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The Girl at the Last House Before the Sea–the power of secrets and gossip

The Girl at the Last House Before the Sea

by Liz Eeles

The third book in the Heaven’s Cove series is quite powerful and touching. Freya’s life seems full and satisfying. She has a husband and a job as a caregiver—until her life falls apart and she loses both. Struggling to get her feet on the ground again, she accepts an offer from her half-sister Belinda to come to Heaven’s Cove to interview for a position as the full-time carer for the eighty-three year old Kathleen, a proud and independent woman who is harboring a powerful secret. Freya has secrets from her own past as does Belinda who is known as the town fixer and gossip. Despite their biological relationship, the sisters hardly know each other.

Kathleen’s son Ryan, a widower, has a guilty secret of his own that makes him suspicious of Freya. He locks himself away from most society focusing on the task of caring for his mother and his daughter Chloe. Chloe is struggling with the death of her mom, their move to a new town, fitting in with new friends, and the hormones of a typical twelve-year old girl.

Freya is a talented listener and people open up to her and tell her their secrets. Unfortunately, along with sharing their pasts, people often insist that Freya not speak of their disclosures with anyone. That request is not usually an issue as Freya is not a gossip. In The Girl at the Last House Before the Sea, however, things spoken in confidence can conflict with well-meaning promises Freya makes to various family members. She is honoring their wishes and motivations, but the secrets can still hurt if and when they are revealed.

Freya finds that Kathleen has lied about never having been to Driftwood Cottage on the cliff; the little cottage, now a B&B, holds both an attraction and a revulsion for Kathleen. What could have happened in Heaven’s Cove to draw Kathleen to move there after the death of her husband? Freya wants to help, but the request needs to come from Kathleen herself.

I loved this book. Its plot includes a part of history that affected many families painfully but is now thankfully in the past. The plight of the various characters is moving. The sadness and agony Kathleen suffers is heart-wrenching, but there is also hope in the book as secrets are laid open and the air is cleared. The final upset in the book comes from a surprise source, and the denouement is particularly satisfying.

I would like to extend my thanks to NetGalley and to Bookouture for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Women’s Fiction, General Fiction (A), Romance

Notes: #3 in the Heaven’s Cove series, but could be read as a standalone. Although there are a few minor characters who overlap from the first two books, the plot is self-contained.

Publication: February 28, 2022—Bookouture

Memorable Lines:

But today, a sea view was just what she needed, because the endless movement of the water was calming. Life might disintegrate into an unholy mess but the waves would roll on.

Freya spent some time inspecting the photos, which were of the village from decades ago and people long gone. The pictures were fascinating and made her realize that her current problems were merely a blip along the way of life.

Secrets held power—the power to surprise or delight, to hurt or harm—because they were so often bound up with primal emotions.

Christmas Wishes–love crosses the Channel

Christmas Wishes

by Sue Moorcroft

Good personal character is something that is often taken for granted, but in moments of crisis it can rise to the forefront to shine. That is what happens to Nico Pettersson when he takes his eight-year old daughter Josie to her mother Lauren’s home for a planned visit only to discover an alcohol and drug mess. Lauren is in no condition for a visit or to take care of her two-year old Maria. This precious little one is not Nico’s child. In fact, her conception had resulted in divorce. As a single parent, Nico has his own set of problems, but can he leave his daughter’s sister in a filthy, hungry, and thirsty state?

Throughout Sue Moorcroft’s Christmas Wishes, Nico has many decisive moments of conscience. Meanwhile, he reconnects with Hannah, a childhood friend who is his former hockey teammate’s little sister. She is confronted with a break in her relationship with Albin, a cold, wealthy, supercilious boyfriend who controls her shop and her residence in Sweden. The setting bounces back and forth between Stockholm, Sweden, and Middledip, England, with Hannah and Nico having ties in both countries.

The setting is beautiful and Moorcroft has a talent for descriptions. Christmas is not just a backdrop, but an integral part of the story. The plot and relationships are complex. The ups and downs of romance weave through the story and provide a few surprises. A well-behaved Josie and cute-as-a-button Maria are a wonderful pair of children, and my heart went out to them in their respective situations. Hannah’s grandmother, Nan Heather, is a wise and delightful ninety year old who rounds out the cast beautifully. Christmas Wishes is a Christmas gift to readers who want a good storyline coupled with romance in a Christmas setting.

I would like to extend my thanks to NetGalley and to HarperCollins (Avon Books) for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

Category: General Fiction (Adult), Romance, Women’s Fiction

Notes: 1. This book is part of the Middledip Series which seems to be loosely connected by a Middledip, England, setting and by an emphasis on seasons. My impression is that the books in this series do not need to be read in any particular order and that they make excellent standalones.
2. There is one place in the book where the description of a sexual encounter borders on too much detail for my taste, but it is not enough to make me wish I hadn’t read the book. Skim and move on!

Publication: October 29, 2020—HarperCollins (Avon)

Memorable Lines:

The butterflies that journeyed home with her fluttered wings of ice…

Anders rocked a mixed retro look with a Seventies mustache but a Sixties short-back-and-sides. His wide-lapelled suits teamed with busy floral ties were a fashion mystery.

Autumn seemed to have decided not to bother this year and winter had swept in as if from Narnia. Iron-hard frosts stripped the color from the landscape, bleak but beautiful…

Room for Doubt–does the motive justify the crime?

Room for Doubt

by Nancy Cole Silverman

Room for DoubtWhen is a murdered person not a victim? Who is Mustang Sally? Why would a policeman turn a blind eye to a crime?

There are lots of questions to be answered in the fast-paced cozy mystery, Room for Doubt,  by Nancy Cole Silverman. Carol Childs is a single mom trying to make a living as a reporter for talk radio when she finds herself hosting a late night talk show. Throw into this mix a handsome PI, an aging “Psychic to the Stars,” and some bizarre murders and you have a recipe for a mystery you won’t want to put down.

There is not a lot of deep character development, but you won’t miss it because the plot has the focus. The reporter Carol and PI Chase, who would like to get to know Carol better, are both likable. Supporting characters add interest as they move in and out of the action. The setting provides a realistic touch as it is the L.A. area where the author currently lives.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Henery Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery, General Fiction (Adult)

Notes: #4 in the Carol Childs Mystery Series, but works well as a standalone

Publication:   July 18, 2017—Henery Press

Memorable Lines:

Whoever said fashion made the woman certainly knew the right outfit could cover a world of insecurities, and right now I felt like I needed all the help I could get.

“I thought the arguments and his escalating violence was my fault and that I could fix him. So I didn’t leave. I thought I could make it better. Abusive men can do that to you.”

“Things have changed some today but not enough. Abuse is a social stigma. A lot of women are too embarrassed to tell their friends and family the truth about what’s happening. Most end up living in fear.”

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