Wednesday 22 November 2023

Guest Review: Winter at the Dog and Duck by Jill Steeples

Ellie Browne has left behind her high-flying job in London to return to the charming Buckinghamshire village of Little Leyton.

Working shifts at the Dog and Duck pub and running her own doggy-daycare business, Ellie's looking for a simpler way of life in this idyllic English setting.

But Little Leyton's landscape is changing: Johnny Tay, Ellie's ex, wants to pick up where they left off; sultry property developer Max Golding has moved into the village and is ruffling feathers; and rumour has it that the pub, which holds a special place in Ellie's heart, might be sold. Suddenly, life's looking a whole lot more complicated.... Can Ellie overcome all the challenges to finally find her one true love?

Review: This is the first book in a series from Jill Steeples featuring the Dog and Duck, the thriving pub in a small English village. I am new to this author, but was attracted to what sounds like a romantic holiday read.

The story centres on Ellie Browne, who has returned to the Buckinghamshire village of Little Leyton after living and working in London for a few years. Taking a break from her successful career in accountancy, she is currently working at the local pub, the Dog and Duck, and also building up her dog-walking business. With her parents spending a few months abroad, Ellie is living alone in the family cottage. Her ex-boyfriend, Johnny, seems keen to rekindle their relationship, but she is not sure this is a good idea. Meanwhile, she has met newcomer to the village property developer Max Golding, and there is a definite attraction between the two of them. When there is a rumour of doubts over the future of the Dog and Duck, Ellie is concerned not just for her job but for the community as a whole. With life becoming more complicated and suspicions that Max might not be totally honest with her, Ellie begins to consider where her future lies.

I have very much enjoyed this book and would recommend it to those who enjoy a romance with a festive theme; it is not strictly speaking a Christmas story, but it has a festive feel, especially towards the end. I loved the central players in the story; both Ellie and Max were strong characters, not afraid to reveal their feelings. The author cleverly introduces doubts into the reader’s and Ellie’s mind regarding the motives and character of Max in particular, and I was never very sure how things were going to turn out. The village of Little Leyton sounds very pretty and it was easy to picture it with the pub very much central to activities. There are three more stories in this series for readers wanting to follow the fortunes of Ellie and indeed the pub.

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