Returning to Castle Clare for the third in Victoria Connelly’s Book Lovers series is like getting together with your closest friends again, and enjoying a long, languid afternoon in a beautiful setting, complete with the finest cream tea!
After having met the Nightingale family who are based in the Suffolk countryside, in the first two books, we return once again to the same village and this time the focus is on Bryony Nightingale who runs the children’s bookshop. At the age of 22, and known as being slightly bohemian, Bryony has already had her heart broken by childhood sweetheart Ben, who upped and left Castle Clare 6 years previously. She was devastated, believing that he obviously never truly cared for her if he could so callously have left her and the place that is so dear to her heart that she’d never dream of leaving it.
She’s attempted to meet men on various dating sites, but truly, it’s virtually (excuse the pun) impossible to meet book-loving men who live in the countryside via a website. And for Bryony, having grown up as a Nightingale, it is imperative that the man who wins her heart absolutely must love books! In the meantime, she has casually dated Colin from the bakery next door to her shop, but she knows this can’t continue with this for much longer as he is far more serious about her than she’s every going to be about him – and the baked treats he keeps plying her with aren’t doing her waistline much good either!
And then, unexpectedly, Ben returns to Castle Clare. Bryony is in a complete state; adamant that she doesn’t want to see him or have anything to do with him. She certainly doesn’t want to start reminiscing about their time together before he left. But avoiding his is going to be difficult. It is, after all, only a small village. She manages to hide away in the most obscure place: the home of one of her neighbours, the elderly Flo, who spends her time gardening and taking care of a haphazard bunch of animals!
Much to her surprise, Bryony comes to enjoy her time in Flo’s garden. And when Flo’s great-nephew starts spending time there, she becomes even closer to the older woman, confiding in her, and enjoying their new-found friendship.
The village book club run by Bryony’s brother Sam and his girlfriend Callie also features, along with the rivalries that accompany the members, who attempt to lure the favour of their fellow readers with their baking efforts. Much hilarity ensues, and many readers who belong to their own real-life book clubs will identify with the arguments they have over what books to read, and why they should or shouldn’t be included! It’s a marvelous look at the microcosm of village personalities – but also an interesting comparison to many of our real-life group situations!
With all the warmth of the previous two Book Lovers stories, this one too is filled with that sense of family that reaches out to you and draws you into its fold. Those big, happy Sunday lunches at the Nightingale family home: Campion House, that make you want to just lie down in front of the warm fireplace, or ramble around the countryside on the afternoon walk with the dogs, are the stuff of comfortable, puffy, pillow-like dreams! They just envelop you in warm, welcoming hugs. The sense of familiarity is wonderful and I absolutely love it!
Another 5-star, thoroughly enjoyable read from Victoria Connelly. Thank you once again to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me on this blog tour.
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