Review of ‘An English Garden Murder’ by Katie Gayle

‘An English Garden Murder’ by Katie Gayle is the story of Julia, a recent divorcee whose husband has left her for the gardener. Now living in the Cotswolds, Julia is trying to move on and start a new life. A quiet life. But when a body is found buried in her garden a quiet life is the last thing she is going to get. The local police force is spread extremely thin, so Julia finds herself investigating the murder – and becomes embroiled in more than she bargained for. As she gets to know her neighbours, and becomes mum to a wayward puppy, the ex-social worker finds her skills from a previous life in London very useful. Will she be able to catch the killer before anyone else gets hurt? 

Katie Gayle has a delightful touch, marrying the quaintness of village life with humour and kindness. Julia is a likeable character, with determination and grit. She wants to become a part of the community – just not in quite the way it turns out. She has seen everything in her life in London social work, so is not phased when death turns up on her doorstep. This charming and well-written cosy mystery has an ideal setting, believable characters and the potential for many more stories. I really enjoyed it and was delighted to find that there’s more Katie Gayle books in the offing. 

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘A Lesson in Love’ by Harper Bliss

‘A Lesson in Love’ by Harper Bliss is the third book in the Village Romance Series. And it’s excellent. The story is told in first person, alternating between Oxford Literature Professor, Helen and DPhil Student, Rory –  who also happens to be part of the aristocratic Carlisle family of Upper Chewford. This is an age-gap romance – one of my favourite tropes, and one that Harper Bliss does so well. When Helen agrees to be Rory’s academic supervisor for her Doctorate, she cannot imagine the effect that one decision will have on her life. She has been living a secret double life writing cozy mysteries set in Chewford and the stress of keeping that from friends and colleagues is eating her up. She knows she needs to make changes in her life, but becoming involved with a student over twenty years younger seems too big a step to take. Rory finds herself drawn to the professor and can’t seem to keep away. 

The dynamic between the pair is entrancing. I always wondered about Helen, as small teasers appeared in the previous two books in the series. I wanted to know who this woman was. And I was not surprised that Rory found her irresistible too. The intense emotional connection was evident from the start. Rory just had to make Helen see that. I could understand Helen being torn. She was older, in a position of responsibility and she’d been hurt in relationships before. But there was no denying her feelings for Rory. The love scenes were utterly exquisite. Poetic infact. But if you’ve read a Harper Bliss book before you’ll know she is the master in this area. I enjoyed being back in the village again and being back with characters I’ve grown to love. The whole series is wonderfully done. I can see me going back and reading all three one after the other, now that I know them all so well. This story was about realising that sometimes we are ready for a change – and it can be the best decision we’ve ever made. I adored it. 

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘A Taste of Love’ by Clare Lydon

 ‘A Taste of Love’ by Clare Lydon is a sweet, heartwarming story set in a picture-perfect Cotswold village. It is the second in a series written by Ms Lydon, T.B. Markinson and Harper Bliss. Once you have visited this particular village, you’ll never want to leave. 

Natalie Hill works for the family gin business and has been spectacularly unlucky in love thus far. When a gorgeous Londoner opens an ice cream shop across the street, she can’t help but be affected. Can she ever forget her past failures though? Can she trust an in-comer who might leaves as quickly as she arrived?

Ellie Knap has had enough of the rat-race. A bad relationship has made her realise she has to get out and start anew somewhere else. Will Upper Chewford be a place to call home? Will her beautiful neighbour become more than a friend? 

The story is romantic, sexy and of course very funny. It wouldn’t be a Clare Lydon without embarrassing situations and laugh out loud moments. The characters are relatable and feel like family and old friends by the end of the book. And, as with every novel I’ve ever read by Ms Lydon, I was left with a smile on my face. It was a delight. 

I was given this ARC to review.