Following a scandal at her high-flying PR agency, twenty-six-year-old Maddie flees London to help promote what she thinks is going to be a luxurious holiday retreat in the countryside. Everything is riding on her making a success of this new job…
Yet when she arrives, Maddie is horrified to find a rundown old farm in a terrible state. The brooding and secretive owner, Seth, spent all his money on leasing the land when he fell in love with the beautiful, dishevelled farm cottages and the very romantic story behind them.
When Maddie discovers an old oil painting by the original owner’s wife, she unlocks the secret of the farm’s history and quickly realises she must start getting her hands dirty if this very special place is going to have any chance of survival. As she and Seth begin working together, the stunning view from the top of the hill is not the only thing that’s leaving her breathless…
After weeks of hard work the dream looks like it might become a reality, until a secret from Maddie’s past threatens to snatch it all away again. Can Maddie find a way to save the business and herself? Will she finally find a place to keep her heart within the crumbling walls of the little cottage on the hill?
This is the first book by Emma Davies that I’ve read, and I must say I thoroughly enjoyed it. Emma manages to create a beautiful setting for her novel, with such vivid descriptions that you feel as if you’re actually there with her characters. Joy’s Acre comes to life under the deft touch of the author, and I totally fell in love with the farm, complete with cottages, farmhouse and gardens.
I quickly became absorbed in the story, intrigued by Maddie and what, exactly, someone like her was doing in a place like that. I wondered how she would fit in, how her ideas could ever be reconciled with those of the owner of Joy’s Acre, Seth. It seemed that, from their very first meeting, they were destined to disagree, to clash swords over the future of the farm. I needn’t have wondered, because Emma Davies handles the storyline perfectly, pacing it beautifully and carefully edging Seth and Maddie towards common ground, an understanding of each other’s viewpoint, and onto so much more.
The characters were appealing – even if Seth did come across as pretty unforgiving and unapproachable at first. As layers of his personality were revealed, bit by bit, I grew to like him very much. I may even have developed a bit of a crush on him, actually.
Every single character in the book is interesting and likeable – with the possible exception of Agatha, although even she has her reasons for her behaviour. I was intrigued by Tom the thatcher. He clearly has issues and I’m wondering what the author has in store for him. Maddie is a likeable heroine, and Trixie and Clara are the sort of women you’d want to be friends with. The whole set-up at the farm, with the five adults working together to create something absolutely magical, was most enjoyable and made for a delightful read.
I’m happy to see that there is a forthcoming sequel to this novel, and I’ve already pre-ordered it, so that says a lot.
Overall, it’s definitely a winner, and I’m happy to give it five stars.
You can buy The Little Cottage on the Hill here.