As I’m sure you all know by now if you follow this blog regularly, I do love an Irish read! And this is no different. It’s the third in Susanne O’Leary’s Willow House series, and for some reason I’ve only read the second book prior to this – Sisters of Willow House. The first book is Secrets of Willow House, and I would probably take the time to go back and read that when I have a chance, even though this could be read as a stand-alone as it does give you enough background along the way so that you know what’s going on.
I was really sad to see that the lovely Aunt Philomena dies in this book! She was such an integral part of Willow House, Sandy Cove, which is where it’s situated, and of the lives of sisters Roisin and Maeve. However, her passing is what brings American Cordelia Mirafiore to Ireland and to Aunt Phil’s funeral. Cordelia didn’t have the warm family upbringing that the 2 sisters had, but while Aunt Phil had been in America she put out feelers about her roots and family background, and a lot of this resonated with Cordelia who made contact with her and they had formed a close connection.
Roisin and Maeve are initially not so receptive of this stranger who’s arrived in their family’s midst but they soon warm to her and the 3 form a close bond. Other family members remain sceptical as the links between Cordelia and Philomena have not been confirmed and seem dubious. It’s all a bit of a mystery. But Cordelia is determined to prove herself and doesn’t want to lose the closest thing to a family that she’s ever had, even though she may have got there under questionable circumstances.
This book is slightly different to the previous one as there’s some mystery thrown into the mix, but there is still the familiar combination of romance, friendship, family and warmth that you would expect. Ms O’Leary approaches the sensitive issue of ‘who is your family?’ really well. And it makes you think of that conversation … well, who really is your family? Is it purely those who happen to be related to you by blood; the ones you’re stuck with, whether you like it or not? Or do you get to choose who you want in your family circle; the ones who remain by your side and who give you the love and support that you need, instinctively knowing what to provide?
The author also gives us a gentle reminder that although we think we know people well, especially those closest to us, they will usually always end up surprising us by behaving in ways that we never expected. Whether they frighten and disturb us, by doing the worst things possible, or astonish us by turning out to be the best human we’ve ever known, you can guarantee that you won’t get what you’re expecting, especially in extreme circumstances.
This is such an enjoyable read, and gets 4 stars from me. I hope we’ll be able to return to Sandy Cove in the near future.
Susanne O’Leary is the bestselling author of fifteen novels, mainly in the romantic fiction genre. She has also written three crime novels and two in the historical fiction genre. She has been the wife of a diplomat (still is), a fitness teacher and a translator. She now writes full-time from either of two locations, a ramshackle house in County Tipperary, Ireland or a little cottage overlooking the Atlantic in Dingle, County Kerry. When she is not scaling the mountains of said counties (including MacGillycuddy’s Reeks, featured in Full Irish), or keeping fit in the local gym, she keeps writing, producing a book every six months.
Apple Books: https://apple.co/30DkJ0M
Thank you to the lovely people at Bookouture for inviting me to tour with them. It’s always a pleasure! Take a look at what other bloggers had to say about Dreams of Willow House …