Welcome to today’s stop on the blog tour for Summer in Provence by Lucy Coleman. And doesn’t that sound good just at the moment? Thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in the tour and to Boldwood Books for my review copy via NetGalley. Do be sure to check out the posts by my tour buddies Adele at kraftireader and Lynne at Just4MyBooks.
You can read my review below but, before you do, why not enter the giveaway for a chance to win a signed paperback copy of A Springtime to Remember and a Boldwood Tote bag.
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About the Book
Is a change as good as a rest?
When married couple Fern and Aiden have a windfall, their reactions could not be more different. While Fern is content to pay off their mortgage and build a nest egg before starting a family, her husband is set on traveling the world.
Fern’s not much of a back-packer so, before she knows it, the idea of a ‘marriage gap year’ takes shape. And, as Aiden heads off to the wilds of Australia, Fern chooses the more restful Provence for her year out.
Set amidst the glorious French scenery, Château de Vernon offers a retreat from the hustle and bustle of normal life, and Fern agrees to help out in return for painting lessons from the owner – renowned, but rather troubled, painter Nico.
As their year unfolds in very different ways, will the time apart transform their marriage, or will it drive Fern and Aiden even further apart…
Format: e-book (352 pages) Publisher: Boldwood Books
Publication date: 2nd April 2020 Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Romance
Find Summer in Provence on Goodreads
Although the book’s title is Summer in Provence, events take place over the course of a year (and beyond). I really enjoyed how the author conjured up the effect of the changing seasons on the landscape around the Château and there are some particularly charming scenes as the team and their guests celebrate Christmas. Bûche de Noël, anyone?
Fern’s discovery of, and growing confidence in, her artistic talent is really heart-warming to follow. But maybe it’s not only her creativity that will be kindled? When you have a man described as having mesmerizing dark brown eyes, being instantly magnetic and being well cast as Mr Darcy and that person turns out to be Fern’s mentor and founder of the establishment, Nico Gallegos, surely we know what will happen? Throw in the fact he is a bit of a tortured soul and you have the perfect romantic hero. Ah, but in the skilled hands of the author I can assure you it’s not as simple as that.
I loved the way Fern’s innate empathy and intuitive instincts allowed her to bond with some of the guests at the retreat such as Kellie, a young woman with a troubled past. Like me, you may well give a little cheer at the course of a particular Skype call concerning Kellie’s future. Patricia was another lovely character who, as it turns out, holds the key to solving an important problem. As for Fern herself, she tends to underestimate her qualities resulting in one rather lovely moment involving a sheet of paper.
Aiden appears infrequently in person and, for that reason, initially I found it a little difficult to understand Fern’s continued devotion to him given the upheaval he has visited on their lives. His protestations of affection didn’t seem quite consistent with his behaviour and lack of communication during their time apart. Again, the author has some unexpected twists and turns up her sleeve to wrongfoot the reader’s expectations.
There are lovely little touches such as the apposite chapter headings and the author’s parting gift, as it were, giving the reader a glimpse of possible futures for the main characters in the book. Does absence make the heart grow fonder for Fern and Aiden? I’m sure you don’t expect me to tell you! You’re just going to have to read the book to find out.
Summer in Provence, with its heart-warming story set in glorious scenery, is the ideal pick-me-up for the times we’re living through. “When good things happen to good people, it leaves such a warm feeling in your heart.” Amen.
In three words: Romantic, uplifting, engaging
Try something similar: The House That Alice Built by Chris Penhall
About the Author
From interior designer to author, Linn B. Halton – who also writes under the pen name of Lucy Coleman – says ‘it’s been a fantastic journey!’ Linn is the bestselling author of more than a dozen novels, including Summer on the Italian Lakes, Snowflakes over Holly Cove, The French Adventure and A Cottage in the Country. She is represented by Sara Keane of the Keane Kataria Literary Agency.
When she’s not writing, or spending time with the family, she’s either upcycling furniture, working in the garden, or practising Tai Chi. Living in Coed Duon in the Welsh Valleys with her ‘rock’, Lawrence, and gorgeous Bengal cat Ziggy, she is an eternal romantic. Linn is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Society of Authors and writes feel-good, uplifting novels about life, love and relationships.