Hello my lovelies, I am so excited to be sharing my review of The Ghost Garden with you all, but I must warn you that this will no doubt end in me babbling and gushing about just how incredible this book is. This book is way too good to be true, but don’t take my word for it crab a cuppa and a biscuit or two and let me tell you a wee bit about this utterly gorgeous book…
Within the tangled vines of a forgotten garden, can a blossoming new love overcome an ancient evil that threatens both the living and the dead?
After losing her brother in the trenches of the Great War, Cecily James is a prisoner of Whitmore Hall, the respected but remote boys’ school where her brutish husband reigns as headmaster. With its forsaken walled garden, a hauntingly tragic past, and midnight footsteps heard from an unoccupied clocktower, Whitmore Hall is a place where the dead are rumored to walk.
Whitmore Hall is a place filled with mysteries and as a ghost garden emerges from the sun-bleached soil, long-buried secrets cry out to be told.
When new teacher Raf de Chastelaine blunders into an impromptu seance, Cecily finds an unlikely and eccentric ally. In a world of discipline and respectability, barefoot Raf is unlike any teacher Cecily has ever met. With his tales of the Carpathian mountains and a love of midnight gardening, he shakes Whitmore Hall to its foundations. Could there be more to Raf than meets the eye? And as he and Cecily realise that their feelings run deeper than friendship, dare they dream of a world beyond Whitmore Hall?
As Cecily and Raf team up to unite long-dead lovers and do battle with an ancient evil that has long haunted Whitmore Hall, Cecily finds her chance of happiness threatened by her tyrannical husband. But is the controlling headmaster acting of his own free will, or is he the puppet of a malevolent power from beyond the grave?
My, oh my! There is no other word for this book, but stunning! The words within are as beautiful as the eye-catching cover. I have so been looking forward to reading this one, as soon as I heard that Catherine and Eleanor were writing a new series with a paranormal twist I knew that I wanted – no, needed – to read it and I can say with out a doubt that this did not disappoint, this could be their best work to date. Which feels a little traitorous to say, as I am a huge fan of their Captivating Captains series, especially the first; The Captain and the Cavalry Trooper, which spoke to me in ways no other story has. But, there really is something very special about The Ghost Garden, it has a real mesmerizing quality about it that really draws the reader in and like the thorny ghostly garden in the story, it doesn’t want to let you go.
Set after WW1, in a remote all boys boarding school; Whitmore Hall is everything what you would think of as a boarding school. On the surface this is a quiet, respectable and honourable place where all the future leaders are taught to be the men they are destined to be. It is run by a man who is just like the school; respectable to the core, but like it’s headmaster the school has many secrets just waiting to be revealed. When things go bump in the night, a ghostly appearance of a weeping woman there appears to be more going on at Whitmore Hall then just educating young minds.
After the death of her brother during the war, Cecily James is alone and trapped in an abusive marriage, stuck with a man who is full of nothing but malice and hate. A man who to world is nothing but a respectable headteacher, but it’s behind close doors that this brute really shows his true colours and as time passes he become more and more vile by the day, leaving Cecily literally fearing for her life. That is until the arrival of the Halls newest Latin teacher; uniquely, charming and ruggedly handsome Rafeal de Chastelaine a man who ‘sees’ Cecily as no-one has ever has seen her before. Raf is just what the Hall – and Cecily – needs, with his love of gardening and biscuits and his ever-present luminous smile, he sets out to not only restore the garden but help Cecily find out the truth of what is going on at Whitmore Hall.
Soon enough Raf and Cecily realise that there is far more than friendship between them and Cecily starts to dream of happiness and a future she would never thought to be able to have. That is if she and Raf can find out what is going on at the hall.
I love the way Cecily is written, she is such a quiet woman she watches more than she contributes – mostly out of fear, I believe – she could have been a meek little mouse, but she isn’t she just doesn’t know how to escape and once you begin to get to know her you see she is far more than the bullied abused woman she appears to be. She is smart, she is liked – even though she has been told she isn’t – she has inner strength that she does keep locked away, a strength that really starts showing itself once she has marvellous Raf supporting her. The things she has to go through is heart-breaking as well as at times difficult reading, but it is written with absolute care and sensitivity.
What I really love about this is that Cecily and Raf are genuine friends first and foremost, which I have always thought that if the characters are friends then they make a great couple. Yes, there is a beautiful romance that forms between Raf and Cecily, and yes the reader can see that there is something special going to happen between them. But, because of everything going on in Cecily’s life, they do start as friends, at a time when Cecily needs one, in walks Raf. They are perfect together! Raf never rushes her, he is patient, kind and gentle with her – which is Raf in a nutshell. He is such an extraordinary man, he isn’t complicated at all, there is something mysterious about him, but he isn’t complex and the other thing he is; is sexy as sin! Sigh! Who wouldn’t fall in love with a rough around the edges, rugged, tattooed, blue-eyed god who has a thing about never wearing shoes – or shirts, for that matter. My goodness how I love thee, let me count the ways! There really aren’t enough heart eyed emoji’s to fully say how much I adore this guy. I may just have to swoon instead!
This is so different to what we faithful readers have come to expect from Catherine and Eleanor, but in a completely good way. I love how the story is told through Cecily’s point of view, it really gives the reader the chance to get to know this fine, courageous women for who she is. And yes, it does give us all the chance to have long looks at dishevelled Raf; eating chocolate and biscuits, his gloriously tattooed back and pert bottom, plus become utterly lost in those blue, blue eyes – honestly, I really do sound perverse, don’t I?
My word, the ending it’s not only satisfying for the reader it’s just perfect for both Raf and especially Cecily. I did have a choked up, teary eyed moment and even now as I write this I am getting a little misty eyed as I remember a certain scene. It is so beautiful!
The Ghost Garden is a page-tuner for sure, it will keep you glued from the first moment. It’s such a delightful, charming and thrilling book. The writing is exceptionally great – you never know who is writing what as the words just flow flawlessly from one scene to the next. The plot is mesmerizing and full of intrigue with a paranormal undertone and full of twists that will keep you guessing as to what’s around the corner. It has the best character’s I have met, each one from the two leads to the secondary characters are brilliantly written. I am in absolute love with this book, Raf and Cecily have completely stolen my heart, easily the best book of my year!
I cannot wait for more of the glorious The de Chastelaine Chronicles, judging by this beauty this series is going to be absolutely amazing and I cannot wait and I cannot recommend this enough.
This was an Arc via the authors in exchange for an honest review, thank you so much Catherine and Eleanor.