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Ratings and Book Reviews (2 8 star ratings
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    Nelson's Bar

    This was an okay read but somehow I never really felt immersed in the setting or found myself really caring about the cast of characters. There was a bit too much relying on misunderstandings and happenstance in the plot for me and strangely, one too many plotlines straggling through made it overpopulated and somehow "bitty". I'm all for complexity and depth but prefer this to come from my characters rather than the scenarios and with so much going on for, and around Clancy it all became a bit much. Variously this book deals with the aftermath of a jilting at the altar, an affair that is revealed in a dramatic way, loss of a business, difficulties of rural living, same gender relationships, parental pressure, the dangers of gossip, new love, intrusive family and probably a lot more. Certainly every chapter brings some new dilemma and seeks to address an ongoing one. To be honest it all got a bit overdramatic and wearing by about halfway through. For me this needed stripping back and the number of issues facing Clancy and, to a lesser extent, Aaron needed to be pared back to allow a fuller exploration of the themes. The writing, as always, is really good. Unfortunately, the story lets it down. The plot is so all encompassing that the only pace is urgent and breathless as you jump here, there and everywhere without really settling and exploring any one facet. The characters of Clancy and Aaron are quite well drawn but everyone else is almost a caricature (Alice - entitled and selfish, Hugo - scuzzy, Will - attractive and untrustworthy, Lee - frail and damaged) and it does distract the reader and detract from the overall story. It would make a good holiday read where you tend to pick up and put down a book several times a day for brief periods. The constant shuttling about and ever changing problems are less obvious that way. The only thing that saved this for me was the warmth of the writing.
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    Rural romance and family drama, another winner

    Six years ago Clancy's cousin Alice stood up her fiance Lee on their wedding day. The repercussions of that selfish act have affected all of them to some extent, including Lee's best man and older brother Aaron. Now, Clancy has been forced out of her home and the company she helped to build by her ex-fiance Will. Somehow he humiliated her, cheating on her in a very public way, and yet she is the one forced out. With nowhere to go, she decides to take up the vacant position of caretaker to a row of cottages part-owned by her cousin Alice and Lee's brother Aaron. Over the years whilst Alice has been globe-trotting Clancy and Aaron have corresponded about maintenance of the cottages etc and so this seems like an ideal place to regroup and lick her wounds. The tiny village of Nelson's Bar doesn't have any mobile phone coverage so it will be a complete rest from the outside world and allow Clancy to forget her heartbreak. Aaron can't believe it when Awful Alice's cousin waltzes back into the village demanding to be the new caretaker, trouble is Alice still owns half the cottages so he doesn't have much choice. But he worries how the reminder of Alice will affect Lee, who has been very fragile since he was jilted. Can I just say I love Sue Moorcroft's books. Always set in near-idyllic country settings, she manages to create characters with real emotions and character flaws, no-one is perfect, everyone makes mistakes, just because it's the country doesn't mean there isn't bigotry or spite or angst. Even Clancy comes to realise that things aren't quite the way she originally saw them. If you enjoy romance set in the English countryside with a side order of teen angst, family feuds, jealous exes and small businesses struggling to get by you will love this novel. Another winner from one of my favourite authors. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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