The Hidden Secrets of Bumblebee Cottage by Christie Barlow

Today I am delighted to wish a very happy publication day to Christie Barlow, as the latest book in her Love Heart Lane series, The Hidden Secrets of Bumblebee Cottage flies free. I’m really enjoying this series of books and have to say a big thank you to One More Chapter for indulging me with an early read via Netgalley. Here’s what the book’s about:

Source: Netgalley
Release Date: 31 December 2022
Publisher: One More Chapter

About the Book

A new start…

When Jinny Birdwhistle is pushed over the edge one time too many times and quits her job as a tabloid journalist, an impromptu – and rather unconventional – job search leads her to a new house, car, and career making honey and chutney in the small Scottish village of Heartcross. And with handsome beekeeper Gabe Warner to help her learn the ropes, she’s ready to embrace ‘country girl life’ and leave the past behind her.

…uncovers an old secret

Yet there’s more to strong and silent Gabe than meets the eye and though Jinny planned to leave her journalistic instincts in London, she can’t help doing a little digging. Now, as she uncovers a mystery that links to her own history, Jinny realises that you can’t outrun the truth and the only way to move forward is to face the past. But now that she’s at home in Heartcross, she won’t have to do it alone…

My Thoughts

May as well start with the housekeeping … read the series and do not look back. You are missing a treat if you don’t and really, who doesn’t like treats?

I loved this book. Won’t lie – to took a little while to warm to Jinny. It wasn’t an immediate affinity as it has been with some of the other characters in the series, but when i say a little while, I mean only a page or two. Maybe one chapter. The more we learn about her, about her past and her desire to step out of the shadow of her father and his dubious approach to journalism, the more I liked her. And then, as the book progresses and it is clear just how determined and yet hideously out of her depth she is taking over a jam making business, the more of a smile she brought to my face. Jinny is refreshingly honest, eventually, and a little accident prone in a way that will make anyone laugh, especially, it seems her new colleague Gabe.

It’s maybe not quiet love at first sight, but it’s a pretty close run thing and you know from the very moment they meet that there is a spark between the pair. Christie Barlow excels at pulling us into the thick of these relationships, making the meet cute moments pack a punch, and setting us up for what will be the highlight of the book. And what a pair they make too. Not because of the obvious either. Both of them are nursing secrets. Jinny disguising her identity and hiding any link to her father’s legacy. Gabe … well his is an entirely different story, one which Jinny’s journalistic instinct drives her to get to the bottom of.

Neither life, or love, seem to run smoothly for Jinny, a few little hiccups adding emotion and a touch of conflict to her story. But there is no denying that she means well, especially when she determines to put Bee’s Knees on the map by winning the Summer Fair’s best local produce competition. She puts heart and soul into her entry, despite a few heartbreaks along the way, set on repaying the trust that Molly and Cam placed in her, and honouring the memory of the businesses founders, Dixie and George Bird. It echoes the warmth at the heart of this book, and the final chapter really encapsulates the joy that is the Heartcross family.

There is a brief shadow cast over this story though, one that links back to Jinny in unexpected ways. Far from a random town in a remote part of Scotland that was meant to be an entirely new start for her, she actually finds herself caught up in a truly tragic story which has an air of authenticity about it and is very reminiscent of a not too distant event that has been back in the headlines not too long ago.

Christie Barlow has done a great job of drawing attention to the integrity of celebrity journalists and the lengths some people will go to in order to get a story, not matter what the cost. The consequences in this case are far reaching, and emotional, but not too a point that will overwhelm the story. The author is too skilled for that, giving the storyline just enough gravitas to leave a mark but bookending it with the warmth and acceptance that comes from the very heart of Heartcross.

Another beautiful, heartwarming and sometimes thought provoking story and a wonderful addition to the Love Heart Lane series. Fans are going to love Jinny and Gabe, and just get swept up in their story. Personally, I’m left wondering whether or not the author is going to publish some of these recipes she seems to like taunting us all with throughout the series. With so many great chefs and foodie types in Heartcross, a Love Heart Lane cookbook doesn’t sound like a bad idea now, does it?

About the Author

Christie Barlow is the author of thirteen bestselling romantic comedies including the Love Heart Lane series, A Home at Honeysuckle Farm and The Cosy Canal Boat Dream. She lives in a ramshackle cottage in a quaint village in the heart of Staffordshire with her four children and two dogs.

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