dramatic, but worse was to follow in the shape of a terrific storm which sweeps away the old bridge, leaving the village and its inhabitants cut off completely. Felicity suddenly finds herself at the centre of the campaign to have the link with the other side of the river restored and to keep the villagers from starving in the meantime. As the community comes together in the face of their problems, Felicity begins to imagine what life would be like back here with her family and friends, and whether her relationship with Fergus can be rekindled.

I have really enjoyed reading this story; it was one of those books that I found difficult to put down. The chapters are not over-long, so it was easy to say “just one more chapter” instead of whatever else I was supposed to be doing. Although I would undoubtedly describe it as a romance, there is plenty of drama and excitement in the outwardly sleepy village of Heartcross. Christie Barlow’s descriptions of first of all the snow blizzard and then the storm in which the bridge collapsed really brought the situation and the peril to life. I found myself holding my breath hoping that everyone was going to be OK. She has also created some wonderful characters and successfully conveyed the sense of community that can still be found in places like this. I can highly recommend this book to anyone and I’m very much looking forward to the next one in the series.

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