Saturday, March 25, 2017

Book Reviews & Guest Post: Willow Cottage - A Spring Affair, Christmas Cheer & Sunshine and Secrets by Bella Osborne

 
Book reviews
By Suze
 
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Beth needs a fresh start and she wants to be far away from London. Together with her son Leo she moves to Dumbleford, a small Cotswolds village where she has bought a house. Willow Cottage looked romantic in the pictures, but it's more dilapidated than Beth expected. Her neighbor Jack knows how to renovate houses and he helps her with the work. A small country village isn't what she's used to at all and Beth sometimes doubts if she's made the right decision. Will she feel at home in her new place and will she be able to get over her past?

Carly lives in London and isn't completely happy with her boyfriend Fergus. She works as a sign language translator and her boyfriend is deaf. He doesn't have a regular nine to five job and spends most of his time in his pyjamas. She isn't as content as she was at the beginning of their relationship because she is ready for the next step and keeps hoping he will make a romantic gesture, when this doesn't happen she gets frustrated. She's wants him to propose, but is that ever going to happen?

Sunshine and Secrets is the first part of the Willow Cottage series. I immediately fell in love with the romantic setting. The cottage might be in a terrible state, but it definitely has potential and I can't wait to see what Beth will do with it. Jack is grumpy at first, but once she gets to know him Beth finds out he's actually really nice. I loved Leo, he's such an adorable little boy. Beth is a sweetheart and she's strong and resilient. Carly isn't happy with the fact she isn't engaged yet. She keeps having false hope and when time after time her boyfriend disappoints her she needs her best friend Beth more than ever. I enjoyed reading about their friendship and couldn't wait for them to see each other again. The story ends with a fantastic cliffhanger that has made me extremely curious.

The main characters of the Willow Cottage story are all intriguing. Bella Osborne alternates between Beth and her best friend Carly, who she left behind in London, so there's also enough information about the life Beth used to lead and the problems she's facing. That gives the story some extra depth, which I liked a lot. I look forward to finding out what will happen when Beth's past and present will come together.

Bella Osborne is great at creating cozy atmospheres. Her stories are always warm and welcoming and I love her easy flowing writing style. When I'm reading her stories I stop paying attention to what's happening around me until I've read the last sentence. I read this story in one sitting and am anxious to read more. I love Willow Cottage, it's the perfect setting for a beautiful romantic story and this series shows a lot of promise.
 
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Willow Cottage is more habitable and even though Beth still has plenty of work to do, the project isn't so daunting any longer. With the help of her kind neighbor Jack, Beth can manage a lot of the renovation work. She's still afraid her past will catch up with her, but she also has some more breathing space. Her son Leo has a new best friend and likes his school and it seems like Beth has made some valuable contacts as well. Will things finally look up for them?
 
Carly and her boyfriend Fergus are having problems. Carly wants Fergus to propose and they're having trouble communicating with one another. They aren't on the same wavelength at all. When Fergus has a family emergency in Ireland they have time to think about what's going on with them and they'll have to decide if they want to fix their relationship. Fortunately Carly can go to Willow Cottage when things get too much, but it isn't a permanent place to stay. Will she and Fergus be able to patch things up?
 
Beth and Carly are both struggling, but they have each other and that helps. Beth is planning on renovating her cottage and then she will leave. She has plenty of help, but is becoming quite handy as well. She isn't afraid to handle difficult tasks and she does plenty of things that are outside her comfort zone, like dog sitting. She sometimes messes up, but she keeps moving forward and I admired that about her character. I loved the friendship she has with Carly. They cheer each other up and they're always there for each other. I liked how honest they can be in their friendship and they're a great match. While Beth is always gentle, Carly is bold and strong-willed. I loved how fierce and protective she can be. It was fun to read about the two friends again and I couldn't turn the pages fast enough to see what would happen to them.
 
Bella Osborne has a lovely tone of voice. She also plays with tension and atmosphere in a skilled way that I always like very much. Willow Cottage and Dumbleford are gorgeous characteristic locations. I loved the eccentricity of the villagers and liked how Beth slowly finds a way to belong. Carly feels at home everywhere, which is fun to read about as well. They both have amazing men in their lives, but Jack and Fergus give them plenty of trouble too. I can't wait to see how the relationships will develop and am desperate to find out if Carly and Beth will indeed get their happy endings. The Willow Cottage series is fascinating, charming and romantic.
 
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Beth and Jack have a misunderstanding and therefore they aren't speaking to each other. Beth doesn't know how she can do the rest of the work on Willow Cottage on her own. She can do a lot of things herself, but sometimes she needs help. She misses watching Jack's dog, but there are certain things she can't risk. Will they be able to sort out their differences? Beth's ex is trying to track her down, will she and her son Leo still be safe in Dumbleford or is it time to move out of Willow Cottage?
 
