Sunday 8 May 2022

Emma's Review: The Little Cornish House by Donna Ashcroft

Reviewed by Emma Crowley 

Thirty-year-old Ruby is done with love: no more drama, no more complications, no more men. She’s living life for herself and that’s just the way she likes it. But her whole world is turned upside down when her grandmother calls to say her beloved pottery business is failing, and she might lose her beautiful little Cornish house by the sea. She needs Ruby to come back to Cornwall and save the day…

Returning to Indigo Cove stirs up memories Ruby would rather forget, but she’s determined to save her grandmother’s home. As the summer hots up so does the pressure on Ruby and she’s in need of a distraction. Although quite literally walking into Gabe Roskilly, the sexy and brooding owner of the local brewery, wasn’t part of her game plan.

Ruby tries to ignore her attraction to Gabe but it’s impossible to avoid the tall, dark, handsome stranger as Gabe is at the centre of village life. And when Ruby’s plans for the little Cornish house start to fall apart, she discovers Gabe might be the one person who can help her. Ruby’s promise to stay single is tested to the limit. But are Gabe’s intentions all good… or is Ruby about to get her heart broken again?

Can Ruby save her grandmother’s cottage and find true happiness this summer? Or will secrets from the past ruin everything?

Book Links: Kindle or Paperback

Many thanks to Bookouture via NetGalley for my copy of The Little Cornish House to review and to Sharon for having my review on the blog.

A gorgeous title and cover, a stunning setting, fabulous and varied characters and a good solid storyline all await you in this new story from Donna Ashcroft The Little Cornish House. Donna’s books always provide that perfect slice of escapism when you need it the most and this book proved to be no exception. The characters walk off the page to meet you and invite you into the wonderful setting of Indigo Cove where Ruby Penhaligon has just arrived to visit her grandmother Lila affectionately known as Nanou. 

It’s been over a year since she has visited and Lila needs Ruby’s help to run her pottery business. Ruby’s family history is not all that solid and she has an estranged relationship with her father, Ross,  believing him to be the cause of her mother’s death through his fruitful promises in his quest for fast, easy money, If only he had exerted those efforts into his marriage and relationship with his daughter than things could have turned out so differently. Ruby when she has visited Indigo Cove in the past had tended to stay away from the locals in case any had been friends with her father. But now Indigo Cove has called her back and with mysterious goings on in the village and Nanou needing help to make sure The Pottery Project stays open, Ruby perhaps has no choice but to  get stuck into things. It’s like the village is taking her by the hand and making her confront everything she has kept buried for so long.

Ruby has kept her love life protected for fear of getting hurt. She keeps her life free from attachments and it’s clear from the outset this all stems from the lack of relationship she has with her father. He promised so much but never delivered and when she sees Nanou’s house is in desperate need of renovation she thinks here we go again. Ross has promised he will provide the funds to fix things and Nanou believes him but Ruby is not so sure. He has let them down time and time again in the past what makes things any different now. 

It’s clear from the outset that Ruby has significant personal problems from when she was younger and she has carried these through to the present day. You wouldn’t blame her as Ross dipped in and out of her life so much and she has come to view him as being dishonest, deceitful, unreliable and as slippery as an eel. This had led to major trust issues for Ruby and she can’t open herself up to people no matter even when a good thing is staring her straight in the face. I found it frustrating that the actions of the past had such a negative impact on her so much so that her judgement in the present was deeply affected. She used to love pottery and was good at it, having being coached under the watchful eye of Nanou but why did she stop? It’s like she has closed off her heart to the good things in life and is afraid to let it unfurl and let dangerous things into her life. But everything need not be dangerous. There are good things waiting for her if only she can let her barriers down.

I wanted her to just take a chance or a risk and go for it and not to be so closed minded when it came to life opportunities, be it romantic or otherwise potentially coming her way. The actions of the past shouldn’t always impact the present or the future and if she could realise this and come to terms with what she had been covering up than perhaps love and happiness could find a way into her life. Ruby was a brilliant, yet frustrating, character as I have said but underneath it all she was a good person. I loved the relationship she had with Lila and that she did play her part in trying to solve the mysterious goings on in Indigo Cove. She was always so willing to help others. To give her time, to offer support, to lend an ear when someone needed to offload. This is demonstrated when she takes it upon herself to solve a personal issue regarding her best friend Anna Lovejoy. 

I won’t go into specifics as to what it is suffice to say things get very deep and personal and its starts to invade on Ruby’s own personal and romance development. This aspect of the storyline although I could see its relevance to Ruby as a character and her history, to be honest I just found it to be a little extra to requirements. I think the book would have worked well enough without it and the male character Gabe would have come to the realisation he eventually did without this taking place. I know it’s not the main focal point of the overall plot but this dogged determinedness Ruby had to solve something and prove her instincts to be correct irked me a little bit. I felt her interests and determination were best used elsewhere.

Of course, in a book of this nature there has to be a strong male lead to provide the romance element and this comes in the form of local brewer Gabe Roskilly. I loved that Gabe wasn’t your typical male character that in fact he had many sides to him. There was an aura of doubt about him, that he lacked complete faith in his abilities and basically he was just human and life wasn’t always straightforward and easy for him. He was a well-rounded, multi-faceted character whose loyalties lay with the family business and his brother Aaron. There was that something about him that would make any woman drawn to him and I desperately hoped that Ruby would see this too and be able to push through her trust issues and embrace what Gabe could potentially offer. Gabe has run the brewery ever since his parents died and now it is close to celebrating its centenary. He meets Ruby when he is making special tankards at The Pottery Project and through the weird events occurring in the village and the subsequent group set up to try and catch the culprits a friendship develops between the pair. One in which you hope it can turn into something much much more.

As well as lots of unexplained incidents in the village, Gabe’s life seems to be mirroring what is happening in the village and it’s as if the brewery is coming under fire. Lots of things happen and some are very malicious. I had my suspicions as to what and who it was but as for the reasons I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. There were several characters acting suspiciously and I hoped that Ruby would help Gabe get to the bottom of it. This is what I loved about this book that it wasn’t all about romance, boy meets girl etc. There was a lot more to it and the unusual events happening allowed lots of other strands and subplots to feed out from the many story and in doing so it gave Ruby and Gabe time to get to know each other but when the truth is revealed will the friendship they have built up fragment forever or can they both see a way to opening their hearts to love?

There were lots of other characters briefly mentioned throughout the book which gives me the impression, well I am hoping and have my fingers crossed, that there will be more from Indigo Cove in the future and that this won’t be a one-off visit as I really did enjoy this book. It was an easy read, perfect for your summer holidays or really in fact any time of year. Everyone looks out for one another and both Ruby and Gabe go on a journey of discovery to face some home truths and hopefully along the way they will both allow love into their world. Love and forgiveness feature strongly alongside a wide cast of interesting characters that will quickly find a way into you heart. All in all this was a delightful read with plenty of twists and turns to keep you reading on.

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