Sunday, 8 July 2018

Emma's Review: Birds of a Feather by Cressida McLaughlin (The House of Birds and Butterflies, Book 4)

Reviewed by Emma Crowley

Summer is in full swing on the Meadowsweet Nature Reserve and Abby is wondering what the future holds for her and Jack. Can she trust that he has left his bad-boy image behind? When an unwanted face from Jack’s past shows up – Abby gets a shock and she realises that it isn’t just Jack who needs to examine his heart – perhaps she does too?

With the nature reserve’s future also hanging in the balance, this is one summer of sunshine and secrets that Abby will never forget…

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Many thanks to Harper Fiction UK for my copy of The House and Birds and Butterflies to review and to Sharon for having my review on the blog.

At long last with the conclusion of The House of Birds and Butterflies series - Birds of a Feather - all the questions that had been bubbling away in my mind will be provided with an answer. All the little hints and teasers that have been dropped throughout the first three parts of this series will have their resolutions and conclusions. But that's not to say everything will be smooth sailing for Abby Field. There are plenty of bumps in the road to navigate before Abby has any chance of finding long term happiness.

The most obvious of all being how can Meadowsweet Nature Reserve be saved before such a beautiful and special place will be lost forever? One thing is for sure Abby has devoted too much time, care and attention to see everything slip through her fingers with no hope of clawing things back. She and her fellow co-workers and friends are not going down without a fight and the same can be said for the feelings she has for thriller writer Jack Westcoat. Are these feelings reciprocated or is there just too much baggage and trauma standing in their way in order for Abby to find her happily ever after?

I have loved Abby right from the beginning of this series, she is passionate about her job as events manager at the reserve and at all times has proven to be hard working and loyal. No mater how many obstacles and difficulties are placed in her path she has always tried to make the best of a bad situation. She seeks solutions and just wants to make everyone happy particularly her boss Penelope. As things seem to be going from bad to worse for the reserve and the abandoned yet hauntingly beautiful Swallowtail House is in danger of having to be sold Abby has one last chance to come up with some new and exciting initiatives which might just prevent the reserve from closing. It's an awful lot of responsibility and pressure to fall on one person's shoulders but Abby has proven time and time again she has what it takes. With the help of her fellow co-workers the idea of a Summer Spectacular is launched and plans begin in earnest. Will it be a spectacular that will attract the crowds? Will all the brilliant smaller ideas Abby has combine to make the event a success? Will the long term future of the reserve be secured? Or is all too much too late?

I loved how the camaraderie, friendship and community spirit shone through as everyone worked towards one common goal. Their enthusiasm was there in spades as they were all inspired by Abby. She wanted to continue to excite and press upon people how unique the reserve was and that nature was all around them and should be appreciated and enjoyed. I loved the twists and turns that developed as we neared the end of the story. Some were surprising to say the least, although I would have loved a little bit more development of one as it seemed so much mystery had surrounded it I was under the impression that there was going to be one huge shocking reveal. Although there was a reveal of sorts I just still have that small niggling feeling that maybe more could have been done with regard to this aspect of the story.

Part three Twilight Song ended on a cliffhanger and as we returned to Abby and Jack, I was so glad that he was finally opening up with regard to his past and the predicament he finds himself in with his career in the present. Finally things were becoming much more clearer, that said when he had explained everything I was still in two minds. I really thought despite you giving your all to a friendship and making sacrifices that are more or less career damaging you kept going back for more. For Jack there was a danger that too much carnage  had ensued and it was getting too late to get the truth out in the open once and for all or else he could kiss goodbye to any more of his books rocketing up the best sellers list. I loved how Abby stood by Jack and accepted what he said at face value, slowly she was starting to listen to her heart. I loved when it was mentioned that you are at Cupid's mercy, you can't help who you fall in love with and when it hits it is beyond your control. The only problem was there were so many external factors getting in the way that I began to doubt could Abby and Jack take the plunge once and for all?

Birds of a Feather was the perfect conclusion to what has been a thoroughly enjoyable series. Cressida McLaughlin goes from strength to strength with each book. She has that knack of creating characters that you warm to very easily and you always what the best possible outcome for them. Add in brilliant settings that you can picture so clearly in your mind and a cast of supporting characters both human and animal and it all makes the perfect recipe for a great book. Plus I can't fail to mention what beautiful covers this series and really all her books have had. They are bright, colourful and attractive and only support what wonderful writing and stories await you between the covers. Cressida's books provide comfort, joy and escape and The House of Birds and Butterflies has been no different.

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