14 Extra-Special Books Celebrating 6 Years of Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT: Part 1

RBRT Gold:

My Review Team’s Favourite Books

#RBRT Review Team

How time flies – Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team has now been up and running for six years!  During that time we have done our best to spread the word about novels, novellas, short stories and non-fiction from self-published authors and independent publishers – to showcase talent found outside the mainstream publishing world.

Each month we are inundated with review requests from authors and publishers alike.  Every book that I accept is passed on to my team of twenty readers, which is made up of book bloggers, writers, editors, creative writing tutors and people who just love reading.  Most gain just one or two reviews, but once in a while a gem comes along that piques the interest of several team members, and receives highly favourable reviews across the board.

Welcome to Part One of #RBRT Gold: seven extra-special books that were greatly enjoyed by three or more team members.

Under the title of each book, you can read its team reviews, which include Amazon links.  Enjoy!

Fred’s Funeral by Sandy Day

WW1 Historical Fiction novella

Fred's Funeral by [Sandy Day]

Click the picture to see the book on Goodreads

 Excerpt from blurb:A Novella Based on True Events

His family said he was shell-shocked.

The asylum’s doctors disagreed.

It’s 1986 and Fred Sadler has just died of old age. It’s seventy years since he marched off to the war in France, young and raring to go. He put everything on the line for his country and family, but when he came home, they rejected him.

This is why Fred can’t rest in peace.

Reviewed by:

Olga Miret

Terry Tyler

Judith Barrow

Robbie Cheadle

Noelle Granger

 

The Silent Kookaburra by Liza Perrat

Dark Family Drama

The Silent Kookaburra: Australian Psychological Suspense by [Liza Perrat]

Click the picture to see the book on Goodreads

 

Excerpt from blurb:

All eleven-year-old Tanya Randall wants is a happy family. But Mum does nothing besides housework, Dad’s always down the pub and Nanna Purvis moans at everyone except her dog. Then Shelley arrives –– the miracle baby.Tanya’s life gets even better when she meets an uncle she didn’t know she had.

Then one blistering summer day tragedy strikes, and the surrounding mystery and suspicion tear apart this fragile family web. Embracing the social changes of 1970s Australia, against a backdrop of native fauna and flora, The Silent Kookaburra is a haunting exploration of the blessings, curses and tyranny of memory.

Reviewed by:

Alison Williams

E.L. Lindley

Terry Tyler

Jenny Reeve

Olga Miret

 

The Women Of Heachley Hall by Rachel Walkley

Romantic mystery

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Click the picture to see the book on Goodreads

 

Excerpt from blurb:

Miriam has one year to uncover Heachley Hall’s unimaginable past and a secret that only women can discover.

The life of a freelance illustrator will never rake in the millions so when twenty-eight year old Miriam discovers she’s the sole surviving heir to her great-aunt’s fortune, she can’t believe her luck. She dreams of selling her poky city flat and buying a studio.

But great fortune comes with an unbreakable contract. To earn her inheritance, Miriam must live a year and a day in the decaying Heachley Hall.

Reviewed by: 

Olga Miret

Liz Lloyd

Jenny Reeve

Noelle Granger

 

That Summer At The Seahorse Hotel by Adrienne Vaughan

Romantic Suspense

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Click the picture to see the book on Goodreads

 

Excerpt from blurb:

Mia Flanagan has never been told who her father is and aged ten, stopped asking. Haunted by this, she remains a dutiful daughter who would never do anything to bring scandal or shame on her beautiful and famously single mother. So when Archie Fitzgerald, one of Hollywood’s favourite actors, decides to leave Mia his Irish estate she asks herself – is he her father after all?

That Summer at the Seahorse Hotel is a tale of passion, jealousy and betrayal – and the ghost of a secret love that binds this colourful cast yet still threatens, after all these years, to tear each of them apart.

Reviewed by: 

Cathy Ryan

Judith Barrow

Chris Philippou

Georgia Rose

 

La Petite Boulain by Gemma Lawrence

Tudor Historical fiction

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Click the picture to see the book on Goodreads

 

Excerpt from blurb:

May 1536, London… a fallen queen sits waiting in the Tower of London, condemned to death by her husband. As Death looms before her, Anne Boleyn, second queen of Henry VIII looks back on her life…from the very beginning.

