Wednesday 3 January 2024

Guest Review: A Breath of Fresh Air by Jessica Redland

Rosie feels like there's something missing in her life.

She loves her job as the manager of Willowdale Hall Riding Stables, caring for the horses and teaching children to ride, and she loves the home she shares with her mother in the beautiful Lake District. But she can't help wondering how her life might look if things had been different. What if her father had been around to help care for her mother? And what if she'd found someone special herself?

When Hubert Cranleigh - the owner of Willowdale Hall - is taken ill, his son Oliver steps into the breach. Brooding and distant, Rosie is furious when he claims not to know who she is. Especially when they have a history.

Rosie's life is about to be turned upside down, but with the New Year comes new opportunities. What Rosie feels is missing from her life might be closer than she thinks, and with more significant consequences than she could ever have imagined...

Review: This is the second book in the Escape to the Lakes series from Jessica Redland. The storyline is set once again in the fictional village of Willowdale on the shores of Derwent Water, one of the larger bodies of water in the picturesque Lake District. It was good to revisit the village where the first book in the series was set and to meet up with some familiar characters. Although this story can be read as a standalone, I would recommend reading the first book in the series before this one to give complete enjoyment. The book has a beautiful cover recognisable as a typical Lake District scene.

The story this time brings to the fore Rosie, a character who featured in the last book  She lives and works on the Willowdale Hall estate, where she looks after the horses and runs the riding school. She has lived all her life with her mother in a cottage on the estate, but has never known the identity of her father. When Hubert Cranleigh, who lives in the hall, has a riding accident near to Christmas, his son, Oliver, returns home. Rosie and Oliver grew up together and had a relationship in the past, but he now pretends not to know her and keeps his distance. When his father dies and the future of the hall and its riding school is in doubt, many surprises come to light for both Rosie and Oliver. 

I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it, especially to lovers of the Lake District. I must mention, though, that the book ends on a cliffhanger, which I was not expecting; I will be keenly waiting for the next book in the series to solve the mystery and hope it won’t be too long a wait. I loved the characters in this story, with the exception of Hubert Cranleigh, a very unlikeable character. Oliver was a bit of a contradiction - quite unlikeable to start with but the opposite by the end. I was quite prepared to dislike him but then he began to show another side to his character. Rosie and her mum were just as lovely as in the last book; I loved their relationship, and the way in which Rosie looked after her mum in particular. I liked the way in which Rosie and Oliver’s history was revealed in a series of flashbacks dotted throughout the book; I think that worked well to explain their current relationship. I am very much looking forward to the next story in this series, not only because of the cliffhanger but also because I am enjoying following the events in this village and the lives of the characters who live there. 

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