Saturday, January 14, 2023

BLOG TOUR - Summerhayes House


The Girl from Summerhayes
Author:  Merryn Allingham 
Series:   Summerhayes House #1
Publisher:  Bookouture 
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Format:  Kindle ARC 
No. of Pages:   385
Date of Publication:   January 11, 2023
My Rating:   4 Stars 


1914, England. Will her decision unite her family or tear them apart?

Surrounded by beautiful gardens in the glorious Sussex countryside, 
Summerhayes House seems like a true hidden paradise, but behind its polished floors and perfect green lawns is a family divided. The Summer family’s beloved home is under threat, and nineteen-year-old Elizabeth Summer finds herself caught in the heart of the crisis.

Elizabeth’s father believes his daughter marrying well will save Summerhayes. But Elizabeth is distraught at the stifling future ahead of her. A chance meeting with green-eyed 
Aiden Kellaway, the handsome architect’s apprentice working on the estate’s prized gardens, changes everything. For the first time, Elizabeth pictures an entirely different life, and – despite her father’s wishes – she is determined to take hold of it.

But war is brewing in Europe, and when its long shadow touches Summerhayes, Elizabeth realises her rebellion will come at a price. Desperately torn between family loyalty, society’s expectations and the bright chance at happiness she glimpsed in Aiden’s arms, she is forced to make an impossible choice.

As Elizabeth’s future – and her family’s – hangs in the balance, she must ask herself,
 is the price worth paying? And can she live with the consequences?

An unforgettable, totally gripping and heart-wrenching historical family saga. Fans of Tracy Rees, Kate Morton and Elizabeth Jane Howard will be utterly swept away by The Girl from Summerhayes.

Previously published as 
The Buttonmaker’s Daughter.

The Girl from Summerhayes:
The Secrets of Summerhayes:

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It is 1914 England and Elizabeth Summer’s father is bound and determined to create a beautiful summer garden at their home in Summerhayes. Elizabeth is 19 years old and her father wants her to marry and to marry well. Elizabeth can’t see herself marrying the man that her father thinks is perfect for her, in part because he is old enough to be her father. More than that Elizabeth is drawn to the architect working on the garden, Aiden Kellaway. Because he is a tradesmen and not of the peerage, any romance between Elizabeth and Aiden is very well doomed. 

War is on the horizon in Europe and even with the darkness that is brewing, Elizabeth finds herself more and more drawn to Aiden. Will she choose a future that will make her happy or will she do what is best for her family? Also, what effect will the war have on Aiden and others in this wonderful story? 

This first book in the Summerhayes series was very touching, especially when a girl who deserved all the best might’ve been forced to accept something that would make her very unhappy. There is conflict within the family, not with just Elizabeth and her perspective romance, but her father Joshua is dealing with friction when it comes to his brother-in-law Henry. This could possibly have a devastating effect on the beautiful project that Elizabeth’s father has set out for the estate. 

Another touching feature to this book is that Elizabeth’s brother William is quite unwell, and his trials are there for the reader as well. More than that, William‘s best friend Oliver is spending the summer with the family and there are things about William that are really moving in the story. This story is a re-release of The Buttonmaker’s Daughter and I am quite pleased that I got the opportunity to read and review this often heartbreaking book. I also read the next book in the series, and it was equally enjoyable, The Secret of Summerhayes. 

Many thanks to Bookouture and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.

The Secrets of Summerhayes
Author:  Merryn Allingham 
Series:   Summerhayes House #2
Publisher:  Bookouture 
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Format:  Kindle ARC 
No. of Pages:   369
Date of Publication:   January 11, 2023
My Rating:   5 Stars  


1944, England. A chance meeting with a soldier unravels a long-buried family mystery…

England is in the devastating grip of World War Two, and 
Bethany Merston’s life changes in an instant when bombs screech down over London. Heartbroken, she leaves the shattered ruins of her home behind. In the Sussex countryside, she takes a job as companion to elderly Alice Summer, mistress of the crumbling and over-grown Summerhayes House.