Daughter of a courtier, servant to queens… she rose higher than any thought possible, and fell lower than any could imagine.

Following the path of the young Mistress Boleyn, or La Petite Boulain, through the events of the first years of the reign of Henry VIII, to the glittering courts of Burgundy and France, Book One of “Above All Others; The Lady Anne” tracks the life of the young Lady Anne, showing how she became the scintillating woman who eventually, would capture the heart of a king.

Reviewed by:

Olga Miret

Noelle Granger

Cathy Ryan

 

Ghost Variations by Jessica Duchen

Historical mystery

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Click the picture to see the book on Goodreads

Excerpt from blurb:

The strangest detective story in the history of music – inspired by a true incident. A world spiralling towards war. A composer descending into madness. And a devoted woman struggling to keep her faith in art and love against all the odds. 1933. Dabbling in the fashionable “Glass Game” – a Ouija board – the famous Hungarian violinist Jelly d’Aranyi, one-time muse to composers such as Bartok, Ravel and Elgar, encounters a startling dilemma. A message arrives ostensibly from the spirit of the composer Robert Schumann, begging her to find and perform his long-suppressed violin concerto. She tries to ignore it, wanting to concentrate instead on charity concerts. But against the background of the 1930s depression in London and the rise of the Nazis in Germany, a struggle ensues as the “spirit messengers” do not want her to forget.

Reviewed by:

Olga Miret

Alison Williams

Liz lloyd

Cathy Ryan

 

Season Of Second Chances by Aimee Alexander

Contemporary family saga

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Click the picture to see the book on Goodreads

 

Excerpt from blurb:

When leaving is just the beginning… The long-awaited novel of family, love and learning to be kind to yourself by award-winning, bestselling Irish author, Aimee Alexander.

Grace Sullivan flees Dublin with her two teenage children, returning to the sleepy West Cork village where she grew up. No one in Killrowan knows what Grace is running from – or even that she’s running. She’d like to keep it that way.

Season of Second Chances is Grace’s story. It’s also the story of a community that chooses the title “Young Doctor Sullivan” for her before she even arrives. It’s the story of Des who served the villagers all his life and now feels a failure for developing Parkinson’s disease. And it’s the story of struggling teens, an intimidating receptionist, a handsome American novelist escaping his past, and a dog called Benji who needs a fresh start of his own.

Reviewed by:

Sandra Firth

Liz Lloyd

Olga Miret

Judith Barrow

 

For a book review team, there is little more satisfying than a reader discovering a new favourite book through a review you’ve written – I hope one or more of these appeals to you.  If not, look out for Part 2, tomorrow, in which we go a little darker; I have a nautical thriller for you, a dystopian scifi novella, murder and mystery!

 

Rosie’s #Bookreview of Irish Family Tale SEASON OF SECOND CHANCES by @aimeealexbooks #TuesdayBookBlog

Season of Second ChancesSeason of Second Chances by Aimee Alexander

5 stars

Season Of Second Chances is contemporary Irish fiction which deals with the sensitive issue of domestic abuse.

Grace has left her husband and has returned to her home town on the west coast of Ireland with her two children. Here she hopes that they will embrace this quiet life compared to their city one in Dublin.  However, Grace finds this to be something of a ‘big ask’ as far as her teenagers are concerned, especially as it involves moving them mid-way through the school year.

She will also start afresh as a community doctor, replacing her father after his retirement due to the onset of Parkinson’s Disease. In this small-town environment, Grace tries hard to avoid the gossips and to keep her past life a secret, but, having been away for many years, she discovers that she is treated with caution; an outsider. Each day that she and her family stay is another positive step towards healing from the abuse they suffered.

