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  • Hannah Fielding - Romance Novelist

From the blurb:

‘If I’m being totally honest I had fantasized about Phil dying.’

When Poppy Shilling’s bike-besotted, Lycra-clad husband is killed in a freak accident, she can’t help feeling a guilty sense of relief. For at long last she’s released from a controlling and loveless marriage.

Throwing herself wholeheartedly into village life, she’s determined to start over. And sure enough, everyone from Luke the sexy church organist to Bob the resident oddball, is taking note. Yet the one man Poppy can’t take her eyes off seems tantalizingly out of reach – why won’t he let go of his glamorous ex-wife?

But just as she’s ready to dip her toes in the water, the discovery of a dark secret about her late husband shatters Poppy’s confidence. Does she really have the courage to risk her heart again? Because Poppy wants a lot more than just a rural affair . . .

My favourite thing about writer Catherine Alliott is the strong author voice that is entirely consistent across her books. When I pick up a Catherine Alliott, I know to expect lively, realistic romance with a hint of humour, and A Rural Affair does not disappoint.

I read the book over several days, and found myself looking forward to picking it back up and reading on. There’s a strong sense of setting – a rural English village – and a great cast of characters who reminded me a little of the cast of The Vicar of Dibley. The story extends beyond the main character, Poppy, and her efforts to come to terms with widowhood and some nasty truths about her former husband, and follows three other women who are also encountering troubles in love: one has been left by her husband – can she forgive his affair?; another is a widow whose never found a man to measure up to the memory of her lost love; and the other is the harrassed best friend trying to keep her marriage on the straight and narrow and bring up three children. Together, the four stories intertwine to create an interesting and lively book.

I very much like the author’s writing style, which is well-crafted and tightly constructed, but for me it’s both the poignant and the laugh-out-loud moments of this book that stand out, from Poppy’s depression as she discovers a web of deception, to her escapades on an unruly horse at the local hunt and following one too many schnapps at a grand party.

The ending is satisfying – it is just what you want from a romance book. I’d have loved an epilogue to take the romance a step further, but as it stands, it’s a great, upbeat ending.

All in all, a wonderful read for touching sentiment, super laughs and likeable characters – great escapism for a chilly autumnal day.

A Rural Affair is available now from Amazon; click on the book cover below to visit the store.

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