Hello, sunshines, I have the huge pleasure to be today’s stop on this wonderful blog tour for; Country Lovers by Fiona Walker. Not only will I be sharing my review of this book, but I have an exclusive excerpt for you which I know you will all adore, so settle back, grab a cuppa and enjoy.
They say you should never go back, but glamorous Ronnie Percy did just that, to the home she ran away from with her lover.
But not everyone is finding it easy to forgive and forget.
Daughter Pax, fighting for custody of her small son as her own marriage disintegrates, is furious to have to spend New Year’s Eve waiting for some stranger her mother has invited to help run the family stud farm.
Even more annoyed is the staunchly loyal stud head groom, Lester. Does Ronnie think he’s lost his touch with the horses? And anyway, who is this so-called Horsemaker, Luca O’Brien? Why does he seem to be running away from something? And what is the true story of his relationship with grey stallion Beck, once destined for the Olympics, now broken and unrideable, screaming his anger from the Compton Magna stables.
Passionate, sexy, gripping, laced with her trademark wisdom and humour, this is bestselling Fiona Walker at her dazzling best.
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Having worked off more Christmas pounds cantering around the set-aside field beside the cricket pitch, Bridge felt her spirits rallying as the Bags started discussing New Year’s Resolutions.
‘Being a feck-off high flyer again by Easter,’ she told them.
‘Mine’s to meet my deadline for once,’ Petra vowed.
‘I want a new SMC,’ sighed Mo. ‘Jed Turner’s lost his sparkle since the conviction.’
The SMC – or Safe Married Crush – was a Saddle Bag rite of passage, the mainstay of the frustrated Cotswold wife, a fairy-tale fantasy about somebody out of reach, conveniently close to home.
‘Our local member has lost his too,’ muttered Gill whose comedy crush on the Fosse Vale MP – which all the Bags knew was a smokescreen for her far more heartfelt crush on local weekending theatre director, Kit Donne – had been flushed out further by inappropriate behaviour rumours on social media involving a Business Enterprise drinks party, an Arab strap and a junior secretary called Justin.
‘Let’s all nominate new ones!’ Petra’s eyes lit up.
‘Bagsy me the hunky husband from Well Cottage.’ Bridge, more competitive than carnal, laid her claim before Petra could. She’d never really got the point of the SMC, but she enjoyed beating the others to a new object of desire.
‘Say who?’ Mo loved fresh blood.
Bridge exchanged a glance with Petra, WhatsApp emojis already hot-swapped on the subject. ‘They’re renting the holiday let while Aleš builds them a house on the Broadbourne Road.’
‘Not that modern monstrosity we all objected to?’ Gill looked disapproving. ‘Replacing old Mr Noakes’s bungalow?’
‘It’s carbon-neutral, stripped-back modern living,’ Bridge insisted. The award-winning eco architect, who granted Aleš a lot of tenders, helped pay their mortgage, even if his houses all looked like shoeboxes.
‘Bet they’re bloody vegans,’ Mo shuddered.
‘Excellent SMC choice, Bridge,’ Petra clicked approvingly. ‘Think young Mel Gibson, ladies.’
‘Ew!’ Bridge recoiled. ‘Put me off him, why don’t you?’
‘Young. Mad Max era but without the mullet. Heartbreakingly sexy eyes. Builds bespoke aircraft.’
‘How d’you know that?’ she asked jealously.
‘We met them at Rowles’s drinks party.’
Bridge scowled. Petra somehow always managed to be Prima Bag: hers was the biggest house and family (albeit with a barely-there marriage); she was a social butterfly who walked dogs with aristocratic stud owner, Ronnie Percy, and flirted with the local farming heartthrob (even if Petra wanted to sack Bay Austen as her SMC, he remained the sexiest man in the village); she was excitingly careered up (even if she grumbled that her books were no longer stocked in Tesco), and she looked like Nigella, albeit in her curvier days. Now she’d staked out the Well Cottage hunk.
This is the first I have read by Fiona Walker and I really enjoyed it, I can’t say I completely loved it but I did enjoy it, I don’t know if that is to do with the pacing of the story or the fact that I hadn’t read the first book in the series – maybe I have been missing out on something by not reading the previous? But as much as I liked the overall story, it was a little hit and miss with me. But, that will not deter me from reading more of Fiona Walker’s work, I really loved the humour and the twists that ran throughout the story, which were really cleverly done.
This actually reminded me of the brilliant The Horse Whisperer; both book and film, which is one my all-time favourites, Luca did remind me of the ‘Horse Whisper’ his gift for being able to understand and talk to horses, to be able to help them really made me love him and his secretive side made me fascinated with him.
Years before, Ronnie Percy ran away from home to be with her then-lover, leaving behind distraught and angry children, now she is back she wants to build some bridges and try to make amends for what she did and to try and rebuild her family business. I actually had real difficulty in liking Ronnie. When Ronnie returns home, she finds that to make amends will a lot harder then she thought, as it’s not just her children who are having difficulties with her return but also the head groom too, which is a good thing as Ronnie has hired notoriously brilliant horseman and playboy; Irishman Luca O’Brian who brigs far more then cheekiness to her home, as he has secrets of his own he is hiding something, but that’s OK as he looks good and he is truly gifted with horses.
I am actually in two frames of minds about this, on one hand, I loved the overall story, it’s sweet, engaging and a really enjoyable read, there were aspects of it that I loved; Luca being one of them – I am a sucker for a secretive, twinkly-eyed handsome Irishman, especially one who has a passion for animals, in this case, horses – and I enjoyed uncovering the secrets and discovering the surprises and yet I actually struggled with this book because I did find it a little slow for my liking. Believe me, that is nothing at all to do with the authors clever writing, as I found Ms Walker’s writing to be engaging and fun, I just had issues with the actual pacing of the story. Sorry!
Overall an engaging and fun story, which is full of good humour, sadness and passion.
About the Author
Fiona Walker is the author of eighteen novels, from tales of flat-shares and clubbing in nineties London to today’s romping, rural romances set amid shires, spires and stiles. In a career spanning over two decades, she’s grown up alongside her readers, never losing her wickedly well-observed take on life, lust and the British in love. She lives in Warwickshire, sharing a slice of Shakespeare Country with her partner, their two daughters and a menagerie of animals. fionawalker.com @fionawalkeruk facebook.com/fiona.walker.16568
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