 Carly and Fergus are trying to work on their relationship problems. Carly has found out a lot about the man she's living with that she didn't know before. She does her best not to be solely focused on a proposal any longer. Does Fergus eventually want to marry her or is he happy with the way things are going? Is Carly willing to be content with whatever Fergus might offer her or are her wishes too strong to be put on hold?
 
A Spring Affair is another wonderful Willow Cottage story. Beth is trying to find herself again after running away from London. Slowly the parts of her personality that she had to hide from her ex are coming to the surface and she's pleased she's feeling more like herself every day. She works hard on her healing process and I loved her determination. She's still afraid, but she won't let the fear paralyze her anymore. She's also trying to help her best friend Carly as much as she can and together they're going through many ups and downs. Carly and Fergus are getting a bit closer again and that warmed my heart, as Fergus is such a nice man and they both deserve a lot of happiness. I equally like both Carly and Beth and love how different they are. They're a fabulous combination.
 
Bella Osborne writes about a charming setting in the Cotswolds. I loved reading about the village pub, the seasonal festivities and the fantastic sense of community. Dumbleford is a romantic village and I really enjoy reading about it. Bella Osborne ends each of her Willow Cottage novellas with a cliffhanger and the ending of A Spring Affair is so gripping that I'll be counting the days until I can read part four. I highly recommend these terrific stories.
 
Advice
 
If you love reading about small towns, beautiful dilapidated cottages, wonderful main characters and plenty of drama you should definitely read the Willow Cottage novellas.

 About Bella Osborne
 

Bella has been jotting down stories as far back as she can remember but decided that 2013 would be the year that she finished a full length novel.

In 2016, her debut novel, 'It Started At Sunset Cottage', was shortlisted for the Contemporary Romantic Novel of the Year and RNA Joan Hessayon New Writers Award.

Bella's stories are about friendship, love and coping with what life throws at you. She likes to find the humour in the darker moments of life and weaves these into her stories. Bella believes that writing your own story really is the best fun ever, closely followed by talking, eating chocolate, drinking fizz and planning holidays.

She lives in The Midlands, UK with her lovely husband and wonderful daughter, who thankfully, both accept her as she is (with mad morning hair and a penchant for skipping).
For more about Bella, visit her website at www.bellaosborne.com or follow her on Twitter - @osborne_bella    

 Guest post

Hi With Love for Books,

Thank you for inviting me on to your blog today, it’s lovely to be here.

Whilst I am very proud of the books I have penned there is one book I truly wish I had written – Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding.

Despite what you may think this isn’t due to the large amount of money that it netted the author, it is for the pure pleasure it brought me and so many that read it.

At the time it was a book like no other. Its protagonist was a single woman in her thirties and it described in detail the reality of what this was like with hysterically funny results. We could all relate to Bridget.

It also spawned many other brilliant books that may not have been published if not for Bridget Jones and these authors have gone on to have long and prosperous careers and we the readers have been able to enjoy so many wonderfully flawed and funny female leads.

The book was shortly followed by the film and that is something I would truly love to have happen to one of my stories. How much fun must it have been for Helen Fielding to work with Richard Curtis on the film script? (I am a huge Richard Curtis fan and I credit him with making the romantic comedy genre popular and also credible).

To see your book come to life on the big screen must be amazing. I’m lucky in that I’m very visual so when I write a book my characters pretty much act out every scene in my mind’s eye so I’ve already seen the film version of all of my books – I just hope you get to see them one day too.

19 comments:

  1. Oh. This sounds delightful and such a wonderful cover too. It would be the perfect spring read for me:)

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  2. I love this kind of story! Thanks for sharing.

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  3. Oh, sounds so sweet and delightful. Awesome.

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  4. Sounds like a sweet read . Thanks for the review !

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  5. Thanks everyone. Really hope you enjoy Willow Cottage x

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  6. Ohh, as you probably already know, I love reading small town stories. I had no idea there were three novellas in this series, I was familiar only with Christmas one.

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    1. There's one for each season and it's best to start with the first one. It's a great series and I can't wait to read the last part.

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  7. I do love small time stories and this sounds like my kind of book. Thanks you for your review. I've never read Bella Osborne before but I definitely will start.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

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  8. I do love small time stories and this sounds like my kind of book. Thanks you for your review. I've never read Bella Osborne before but I definitely will start.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

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  9. Hi really enjoy Bella Osbone books and this sounds like another great series. It's on my wish list xxx

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  10. The covers for these books are so cute. They sound really good, too.

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  11. I have a large weeping willow in my garden and wanted to call the house 'willow house'

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  12. I love reading small town stories. I want to enjoy this story. Will buy this book for sure :)

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  13. The Willow Cottage book covers are beautiful! I loved reading the excerpts for the three books that are out. This series sounds wonderful & one that is going on my must be read list. Hopefully Book 4 in the series isn't far behind these! :) Thanks for sharing!

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  14. I love that the whole series is presented at once. I don't often read sequels because by the time they have been published I have forgotten why I was so excited about the first one.

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  15. Oh my gosh, imagine working with Richard Curtis and seeing your characters come to life!

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