DESCRIPTION:‘This may just have saved my life…’ The hurried scribble in the dusty church visitors’ book catches Gwen’s eye. Just like that, she is drawn into a mystery at the heart of the pretty village of Hopley, but nothing is what is seems…
When tragedy strikes, twenty-six-year-old Gwen Stanley finds herself suddenly jobless and heartbroken. With nowhere to turn, she retreats to Hopley, a crumbling little village deep in the heart of the English countryside. Wandering the winding lanes and daydreaming about what could have been, Gwen feels lost for the first time in her life.
Until one day she pushes through the creaking doors of a tiny stone church at the edge of the village, empty and forgotten by nearly everyone. There she stumbles on a book full of local secrets and is instantly drawn into the mystery of who could have left them there, and why.
When she’s unexpectedly joined by handsome local artist Jarvis, Gwen is caught off-guard. He seems just as fascinated by what’s in the book as she is… but why? Can she trust Jarvis’s motives really are what he says they are? And are the butterfly flutters she feels whenever they’re together because she’s one step closer to learning the book’s secrets… or might the little village church actually hold the key to healing Gwen’s poor, trampled heart?
An utterly unputdownable story – pure joy from the first page to the last. Perfect for fans of Jenny Colgan, Lucy Diamond and Heidi Swain, and anybody longing for the ultimate feel-good escapist read!
Author: Tracy Rees
Series: Hopley Village #1
Genre: Women's Fiction
Format: Kindle ARC
No. of Pages: 285
Date of Publication: May 7, 2021
My Rating: 5 Stars
St. Domneva may be a small church in Hopley Village, but it is stooped in history and memories. However, the church just might have to close its doors. Will a fundraiser by means of a visitor's book from a long time ago be the answer the little church needs to recover?
Vicar Dave has the idea, but will the idea be effective, and who indeed can do the hard work of contacting countless people in order to ask for donations? Two people step up, albeit reluctantly - Gwen and Jarvis. They are each connected to the church for very different reasons. They both know that the roof needs replacing on the church and that the funds required will be very difficult to come by.
Gwen and Jarvis each have a story - both lost but now with a common goal. They devise a plan of action with the visitor's book and begin the long process of contacting people who have signed the visitor's books. In Gwen's case she has lost her parents and her aunt has taken her in. However, their relationship is challenged and thus Gwen is quite unhappy. With Jarvis, his education in art took a wrong turn and he has found solace in the bottle. Will Gwen and Jarvis be able to put aside their problems long enough to present a united force?
What an endearing story! I love how, despite their difficulties, both Gwen and Jarvis were able to draw upon their strengths in order to work together to save the church. Jarvis has a more of a bit of an uphill battle. Not only must he put the drink behind, he is trapped in the dream of finding a woman he met previously at the church. Their selflessness shines through on the journey for the church, all while interesting characters and stories cross their paths.
I hadn't read anything by Tracy Rees before now but I am glad to say that I was more than enamored with this story. I actually could not put the book down as I was very drawn to the drama in their lives, all while enjoying the pair forging a strong friendship even though at first they seemed like polar opposites.
Not only did I love the story and the characters - and that includes Vicar Dave - but I really loved the village. The ending was a pure delight. How exciting to know that this is the first book in a new series! I cannot wait to see what future stories will be developed as well as other characters that are to come.
Many thanks to Bookouture and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.
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