Heartcross Castle by Christie Barlow

Today I am delighted to share my thoughts on Heartcross Castle, the latest book in the Love Heart Lane series from Christie Barlow. Now Christie Barlow is one of the few authors I happily cheat on crime fiction for, and this series is absolutely fabulous. Book five, The Lake House, was my first #bookvent choice for 2021, so I was absolutely delighted to be invited to join the blog tour by Rachel from Rachel’s Random Resources, My thanks to publisher One More Chapter for the advance copy for review. Here’s what the book is all about:

Source: Netgalley
Release Date: 31 December 2021
Publisher: One More Chapter

About the Book

Love Heart Lane – where friends are there for you no matter what

A second chance…

When her grandfather Marley passes away Grace Power discovers she’s been left the beautiful but crumbling estate of Heartcross Castle. As a single mum of three, Grace has no idea what she’s going to do with it – but who can say no to a roof over their kids’ heads and a chance to get away from past hurts?

And a forever home

Heartcross Castle is full of secrets – especially a lost security deposit box that holds the truth to everything… But when celebrity chef Andrew Glossop sets his eyes on the castle and, to make matters worse, mistakes Grace as the new housekeeper, Grace tells him there is absolutely NO CHANCE he is getting his hands on her home.

Devastated to have got it so wrong, Andrew will do anything to make it up to her – but is she willing to listen?

My Thoughts

If you love a heartwarming story, full of great characters, laughter, friendship and a true sense of community and you haven’t read any of the books in the Love Heart Lane series yet … well, what are you waiting for? This may be book seven in the series, but Heartcross Castle works well as a stand alone story, as do any of the books to be fair, so if this is your first visit to town, do not worry. Whilst the some of the characters will feature in each of the stories to differing degrees, each book has its own central protagonist, in this case single mum, Grace, who moves back to Heartcross after the death of her Grandfather, Marley.

It’s a bittersweet moment for Grace, who needs a new start more than anyone, but it comes at a price, and that price is the fact she will never have the chance to make amends with Marley, or introduce her children to their Great-Grandfather. From the very early moments in the book you get a real sense of who Grace is and how she has changed from the girl she once was. I love how Christie Barlow is quickly able to establish her characters in such a way that you find yourself immediately drawn to them. Whatever mistakes Grace may have made in her teenage years, whatever cause her to turn her back on Heartcross, the woman we meet now is entirely different. There is nothing she wouldn’t do to keep her three sons safe, even if that means moving the entire length of the country. I was rooting for her from the off. Curious to see why she left home, obviously, but more than anything, wanting to see how Heartcross would respond to the return of their long lost friend. If anywhere is capable of giving someone a new start, it is the wonderful community on Love Heart Lane.

Now this story doesn’t belong entirely to Grace. There is a small … distraction, in the shape of celebrity chef, Andrew Glossop. He is Grace’s tennant, and from the moment they meet the sparks start to fly, partly driven by a case of mistaken identity. There are some really funny, as well as tender moments in the book between the two, the humour often amplified by the antics of Grace’s three sons who really make an impression on Andrew. Now he is a very well observed character. From a wealthy family, he is completely unaware of what is happening around him, or how it feels for Grace moving back to a Heartcross, to a castle well past its best, with nothing but a few pounds to her name. Seeing Grace and the children grounding him in their kind of reality, watching the subtle changes in his personality, is truly wonderful to read. He is a kind and well meaning soul, that is clear, with an overbearing mother who adds a layer of conflict in his life, but there is clear chemistry between him and Grace that kept me smile and completely invested in their story.

Now one of the real draws of this series is the sense of community that you feel throughout. Small towns often get bad press, that claustrophobic sense of everyone knowing everyone else and the concept of privacy being alien to most residents. In Heartcross, that awareness, the understanding, is what really drives the stories. Grace needs all the help she can get, but has no reason to expect anyone to step up for her after all this time. And yet … well, you need to read the book, but certainly seeing the whole town rally around provides some of the most tender and emotional moments of the book, and is one of the key reasons I keep returning to the series.

Not only has Christie Barlow created such a vivid and authentic setting that comes alive in every scene, she has developed a thriving town, full of characters I love to come back to and whose hearts are as open as their smiles. If you can read this book without at least one awww moment, not least of all because of Grace’s youngest son, Billy, or laughter at the antics of twins Joey and Freddie, then you are probably reading the wrong kind of book. I love this series, love the heartwarming, tender and loving moments that we are treated to with every story. Love seeing the characters overcome the various obstacles and fighting their way to happiness, knowing that an entire town has their backs, and knowing that I am guaranteed a few hours of beautiful escapism with every read. Another winner and definitely recommended.

About the Author

Christie Barlow is the number one international bestselling author of fifteen romantic comedies including the iconic Love Heart Lane Series, A Home at Honeysuckle Farm and Kitty’s Countryside Dream. She lives in a ramshackle cottage in a quaint village in the heart of Staffordshire with her four children and two dogs.

Her writing career has come as a lovely surprise when Christie decided to write a book to teach her children a valuable life lesson and show them that they are capable of achieving their dreams. Christie’s dream was to become a writer and the book she wrote to prove a point went on to become a #1 international bestseller in the UK, USA, Canada and Australia.

When Christie isn’t writing she co-presents The Book Show on Radio Northwich, enjoys playing the piano, is a keen gardener and loves to paint and upcycle furniture.

Christie is an ambassador for the @ZuriProject alongside Patron of the charity, Emmerdale’s Bhasker Patel. They raise money and awareness for communities in Uganda.

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