An easy five star read for me, this had all the makings of a one of my top books for the year. There’s something about a well-written tale set in rural Ireland that gets me every time. From the setting to the characters, it was so easy to lose myself in this story. The themes of domestic abuse and Parkinson’s disease were written with a realistic but sensitive hand and brought me to tears a couple of times. Des, Grace’s father, was one of my favourite characters, with his determination to protect his family and his wily ways of connecting with people. I definitely recommend this the those who enjoy endearing characters in a charming location.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

When leaving is just the beginning… A novel of family, love, and learning to be kind to yourself by award-winning, bestselling Irish author, Aimee Alexander.

Grace Sullivan flees Dublin with her two teenage children, Jack and Holly, returning to the sleepy West Cork village where she grew up. No one in Killrowan knows what Grace is running from – or that she’s even running. She’d like to keep it that way.

Taking over from her father, Des, as the village doctor offers a real chance for Grace to begin again. But will she and the family adapt to life in a small rural community? Will the villagers accept an outsider as their GP? Will Grace live up to the doctor that her father was? And will she find the inner strength to face the past when it comes calling?

Season of Second Chances is a heart-warming story of friendship, love and finding the inner strength to face a future that may bring back the past.

Perfect for fans of Call The Midwives, The Durrells, Doc Martin and All Creatures Great and Small. The villagers of Killrowan will steal into your heart and make you want to stay with them forever.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Irish Family Drama SEASON OF SECOND CHANCES by @aimeealexbooks @denisedeegan

Today’s team review is from Sandra, she blogs here https://www.firthproof.co.uk/index.php/book-reviews

#RBRT Review Team

Sandra has been reading Season Of Second Chances by Aimee Alexander

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Season of Second Chances opens as Grace, with her children Jack and Holly, drives away from her life in Dublin towards a new start in West Cork where she grew up. Grace will take over from her recently retired father, Des, as a local GP; she will be ‘Young Doctor Sullivan’ to the locals.

At this point we have no idea what Grace is running away from, only that it must be serious to justify such extreme action. Initially, her father has no idea why they have come to Killrowan, but is happy to have them there. Since he retired, and found out he was in the early stages of Parkinson’s Disease, he has been feeling a bit pointless. Having his daughter and grandchildren there seems to give him a new lease of life.

The story is told from multiple points of view; we see the past, and the present, through the eyes of Grace, Des, Jack and Holly. This gives us a much more rounded picture of why they had to leave, and how they are getting on now. It also makes us realise that Simon, Grace’s husband, is not going to leave them alone. A sense of imminent menace pervades the narrative.

Aimee Alexander depicts small town life perfectly; the claustrophobic feeling of everyone knowing everyone else’s business, and putting their own interpretation on it. At first, the patients don’t want to see Grace as they are suspicious of her big city ways, but slowly, by persevering and doing a good job, she wins them round.

The ending is satisfying, but leaves just enough loose ends for a sequel which I understand the author is currently writing; I look forward to visiting Killrowan again very soon. I will also be looking out for other books by Aimee Alexander as this was the first one I read, but it won’t be the last.

Season of Second Chances is well written with believable characters, a great location, and humour to offset the seriousness of the underlying threat. As the full extent of the abuse is revealed, Grace finds the strength and courage for a new beginning. I loved the way she realised that she could do whatever she wanted, now free of her husband’s controlling influence – simple things like what she wore, how she styled her hair and being able to spend time with friends both old and new.

Book description

When leaving is just the beginning… A novel of family, love, and learning to be kind to yourself by award-winning, bestselling Irish author, Aimee Alexander.

Grace Sullivan flees Dublin with her two teenage children, Jack and Holly, returning to the sleepy West Cork village where she grew up. No one in Killrowan knows what Grace is running from – or that she’s even running. She’d like to keep it that way.

Taking over from her father, Des, as the village doctor offers a real chance for Grace to begin again. But will she and the family adapt to life in a small rural community? Will the villagers accept an outsider as their GP? Will Grace live up to the doctor that her father was? And will she find the inner strength to face the past when it comes calling?

Season of Second Chances is a heart-warming story of friendship, love and finding the inner strength to face a future that may bring back the past.

