Friday, 16 March 2018

Emma's Review: The Summer of Secrets by Tilly Tennant

Reviewed by Emma Crowley

Can new love grow when you dig up old secrets?

Harper Woods wakes up every morning on Silver Hill Farm feeling like the luckiest woman in the world. She’s engaged to the tall, dark dreamy Shay and just downstairs are the gorgeous tea rooms she’s always dreamed of owning. 

But Harper is about to discover something that will change her luck forever. For better or worse? She has no idea. Not until an expert can identify whether the stunning collection of jewellery she found hidden in the farm’s foundations is priceless, or more trouble than it’s worth… 

As news of the discovery spreads through the Silver Hill, it seems everyone has a secret history making them the rightful owner. In particular, Will Frampton, stubborn and irritatingly handsome Lord of Silver Hill House, the crumbling stately home the other side of the hill. Too busy trying to untangle the truth, Harper doesn’t notice Shay getting rather close to his ex from the village. 

Harper thought she had everything she ever wanted. If she solves the mystery of her sparkling prize, can she hold onto her dream, or will she lose it all, and be left broken-hearted?

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Many thanks to Bookouture via NetGalley for my copy of The Summer of Secrets to review and to Sharon for having my review on the blog.

In Tilly Tennant's new book, The Summer of Secrets, the author takes us to Silver Hill Farm which is an idyllic spot overlooking beautiful landscapes and for Harper Woods this is the place she calls home. She feels lucky to be living in such a serene and picturesque area. At last Harper finally begins to feel the bad times are rooted firmly in the past and all things good are now about to happen. Previously,Harper believed herself to be cursed but now she knows for sure that she is one of the luckiest women alive. Her experiences in her last relationship, where her partner was cruel and controlling, had a deep effect on her but now she looks to the future and embraces positivity and change with gusto. Now she never takes anything for granted, making the most of each day and the challenges it can bring be it good or bad. But still she couldn't say she is ever 100% completely content as there is always a slight restlessness there at the back of her mind.

In reality, I don't think anyone is ever fully at peace as there is always that little niggle that something could come along to upset the apple cart. Harper is happily running the Silver Hill Tea Rooms with help from her friend Pip who also is also dealing with her own personal trauma, it was brilliant to see this storyline feature and it needs to find a place in more books in this genre. Shay, Harper's fiancée, who seemed to be the epitomy of the perfect man when we met him as he worked on getting the holiday lets built and up and running is the last piece of the puzzle that falls into place for Harper. But as the title suggest a summer of secrets, unrest, change and discoveries could be just about to shatter the tranquillity and ideal life Harper has envisioned for herself.

I really enjoyed how we got straight into the story, there was no mucking around with lots of setting up of the back stories to characters. Instead the author filled us in bit by bit as we progressed through the story as in on a very much need to know basis. The only slight fault I found with the story was just in the initial few chapters as I began to wonder was this a follow on book? It felt at times like I had missed out on bits of relevant information, soon I came to realise this wasn't the case and it was just the way the author had worded certain things that gave me this impression. Apart from this slight issue I really enjoyed this book, it was fresh and the mystery element and delving back into the past to uncover the truth behind the discovery made on the land was interesting.

A different slant to a tried and tested genre is always welcome. There was no toing and froing as to will they won't they? Harper had her man and Shay appeared to be a tower of strength for her and was always helpful around the farm. Although a small petting zoo, near to the café, is the extent of the farm. So one would have thought the café and keeping it going would have been the entire focus of the book but it wasn't in the slightest and I was relieved in a way as there are innumerable books focusing on this on the market at the moment.

As Shay works away digging the foundations he hits upon a box long buried that contains mysterious items that instantly has Harper and the reader asking – why was it buried there and what are the meanings behind said items? This is what sets in motion a chain of events that turn Harper's world upside down. Her peace and contentment is shattered and her worst fears come true. Poor Harper, I felt she was looking for stability and peace of mind and she was achieving this. She loved her café and felt like she was really doing something on her own terms for her own personal gain but all that goes out the window as the discovery needs to be investigated and with this new characters and further secrets became to make their way out of the woodwork. Life may not have been as pleasant and perfect as Harper believed it to be. Friction, doubt and unease are now the dominant emotions making their way into her life. It begins to feel as if the box would have been better off left undiscovered so everything could have continued on as normal.

Cesca, is a smart, mature, professional woman who works as the Finds Liaison Officer for Salisbury Museum. It is she who is sent to determine the origins of the box, she relishes challenges like this but has she taken on more than she can chew? Will her ultimate conclusions do more damage than good? I loved the character of Cesca, she never gave up and exhausted all avenues as she knew her eventual decision would have an impact on a lot of people. One of these being Lord Frampton, Will, who was a character I couldn't get the measure of at all. One minute he came across as nice and caring and the next he was cold and unfriendly. He lives in isolation in Silver Hill House and has never done much to enamour himself to the residents of Cerne Hay. Will was certainly a character where you really needed to peel back the layers and get to the root of the person behind the façade. I thought at one stage he was going to be the ultimate baddy as he was so hell bent on claiming the find as rightfully his, but once we got to know more about him I understood his actions and motivations a lot more. I knew the eventual outcome I wanted for Harper but I hoped it wouldn't be to the detriment of Will's wishes and needs.

Kristofer Blake, a Norwegian writer staying in the village for several months takes a keen interest in the find and wants to help Harper and Cesca. Oh my god Kristofer was just like a big friendly giant, I just wanted him to wrap me in his embrace and never let me go. He was so kind and never forceful and just wanted to help anybody in any way he could. I did initially think oh where has he come from, just suddenly popping up the way he did but then really he stole a piece of my heart and he still has it. This best sums up how I feel about Kristofer and I am sure many many readers will feel the same. 'He was handsome, strong and intelligent – the holy trinity of hotness'. Truly Tilly Tennant couldn't have worded it any better.

The one character who I felt deserved very little sympathy was that of Allie, I thought she made her bed and she had to lie in it. Though her actions brought out the true colours of some one else I still didn't like her and I felt she gave scant consideration to the people she was going to deeply hurt. I understand a change needed to occur and the truth and emotions come to the fore but I had made my mind up about her fairly early on and this was one case where I didn't change it. Despite not liking Allie I really did enjoy this book.

Like most of the characters I wanted to get to the bottom of the mystery of the box but really the uncovering of the box was just a means of uncovering much deeper goings on in Cerne Hay. Were the residents ready for it or not? Did everything work out or does upset still abound? I would definitely recommend you pick up this book to discover all the answers and also get to meet the wonderful Harper. I hope Tilly Tennant will write more books featuring these characters, or even some new characters in the same setting, as I feel there are a few more stories to be told yet.

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