Life is about to get very exciting for Merry and Tom – a new baby, a wonderful new home, and a fresh business venture to get off the ground. Five Penny House is just the place to make their dreams come true, and so what if the locals think the place is cursed? Merry’s not about to let a little thing like that bother her…
For Freya and Sam too, spring heralds the beginning of their new life together at her beloved Appleyard orchard. There are plans to make and a lot of hard work needed if they’re ever to reverse its failing fortunes, but as long as they have each other, what could possibly go wrong?
Then the rain starts to fall – and keeps on falling – and the new beginning both couples dream of begins to slip from their grasp. For Merry and Tom it now looks like the start of their worst nightmare. But sometimes help can arrive from the most unexpected places…
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Emma Davies is an author whom I discovered quite by accident late last year when I came across her gem of a novella Merry Mistletoe. It was a gorgeous story which really struck a chord with me and I would urge anyone to read it and not fall in love with the characters and plot. It was certainly one of the best Christmas offerings published last year. Since then I have read Emma's first full length novel Letting in Light and I loved it just as much as the festive treat that was Merry Mistletoe. In my mind Emma is a vastly underrated author who deserves much more attention and for a loyal, wide readership to follow her work. She has such a way with writing that instantly draws you into the story and doesn't relinquish it's grip until the final word. You always feel right at home in whatever setting she has created as they are so vividly described. It's like you've visited the place even though it is only a work of fiction. You find yourself really getting inside the characters heads and experiencing all their emotions and all the ups and downs in their lives. You're with them right through to the bitter end in the hopes a happy conclusion can be reached.
This new story from Emma, Spring Fever, is the second in a planned four part series called Tales from Appleyard and having loved part one so much I couldn't wait to dive in and once again return to some familiar characters and meet some new people. There is no need in the slightest to have read part one before reading Spring Fever but trust me as soon as you finish this tale you'll immediately want to go back and read all about Freya's story as she battles to keep Sherbourne mistletoe going. Spring Fever focuses on Merry and Tom who had a brief mention previously. They are for the most part happily married with a new baby Robyn and have swapped running a successful country house hotel for a small cottage Five Penny House and a derelict shop. They may have downsized but they still have big dreams and aspirations and hope to do up the shop and bring it back to its former glory.
Although Merry is the main character in this book we still get to see how Freya and Tom are getting on now and I was so glad they had been included as they held a special place in my heart and it was great to see they hadn't been forgotten. There is a fine line between filling in some back-story and giving away too much of a plot of a previous story. Thankfully here Emma Davies achieves the balance nicely for those who may not have read Merry Mistletoe. Also in a way being a year since I read that story it refreshed my mind and made me all the more eager to indulge in more tales from Appleyard. This story is all about the future and new beginnings and working through the difficult times to come out stronger on the other side. Merry is finding things tough trying to breast feed her daughter and is beginning to feel like a failure and under severe pressure. She begins to wonder whether the move was the right thing to do or is it all just bad timing? But the house and a beautifully written character might just start to work their magic. Or is their a curse on the house as rumoured around the village?
Merry like Freya before her was a wonderfully written character who you rooted for from the outset. You felt her apprehension yet as time goes on you feel her grow in strength and character and as she uncovers the secrets the house has long kept hidden and forgotten it helps her move forward in the present. Cora was a brilliant addition to the story and in a way I felt she was similar to the Amos character we had meet in part one. They both had similar roles to play and played them to perfection. They stepped in at just the right time with some brilliant piece of advice, a comforting word or just that little something that Merry doesn't even realise she needs at that time. There was an almost mystical quality about her and she seemed so warm, caring and inviting. There was an almost magical/ethereal quality to this story but it didn't feel in the least bit contrived and normally I would really dislike this aspect in a book but again it slotted in so well with the overall themes and content of the story. I really felt Spring Fever was as strong as Merry Mistletoe and just a lovely, lovely story that made me fall even more in love with Tales from Appleyard. The story moved along at a great pace but really the action was ramped up a gear towards the end when weather placed a crucial role and had me on the edge of my seat with the tension and suspense.
I wouldn't hesitate in recommending this book to enjoy over the next few weeks when you can grab a few spare minutes to curl up on the sofa. Emma Davies has certainly been busy as 2017 will see publication of her next full length novel Turn Towards the Sun and the next two novellas Gooseberry Fool and Blackberry Way which will include Tales from Appleyard. I can't wait to read them and see what new characters we will encounter and what will happen next.
Many thanks to Lawsome books via NetGalley for my copy of Spring Fever to review and to Sharon for having my review on the blog.