Wednesday 8 March 2023

Guest Review: Where We Belong by Sarah Bennett

On paper, Hope Travers has an idyllic life.

Living in a bustling farmhouse with her mum, aunt and uncles, cousin and too many dogs to count, surrounded by the breath-taking Cotswolds countryside, she knows she is privileged and protected.

But all families have secrets, and the Travers family are no exception. Their farmhouse sits in the grounds of the Juniper Meadows estate, passed down through the generations and now being made to pay its own way with a myriad of businesses and projects. When a construction crew uncover what appear to be historical ruins, the history of the Travers family is put under ever closer scrutiny as a dig gets underway.

Hope may have found a blossoming romance with local archaeologist Cameron Ferguson who is running the dig, but when things start to go wrong around the estate and family secrets begin to be revealed, Hope wonders if she’s made a big mistake in digging up the past.

Review: This book marks the start of a new series from successful author Sarah Bennett. I have enjoyed several of her previous collections and sat down to read, looking forward to meeting some new characters and locations. As anticipated, I found myself quickly immersed in the story, set in a small Cotswolds village.

The story centres on the Travers family, owners of Stourton Hall, now a luxury hotel and spa renamed Juniper Meadows. The family, including Hope, her mother and aunt, as well as her uncles and cousin, all live in a large farmhouse on the estate, where outbuildings also house a gin distillery and workshops. Seeking some independence, Hope is keen to move out of the farmhouse, but construction of her new house elsewhere on the estate is stopped when ancient artefacts are discovered at the site. Archaeologist and lecturer Cameron Ferguson is called in to examine the finds and he subsequently sets up a dig. When strange and upsetting things begin to happen around the estate and even family relationships become strained, Hope wishes that she had never instigated the investigations into the past. The family trust that the upset caused by the various events will not ruin the thriving relationship developing between Hope and Cameron.

I can highly recommend this most enjoyable book and I am already looking forward to the next one in this series. I liked that the main storyline regarding the archaeological finds ran alongside a mystery regarding the unfortunate events taking place on the estate and who was behind it all. Apart from that person and one other, I loved all the characters in the story, and was definitely attracted to the handsome Cameron. The situation where all the family members live and work together sounds so comfortable, but I could understand Hope wishing move into her own accommodation at least. The book ends with a promise of more excitement at Juniper Meadows.

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