A Summer Surprise at the Little Blue Boathouse by Christie Barlow

I love the Love Heart Lane series of books by Christie Barlow, and it’s always a thrill to get an approval for an early peek at the latest arrival. My thanks to publishers One More Chapter for letting me do so again this time with A Summer Surprise at the Little Blue Boathouse and happy publication day to Christie Barlow as today is the books birthday! Here’s what it’s all about:

Source: Netgalley
Release Date: 30 April 2023
Publisher: One More Chapter

About the Book

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

When Bea Fernsby discovers her fiancé’s eyes have been wandering, she calls off the wedding and hits the road. The village of Heartcross in the Scottish Highlands is about as far away from home as she can get, and when she stumbles into the ideal summer job at The Little Blue Boathouse and meets gorgeous vacationer Nolan Hemingway, things finally start looking up.

Now, as an old mystery surfaces and Bea and Nolan band together to find out what happened to his late grandfather’s one true love, fate throws Bea some unexpected curveballs…and promising opportunities.

Bea’s stay is only supposed to last a couple of weeks, but as the old saying goes: ‘Once you arrive in Heartcross, you never want to leave…’

My Thoughts

Aww. It’s not often I read women’s fiction, or any kind of romance type read, but I will always make an exception for Christie Barlow, especially her Love Heart Lane series. These books are just so lovely and heartwarming, and if you haven’t taken a trip to Heartcross yet, you really need to fix that pretty soon. As the saying goes, once you arrive in Heartcross, you never want to leave. Well, as soon as you start reading this series, you’ll be as desperate for the next instalment as all of us already in the know.

In this latest offering we met Bea Fernsby, a woman who has taken herself on an up country trip from Staffordshire to Heartcross in order to get over a broken heart caused by her former fiancé’s latest infidelity. I say latest, because he has cheated on her before but this time, for Bea at least, there is no going back. What is meant to be a two week reboot, quickly turns into a two week working holiday as, hearing about a vacancy that has arisen rent out kayaks at the Little Blue Boathouse, Bea thinks this will be just the distraction she needs to get over her broken love life. How right she is as she meets Nolan, a young man who has sailed his grandfather’s old boat north in search of clues to the identity of a woman who may well have been the old man’s one true love.

I do love this series, and have to admire the way in which Christie Barlow manages to engage readers in the lives of new protagonists with every new instalment. Yes, we have the constant of the resident of Heartcross, those long loved characters who welcome our newbies, and us as readers, with open arms. But if the author didn’t manage to make us care about the people at the heart of the story, it just wouldn’t work as well. And I found I really did like Bea very quickly. there is something very wholesome and unassuming about her, so much so that it was probably easy to see why her former partner felt able to walk all over her emotions. But whilst she may be a romantic at heart, it’s clear she is no pushover and there is far more to her than meets the eye. She’s determined, resolute and stronger than she thinks, even if she does fall very quickly for Nolan.

To be fair to Bea, that’s completely understandable. Christie Barlow is adept at writing everyone’s (near) perfect man, and although Nolan was clearly nursing a few secrets and perhaps broken heart of his own, I was very quickly drawn to his charm and his flirtatious manner that quickly wins Bea’s heart. There was something appealing about him, perhaps that touch of sadness and melancholy that you could sense at times, but the chemistry that the author created between the pair was heartwarming and a beautiful thing to see blossom. And I’m the original cynic when it comes to romance, so I don’t say things like that lightly.

There is a mystery that accompanies this tale of budding romance, and whilst I had an inkling where the story was leading, Ms Barlow still kept a few surprises up her sleeve. As for Bea, it turns out she has a few hidden talents too, and after some hairy moments engaging in a riverside rescue, she has her sights set on more than just a summer romance with Nolan, and perhaps a longer term future in Heartcross too.

Another absolute cracker of a story that readers are just going to love. Definitely recommended.

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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