Leanne and her teenage daughter Abby have recently been forced to move from London back to Kesterley-on-Sea, to Ash Morley Farm where Leanne grew up. Leanne's husband Jack, Abby's father, killed himself over a year ago, and the pair are still reeling from the shock waves caused by the tragedy.
Also living at Ash Morley farm is Leanne's mother Wilkie, who is a rock for everyone, and family friend Klaudia and her two children. Klaudia has to face the backlash of xenophobic feeling post the Brexit vote, and is on tenterhooks to hear whether she and her children will be sent home to Poland.
Hoping to move forward and mend the wounds her family has suffered, Leanne decides to foster a child. And when she's told that Daniel's father is in prison for murder, she hardly bats an eyelid. But as Daniel becomes integrated into the family, Leanne starts asking herself questions about his father's conviction. Is he really guilty? With the help of friend and ex detective Andee Lawrence, Leanne sets out to right the wrongs of the past.
I've read quite a few of Susan Lewis' earlier books but it's been a number of years since I read one, despite buying copies of the books in her No Child of Mine trilogy and the first couple in her Detective Andee Lawrence series, a character who makes an appearance in this book to offer support and advice when Leanne believes that an injustice has been done.
Leanne is a strong woman who has already been through so much in her life, with the death of her husband and having to sell her house and move back home to her family's farm in Kesterley-on-Sea, but despite everything she still wants to do whatever she can to help others which is why she decides to become a foster carer. My one little niggle with this aspect of the storyline regarding the fostering of Daniel was the apparent ease of the process, from the decision to apply to foster children to the subsequent placement, but I know in reality you can't really write about the long period of legalities, steps and hurdles that you need to go through to be approved so I was able to let that go. I personally know a couple of friends who are amazing foster carers and it's a selfless job offering love and support to vulnerable children, I don't know if I would be strong enough to do it.
But it wasn't only Leanne who was there for Daniel, there was a wonderful support network of family and friends, from her mother Wilkie to daughters Abby locally and Kate overseas, as well as her friend Klaudia and her children Mia and Adam. Wilkie, along with her late sister Glory, had turned Ash Morley into a wonderful community with converting the various buildings into houses and rental properties. I loved the sound of this idyllic set up in the heart of the countryside, peace and tranquility if you want it to take time out to think or recharge your batteries, but always someone around on hand to offer a listening ear or moral support if needed.
Wilkie was such a delightful, eccentric character who I instantly warmed to and wished I had someone like that in my life. As for the tumultuous relationship between Leanne and Abby I suspect that this was to be expected from everything they have been through and it was clear that Abby had her fair share of issues bottled up that she needed to address but time is a healer as they say. Klaudia also had her own issues to contend with on a daily basis, from the verbal abuse she has endured from a minority of local residents to her fight to get residency in a country she's called home to for many years and the only home her children have known.
Believe in Me is a book about second chances, a new start for Leanne and Abby, a fight for residency for Klaudia, and a loving home for Daniel although he still dreams about being reunited with his father Patrick. A wonderful, heartwarming story from start to finish which had me cheerleading for them all to get the outcomes they so wanted and needed. I have today just bought a copy of her latest paperback Hiding in Plain Sight which is also part of her Detective Andee Lawrence series so think I need to try and catch up with reading the other books first!
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