In brief: Clio’s left New York after a scandal to buy the deserted lodge of her childhood. As she and her team work to rebuild it, they find happiness and mystery in equal parts.
The good: Rebecca Raisin’s books are always feel-good – sparkles and happiness.
The not-so-good: It’s part of a series so I don’t know what’s happened to everyone yet!
Why I chose it: I love Rebecca’s work – thanks to Carina UK for the eARC.
Publisher: Carina UK
Setting: New Hampshire, USA
My rating: 9 out of 10
Nobody can ever read Rebecca Raisin’s books and fail to come out with a smile of their face. Her books have that special sparkle that puts a twinkle in your eye and for the more jaded, redeems faith in the goodness of people. I was intrigued to start a new series, set at the beautiful but decaying Cedarwood Lodge. All the characters are new, but they will become good friends.
Clio has left her job in New York City as a wedding planner after a scandal. (The scandal is both juicy and funny, but I’m not going to spoil the surprise here). She’s returned to Evergreen, the home of her youth. As a child, she and best friend Micah used to play in the grounds of the deserted Cedarwood Lodge. Now Clio’s bought it with the aim of restoring it to its former glory. Micah’s in, as is gardener Isla and manager Kai. Everyone is determined to turn the lodge into the talk of the town. Their first mission is an anniversary party for a couple married at the lodge a long time ago. There are problems at the house, but Clio’s got other troubles. Her mother is frankly against anything to do with the lodge and there’s childhood sweetheart Timothy in town too.
Being the first part of three, the reader doesn’t get all the answers to the problems, which I’m really grateful for. The sense of intrigue as to what’s up with Clio’s mum is great (and a tasty bit of information is revealed right at the end of the book). I’m also not too sure who Clio’s love interest will be – initially there was old friend Micah, handsome Aussie surfer Kai and former flame Timothy. While this story takes one of these men off the list, there’s enough mystery for me not to be able to guess who Clio will fall for. I’m really excited for the next instalment and hope that Clio’s friend from New York sticks around!
For those who miss the food descriptions of the Gingerbread Café, you will rejoice at knowing that Clio’s aunt has a delicious café with delectable treats. I’m hoping for more descriptions of food in the next story. There’s also more secrets at the lodge to discover in the wilds of the grounds – a secret maze! I will be very interested to see how this links in with Clio’s mum.
As I’m sure you can tell from the above, the story is packed full of interesting threads, but it never feels too dense or rushed. It’s a thought provoking read that really gets you into the small town spirit and is gorgeously enjoyable.