Perfect for fans of Call The Midwives, The Durrells, Doc Martin and All Creatures Great and Small. The villagers of Killrowan will steal into your heart and make you want to stay with them forever.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Irish Family Drama SEASON OF SECOND CHANCES by @aimeealexbooks @denisedeegan

Today’s team review is from Judith, she blogs here https://judithbarrowblog.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Judith has been reading Season Of Second Chances by Denise Deegan

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My Review:

I haven’t read anything from Aimee Alexander before but, as I love any story about the machinations and intricacies of families, when I saw Season of Second Chances on the #RBRT reading list,  I decided to choose this book. It’s described as a novel about, ‘family, love and learning to be kind to yourself…A heart-warming story of friendship, love and finding the inner strength to face a future that may bring back the past.’

In a way it’s a predictable plot. But it’s so well written I don’t think that matters too much. And with a thoroughly rounded protagonist in Grace Sullivan, it’s easy to believe in her; to start cheering for her straight away in her secret quest to escape her life with an abusive husband. She is desperate to find her roots again in the  village of Killrowan, in West Cork; where she grew up with her parents. But, having been away for years, and taking her father’s place in the GP practice following his retirement, she is initially treated with suspicion by most of his patients. So she is lucky to rediscover the support of two old friends.

In addition to the antipathy of some of the villagers she has two teenage children who have problems of their own; Jack, who utterly resents the move, and her daughter, Holly, who, though glad to have escaped from their father, is emotionally damaged. But both are protective of their mother.

I also liked the parallel plot of the change in Des, Grace’s father. Having retired and in poor health, her return with her family brings him out of his chosen isolation and gives him hope for the future.

I try not to give too much information about story-lines so I’ll leave it there.

Both the main characters and the minor supporting ones are well drawn, with dialogue that immediately identifies them and I could easily picture each one as they took their part in the story.

The settings are brilliantly described and give a good sense of place. I especially liked the sense of peace that is shown through Grace when she is by the sea. There are excellent descriptions here.

There is also a lovely, almost cameo piece, of a dog, Benji, coming into their lives.

Of necessity, in a story of domestic abuse, there are themes of cruelty, fear, lies, self-hatred and loneliness. But in Season of Second Chances, there is also hope, friendship and love. These are all well balanced throughout the book.

As I’ve said, it is a predictable plot in many ways but I loved the author’s style of writing. And, tantalisingly, there are also a couple of loose ends. These left me to suspect that there would be a sequel to Season of Second Chances.As, indee, the author states in the end notes.

I would recommend Season of Second Chances to any reader who enjoys a good story in which to escape.

Book description

When leaving is just the beginning… A novel of family, love, and learning to be kind to yourself by award-winning, bestselling Irish author, Aimee Alexander.

Grace Sullivan flees Dublin with her two teenage children, Jack and Holly, returning to the sleepy West Cork village where she grew up. No one in Killrowan knows what Grace is running from – or that she’s even running. She’d like to keep it that way.

Taking over from her father, Des, as the village doctor offers a real chance for Grace to begin again. But will she and the family adapt to life in a small rural community? Will the villagers accept an outsider as their GP? Will Grace live up to the doctor that her father was? And will she find the inner strength to face the past when it comes calling?

Season of Second Chances is a heart-warming story of friendship, love and finding the inner strength to face a future that may bring back the past.

Perfect for fans of Call The Midwives, The Durrells, Doc Martin and All Creatures Great and Small. The villagers of Killrowan will steal into your heart and make you want to stay with them forever.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Family Drama SEASON OF SECOND CHANCES by @aimeealexbooks @denisedeegan

Today’s team review is from Olga, she blogs here https://www.authortranslatorolga.com

#RBRT Review Team

Olga has been reading Season Of Second Chances by Aimiee Alexander

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This is another great find by Rosie and although I wasn’t familiar with the author (who also publishes under her real name, Denise Deegan), I’m convinced this won’t be the last time I read one of her books.

