Emma Nightingale needs a place to hide away. Pursued by the demons left by her ex-boyfriend, she takes refuge in quiet Crickleford, a sleepy town in Dartmoor, where she can lay low.
Life in Crickleford is quiet and peaceful, but it won’t be for long if people discover the truth about Emma’s past. Not wanting to make too much of a fuss, she ends up lying about why she's there - she's looking after some cats, she says - then suddenly the town’s new ‘pet-sitter’ is in high demand!
While looking after an Alsatian, Emma finds all attention is on her, and the handsome young reporter from the local paper takes an interest in her story...
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Thanks to Penguin House UK, Ebury Digital for my copy of the Pets at Primrose Cottage: A Place to Hide to review via NetGalley and to Sharon for having my review on the blog.
Normally I wouldn't dream of reading the first part of a series unless I knew I could read the remainder of the book immediately after. I find it difficult waiting until full length publication but I always manage to hold out and would be glad I have done so. So what made me read the first in a new series from Sheila Norton, an author who I had never read before? I think it was both the beautiful cover and the catchy sounding title that drew my attention to this book.
The Pets of Primrose Cottage: Part One A Place to Hide was a very quick read and in fact turned out to be just what I was looking for when I had an hour or two to spare and didn't want to become bogged down in a full length book. This opening to the new series provided just enough intrigue to keep the readers hooked whilst introducing a cast of new characters. There were numerous storylines put in place, some of which the outcomes already seem obvious whereas others I'm not quite sure what direction they will go in even though tantalising clues have been dropped. I realise there has to be a balance between what is revealed, and what is kept hidden for the moment, given this is only the first of four parts but the impatient side of me wanted all the answers now but I will have quite a while before the final outcome is revealed.
Crickleford in Devon on the edges of Dartmoor is the setting for this book. Like many other books I have read in this genre there is the distinct small town feel, where at times the town can feel very small in terms of the fact everyone knows everyone else's business and any news can spread like wildfire. So the arrival of a new resident, Emma Nightingale taking up a room as a lodger with Lauren Atkinson and her family allows for plenty of gossip and questions.
The reader will have similar questions regarding Emma just like the residents do. But Emma is not revealing much and in fact what she does reveal is innumerable lies which really made me frustrated with her. I wouldn't use the word hate regarding the character of Emma but she really wasn't someone I could easily warm too as she told lie upon lie when clearly there was no need for it. Yes she wanted to keep her recent past hidden, and the reasons for coming to such a small village, but her lies were too far fetched and only got her in to a tangled web that would become increasingly difficult to get out of. Quite why she felt the need to go to such lengths is beyond me. It really was a case of once she started she couldn't stop and she was more than reluctant to admit the truth for fear people would laugh at her or even criticise.
There are brief glimpses into the reasons as to why Emma has returned from America and even why she can't stay with her parents. I have my own suspicions as to the exact reasons for Emma running away from everything and I am interested to see will they be proven correct in the end. Clearly Emma is escaping from something that caused her great hurt but also humiliation. She lived a totally different life in contrast to the situation she finds herself in now and to some extent probably wishes nothing had changed and that she didn't find herself living in someone else's house and with very little money. Emma is seeking anonymity,to be uncontactable, to hide her true identity and lifestyle but she hasn't bargained on the inquisitiveness of the residents of Crickleford.
It was enjoyable to read of Emma's exploits as again her lies see her end up working as a cat and dog sitter. Any book which features animals is always a winner for me and I enjoyed this part of the story immensely. There are numerous characters introduced but all very fleeting in particular Matt Sorrento, the local newspaper reporter. I'd love to see more of these people featured more in the future parts of the story.
Overall A Place to Hide was a nice introduction to the series although way too fleeting for me. Emma is an enigma of a character who really does need to grow on me as her actions in this part didn't make me see her true character which is surely lurking there under the surface. I'll definitely be back to see what happens next in part two New Beginnings, a sample chapter of which was included here.
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