Monday 17 July 2023

Guest Review: The Start of Something Wonderful by Jessica Redland

Autumn Laine has lost her creative sparkle. After losing her grandad and her job as an illustrator in quick succession, she is at a crossroads in life and needs a break. Spending time with her parents in Paris, even in the artistic community of Montmartre, doesn't appear to be the answer.

So when her penpal, Rosie, invites her to stay in the Lake District, Autumn jumps at the chance to get away from the hustle and bustle of Paris. After all, where better to re-discover her creativity than the place which inspired her heroine, Beatrix Potter?

Arriving at the picturesque lakeside village of Willowdale, Autumn is swept up by the beauty and magic of the stunning landscape. Welcomed into the community with open arms, she slowly starts to feel like herself again as her creative instincts re-ignite.

But when she meets Dane, who has escaped to the Lakes for his own reasons, will Autumn's walls come down to let someone in again after so long? Or will the secrets of her past continue to hold her back?

Review: This book is the first in a new series from Jessica Redland. I have read and enjoyed all of her books, most of which have been set in Yorkshire. This new series is set instead in the Lake District, an area loved by her family and mine. I’m sure that we will get the odd glimpse of characters from previous books in these new stories; in fact, Jessica has already promised that for the next in the series. I love the cover of this book, which just says Lake District to me and had me keen to dive into its pages. 

The story centres on talented illustrator Autumn Laine, who is struggling to recover from the death of her dear grandfather and in fact loses her job with a greetings card company due to her lack of creativity. Hoping to reignite her joy of painting, she decides to visit her long-time penpal, Rosie, who lives in the small village of Willowdale, on the shores of Derwent Water. Perhaps exploring the area loved by her idol Beatrix Potter will help her recover her mojo. She has only just arrived there when she literally bumps into Dane Featherstone, also hoping that a stay in the village will help him recover from a bad situation. Autumn has no wish to enter into a relationship having had a bad experience in the past. However, she soon finds that she has fallen in love with the area, and perhaps is also ready to let someone into her heart again.

I can definitely recommend this new book from Jessica Redland. It is full of interesting characters and wonderful descriptions of a very beautiful area of the country. As someone who has visited this region often, I found it delightful to follow Autumn as she discovered places that I could recognise from my own visits. It is certainly a fitting place for somebody like Autumn, who has a similar painting style to Beatrix Potter. Parts of the book were quite emotional as Autumn struggled first with the death of somebody dear to her and then with memories stirred up by the unwelcome re-emergence of a person from her past. Readers might want to have a tissue handy. Dane was a great leading man, handsome but vulnerable, and able to turn his hand to most things from waiter to mountain rescue volunteer. I was willing the pair to get together as more than just friends. I hope to meet them again in future parts of this series. 

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