Its once-pristine grounds are now home to a regiment of soldiers preparing for an invasion across the channel. But Bethany’s wartime experiences mean she can find beauty in broken things, and she is captured by the estate’s magic. When she meets handsome, blue-eyed 
Lieutenant Jos Kerrigan in the gardens one morning, it is clear he has also been captivated by Summerhayes. As their friendship grows, Bethany realises that it’s not just the house she’s falling for…

But something is stirring beneath the surface at Summerhayes… When Bethany discovers that Alice is receiving anonymous letters that have opened up old family wounds, she is determined to find out who is responsible. Convinced that Summerhayes itself holds the key to the mystery, Bethany and Jos explore the grand house together.

The answers lie in a long-forgotten painting in the dusty attic, unravelling the mysteries of the Summer family. And as the truth about Alice’s past comes to light, it has the power to change Bethany’s future.

Will Bethany and Jos’s blossoming love survive the war, or will the secrets of Summerhayes tear them apart?

A totally heartbreaking and gripping wartime family saga, fans of Tracy Rees, Kate Morton and Elizabeth Jane Howard will have their hearts stolen by The Secrets of Summerhayes.

Previously published as 
The Secret of Summerhayes.

Bethany Merston’s life has gone through upheaval so so takes a job working as a companion for Alice Summers. This allows her to leave London and to spend time in the Sussex countryside. If weed is read the first book in this Summerhayes series, The Girl From Summerhayes, then they just might be familiar with Alice as is Elizabeth’s mother, who was the primary protagonist in the first book of the series. And Elizabeth’s story we learned that Alice was not a happy wife, but took her duties towards her family very seriously nonetheless. 

This second book takes place a few decades later and it is now 1944 England. Alice has started to experience many trials which is why she needed a companion to assist her. The story goes back and helps readers to understand what Alice’s life was before she got married to her husband Joshua and became the mother to Elizabeth and William. At the end of the first book, Elizabeth ran away from the family and married the man of her dreams. Sadly, the family never heard from Elizabeth again but now all these years later, Alice is sure she will see Elizabeth once again. 

This story takes on a different edge than the first one because in this one there’s a bit of suspense, especially with the mystery surrounding Elizabeth and Alice’s hopes of ever seeing her again. There is also a slow reveal of secrets that could change everything. Lastly, there is a nice slow brewing romance between Bethany and Jos Kerrigan, a Canadian officer who ended up having a lot in common with Bethany. In fact, one of those very things in common was their love of reading and this helped the story as it often alluded to Daphne Du Maurier‘s book Rebecca.

Although quite saddened for the losses that Alice experienced in her life and her sadness for not seeing her daughter again, the story was very touching despite the outbreak of yet another war, in this case World War II. Alice’s once beautiful home has been taken over by soldiers, and she is rather confined in a home that now has fairly well fallen apart. 

Bethany is a remarkable character despite the sadness that she experienced in her life and what led her to working for Alice. I love how well she took care of Alice and others in the household, especially as the story showed how seriously people were affected by the rations during the war. That is something I still have a hard time understanding, but I love that Merryn Allingham included that in this book. 

I do recommend reading these books in tandem, as there is a lot of background with Alice and her family in the first book of the series and this second book does a good job of continuing what happens to the Summers family as well as other characters, like in this case Bethany. As much as I loved the first book, this second book was even more enjoyable especially as later in the story things were slowly revealed as the book progressed. Merryn Allingham has written a beautiful duology, one with a nice mix of subjects while creating a beautiful story for her readers.

Many thanks to Bookouture and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.

Please enjoy my YouTube video review - 


Merryn taught university literature for many years, and it took a while to pluck up the courage to begin writing herself. Bringing the past to life is a passion and her historical fiction includes Regency romances, wartime sagas and timeslip novels, all of which have a mystery at their heart. As the books have grown darker, it was only a matter of time before she plunged into crime with a cosy crime series set in rural Sussex against the fascinating backdrop of the 1950s.

Merryn lives in a beautiful old town in Sussex with her husband and one last cat, Bluebell. When she’s not writing, she tries to keep fit with adult ballet classes and plenty of walking.

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