The description of the book does a good job of highlighting the main aspects of the plot: we have Grace, a woman escaping a difficult and dangerous marriage, with her teenage children, Jack and Holly, hopeful that returning back to the village where she grew up will offer them all a second chance. There awaits her father, Des, who is going through a major change in his life (he’s a recently retired family doctor suffering from early stages of Parkinson’s disease) and doesn’t know the ins and outs of Grace’s decision. Moving from Dublin to a small and sleepy village comes as a shock to Grace’s children, and she finds it difficult to confront the gossip and the expectations of having to step into her father’s shoes. But, this novel about second chances builds up slowly and we see that although not everything is ideal and there are misunderstandings and difficulties to be ironed out, Killrowan, the place and its community, is a place worth sticking with.

The novel touches on a variety of themes: abusive marriages and family relationships (and how difficult it is to walk out); starting over in a different place, picking up friendships and relationships, and rebuilding one’s life; the struggles of dealing with a chronic and debilitating illness; how much one’s self-identity can be enmeshed with our profession and our job; the differences between a big city and a small village; being a family doctor in a rural/village location; how teenagers feel when they have to move and be uprooted from school, friends…; the role animals play in helping us fit in a place and feel rooted; small community life, with hits highs and lows; and even a hint of possible romance(s). There are funny moments, plenty of heart-warming episodes, some scary and nasty shocks as well, some sad and touching stories, and even medical emergencies and action scenes thrown in. In her acknowledgements, the author highlights the process of her creation and her research and having read the novel, I can confirm that it has paid off. She manages to weave all the topics into a novel that brings the characters and the village to life, and I was delighted to read that she is thinking about a sequel. I’d love to go back to Killrowan and revisit the places and the characters that have also become my friends.

Alexander creates multi-dimensional characters easy to relate with. Grace doubts herself and is forever questioning her actions and doubting other people’s motive. Her self-confidence has suffered after years of being undermined and abused by her husband, and she feels guilty for uprooting her family, while at the same time experiencing the thrill of freedom. The novel is written in deep third person and allows us to see the action from different points of view. Grace’s point of view dominates the book, although we also see what her father, Des —another fantastic character who treads carefully and whose life suddenly regains a meaning when his daughter and grandchildren come to live with him— thinks and does, how both of Grace’s children, Jack and Holly, feel, faced with a completely different environment (Jack was the popular sporty type, while Holly had a hard time fitting in and had no friends other than her dog). We meet some fantastic characters in the community, like the scary (at least at first) receptionist at the doctor’s surgery; the butcher’s wife (a gossip with a big heart); Grace’s old pals, Alan (with some secrets of his own) and Ivonne; Benji, a wonderful dog that adopts the family; a handsome American writer; the wife of a local magnate (who reminds Grace of herself); Des’s old love; the local policeman; Grace’s partner at the doctor’s surgery and some of her patients, although not everybody is nice, don’t worry. We also get brief snippets of the events from some of the other character’s perspectives, not only the Sullivans, and that gives us access to privileged information at times. Although the different characters’ points of view aren’t separated by chapters, they are clearly differentiated, and I experienced no confusion while reading, quite the opposite. I enjoyed the opportunity to share in the bigger picture.

The writing style is fluid and flows well, without rushing us through the events, allowing us time to reflect upon events, enjoy the wonderful settings (the sea, the beach, the island, the pub…) and become acquainted with the location, the emotions, and the characters. The author knows well the area, and although Killrowan doesn’t exist (or, at least I couldn’t find it), it feels real (and some of the comments and attitudes Grace and her family experience reminded me of similar events I had witnessed in a small village I used to visit when I was younger) and it leaps from the pages. I confess to enjoying the style of the writing and feeling emotionally engaged with the story (I’d recommend having tissues handy). I’ve selected a couple of quotes to share, but as usual, readers might want to check a sample of the book to see if it suits their taste before purchasing it.

Here Grace is thinking about the family dog and how his death gave her the strength to finally leave her husband.

Benji was more than a dog. He was family. And her defender. Tiny little ball of fur rushing to the rescue. Or trying. Tiny little ball of fur that brought so much comfort to all three of them, Holly especially. Benji knew when they needed love and he gave it in spades.

Here Des is thinking about retirement.

What fool started the tradition of watches as retirement presents? Any thinking person would know that the last thing a man would want is to count all the time he now has on his hands.

