Monday, 7 May 2018

Emma's Review: Twilight Song by Cressida McLaughlin (The House of Birds and Butterflies, Book 3)

Reviewed by Emma Crowley

Spring is blooming at Meadowsweet nature reserve. Although the sunshine is drawing in the visitors like never before, events co-ordinator Abby knows she’s treading on thin ice. She’s spending more and more time with village newcomer Jack, and she’ll need to make a real success of the springtime camping extravaganza at the reserve if she’s to keep her disgruntled boss off her back.

Abby hasn’t thrown too many questions at Jack about his shadowy past – she’s enjoying the budding romance, so why break the spell? But when the secrets start spilling out and a glamorous blonde presenter from the nature show, Wild Wonders, turns Jack’s head, Abby knows it’s time to face the music…

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Many thanks to Harper Collins UK via NetGalley for my copy of Twilight Song to review and to Sharon for having my review on the blog.

Twilight Song is the third part in Cressida McLaughlin's The House of Birds and Butterflies series and without question it has been the best yet. I felt we really got inside the characters mindset and gained a deeper understanding and appreciation of their thoughts, actions and words. So many things that had been niggling away at me now began to make sense and although not all of my questions have been answered, I now have a clearer picture as to what direction various plot lines are going in. My opinions of both the main characters Abby Field and Jack Westcoat have changed and I think Jack as a person is now more approachable and I feel more empathy towards him as the reader is coming to the realisation that not everything is clear cut. That we shouldn't believe rumours or firmly take on board first impressions. This is something Abby has been struggling with and I enjoyed reading of how her heart and mind are in a battle together. She is fearful of getting hurt but at the same time her heart and soul is telling her something different from what her initial common sense reactions might have been warning her of.

It's springtime in the village of Meadowgreen and as Abby works away on the Meadowsweet Nature reserve as events co-ordinator but the pressures of her job are ever increasing. So much so she is now seeking solace more so than ever in the walks she enjoys with her rescue huskey Raffle. Throughout this series there has been a sense of apprehension and stress with regard to the future of the reserve. If visitor numbers and annual memberships do not increase then the long term future of such a special place is very much in doubt. Cressida has done such a wonderful job of building up a picture of the reserve that I can picture it so vividly in my mind. The uniqueness and special qualities this area has are there for all to see but it's such a shame that Abby cannot fully let go and enjoy the work she loves so much.

Owner Penelope is putting that extra strain on Abby to get things moving and increase the reserves popularity, but surely the buck doesn't fully stop with Abby? Up until now I felt Penelope was very much a cold fish who wore a suit of armour which was very hard to crack but in part three there were glimmers of a more softer side and the reader is slowly beginning to realise that Penelope herself does care so much but there are external tensions creating so much anxiety in her life. I am very keen to see how Penelope's strand of the story pans out as I sense Swallowtail House and the relationship she had with her late husband all still very much have a crucial role to play. That said I do believe Abby is doing her best and the camping event she organised was a joy to read about.

What really made me enjoy Twilight Song was that the dancing around each other that Jack and Abby took part in and the tentative steps towards something more than friendship finally began to go that little but further. Now I totally understand Abby's hesitancy, not alone does Jack have a reputation due to an incident with a fellow author, but there is also the fact her own personal history has a forbearing on how she acts in the present with regard to relationships with the opposite sex. Up until now I couldn't understand her reluctance to give into her feelings and be more open with Jack. Saying that Jack is very much the same, he is still keeping things hidden for reasons only he knows. But I felt towards the end of this part of the story they both began to open and the wool was pulled from their eyes.

We don't have all the firm solid answers to every question yet but we are nearing that pivotal point where everything will hopefully make sense. Poor Abby is getting advice from her sister Tessa but perhaps it is not the advice she wanted to her. Normally Tessa is rooting for Abby to get out there on the dating scene and find love and happiness but now this is not the case. Have Jack's actions ruined everything for him or will the tide of public opinion begin to change? I really wanted Abby just to throw caution to the wind and go for it, to take a risk, a chance on love and see where it would take her. It's only as she reveals little hints of her past that her indecision made sense and I could see why she was so torn in two. She has said in the past that she can't deal with new relationships for fear of falling for the wrong guy but really if we all approached dating that attitude we would never have any opportunity to experience love, joy and contentment in our lives.

I thoroughly enjoyed Twilight Song and even though it is short in length it was just the read I needed as I was tired after a long day and I only had an hour or so's reading time. This part has set us up nicely for the conclusion Birds of a Feather which arrives on May 18th. I am dying to know how everything works out in relation to Abby and Jack of course but also Penelope and the nature reserve. Cressida McLaughlin has written such a wonderful, heart warming series with characters that will captivate you. If you haven't started The House of Birds and Butterflies series yet, I strongly recommend you do so.

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