Monday 27 June 2022

Guest Review: Chasing Dreams at Hedgehog Hollow by Jessica Redland

Samantha has a secret. Returning home from her dream honeymoon to the normality of running her beloved Hedgehog Hollow rescue centre, she's ready for the next chapter of her life with Josh. Or is she? Samantha is hiding something which could forever change the dreams they shared and bring their happy ever after crashing to the ground.

Lauren has given up on love. Twenty-six years ago the love of her life, Shaun, left her a note and was never seen again. Two painful divorces later she still can't face opening up to anyone. But little does Lauren know that the closure she's dreamt of for all these years may be closer than she thinks, and perhaps the only way to let new love in is to forgive and forget.

Samantha and Lauren will need the love and support from the Hedgehog Hollow family more than ever. After all, some dreams are worth chasing...

This is the fifth, and penultimate, book in this series, which follows the fortunes of Samantha and her hedgehog rescue centre, based at Hedgehog Hollow farm in the Yorkshire Wolds. I have been following the series from the start and eagerly looking forward to each new part. For those new to these stories, or as an aide memoir, this book begins with a list of recurring characters from previous parts, with details of where they fit into the series, and an explanation of the overall story so far. At the end of the book, there is information about hedgehogs and their care.

This book carries on from the last one, which culminated in the wedding of the two principal characters, Samantha and Josh. This story is told from the point of view of Samantha and Josh’s aunt, Lauren, different chapters being told from the perspective of one or other of them. Following the tragic breakdown of two marriages, Lauren shares her house with Samantha’s dad, who is now separated from his wife. As she begins to wonder if she might have feelings more than friendship for him, it looks as if he may be reuniting with Samantha’s mum. However, a chance for love appears from an unexpected direction, but is Lauren ready to trust another man? Samantha also has a decision to make. Is she ready to take the next step in her relationship with Josh; is there room in her life for the busy rescue centre and a family?

I have loved all the books in the Hedgehog Hollow series, and this one is no exception; I can highly recommend it to readers new to Jessica Redland as well as those familiar with these tales. The descriptions of the hedgehogs at Samantha’s rescue centre are amazing and make me realise how lucky I am to have these nightly spiky visitors to my garden. This story incorporated most of the characters from previous books in the series and I very much enjoyed catching up with them all. Samantha was, of course, one of the principal characters, but it was good to find Lauren coming to the fore. There were some painful and tear-jerking moments for her and some big surprises for the reader which had me, for one, gasping. I am looking forward to the next book in the series, but sad that it will be the last; knowing Jessica’s writing, I am sure that more than one character may appear in future books.

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