Holly had just told her brother that their mother wanted to start over, and Grace realises her daughter is right.

Minutes ago, it had been to escape Simon, shake him off. But escaping Simon is still all about Simon. Grace sees that now. What she must do is start over. Because that is about Grace.

The ending is more than satisfying as well. Yes, not everything is settled and sorted in the end, but this is a book about new beginnings, and we leave the Sullivans and Killrowan to carry on merrily, getting to know each other and discovering what new changes and challenges life will bring. As I mentioned above, the author hints at a possible sequel, and I hope it comes to be.

This is a novel full of heart, friendship, a strong sense of community, and also heartache and personal growth. It is inspiring and comforting in these times when we have been obliged to live pretty enclosed lives. I agree with the TV series mentioned in the description (Call the Midwife one of my favourites), and I’m sure fans of any of those will enjoy this novel, which fits perfectly in the feel-good category, although that does not mean it hides from the most unsavoury aspects of life. There are menacing and dark moments, none too explicit, and I’d recommend it to anybody who enjoys stories with a heart, fond of Ireland and stories with an Irish background, and those who want a gentle read full of wonderful characters and a memorable community we’d all be happy to join.

Book description

When leaving is just the beginning… A novel of family, love, and learning to be kind to yourself by award-winning, bestselling Irish author, Aimee Alexander.

Grace Sullivan flees Dublin with her two teenage children, Jack and Holly, returning to the sleepy West Cork village where she grew up. No one in Killrowan knows what Grace is running from – or that she’s even running. She’d like to keep it that way.

Taking over from her father, Des, as the village doctor offers a real chance for Grace to begin again. But will she and the family adapt to life in a small rural community? Will the villagers accept an outsider as their GP? Will Grace live up to the doctor that her father was? And will she find the inner strength to face the past when it comes calling?

Season of Second Chances is a heart-warming story of friendship, love and finding the inner strength to face a future that may bring back the past.

Perfect for fans of Call The Midwives, The Durrells, Doc Martin and All Creatures Great and Small. The villagers of Killrowan will steal into your heart and make you want to stay with them forever.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Contemporary Rural Drama SEASON OF SECOND CHANCES by @aimeealexbooks @denisedeegan #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Liz, she blogs here https://lizannelloyd.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Liz has been reading Season Of Second Chances by Aimee Alexander

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This is a novel which captivates you from the first page. Grace and her two teenage children, Jack and Holly, have left Dublin to live in the quiet village on the coast of Cork where she grew up. Escaping an impossible life, she is taking over as a GP from her father, Des. She soon discovers her neighbours to be judgemental about “Young Doctor Sullivan” so she won’t be revealing the secret she has left in Dublin.  Prickly Jack knows they had to leave, but he doesn’t relish life in the middle of nowhere, while Holly has always lacked confidence. But things gradually improve. Grace impresses the locals with her skill as a doctor and her children begin to make friends.

This is both a heart-warming story and an edge of the seat drama as you wait for their past to catch up with them.  Adding a touch of romance in the form of an American author with a sad past and some amusing incidents with some of the local community make this a perfect lockdown escape. And I forgot to mention Benji the dog. I was so pleased to discover that there will be a sequel.

Book description

When leaving is just the beginning… A novel of family, love, and learning to be kind to yourself by award-winning, bestselling Irish author, Aimee Alexander.

Grace Sullivan flees Dublin with her two teenage children, Jack and Holly, returning to the sleepy West Cork village where she grew up. No one in Killrowan knows what Grace is running from – or that she’s even running. She’d like to keep it that way.

Taking over from her father, Des, as the village doctor offers a real chance for Grace to begin again. But will she and the family adapt to life in a small rural community? Will the villagers accept an outsider as their GP? Will Grace live up to the doctor that her father was? And will she find the inner strength to face the past when it comes calling?

Season of Second Chances is a heart-warming story of friendship, love and finding the inner strength to face a future that may bring back the past.

Perfect for fans of Call The Midwives, The Durrells, Doc Martin and All Creatures Great and Small. The villagers of Killrowan will steal into your heart and make you want to stay with them forever.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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