I have been reading Catherine Alliots books for a while now and her last book `The Secret Life of Evie Hamilton' I loved. When I picked this book up I was expecting it to be just as good if not better. I am still unsure how I feel about this book. Don't get me wrong, her writing is still brilliant as her characters but I felt like there was something missing and I can't put my finger on what.
Hattie as a character was great. She is a woman who seems to have a very happy life but as the first few chapters go in we start to delve into her past. We are given snippets of her past and what she endured when she was first out of college. We are introduced to Hal her friend who was totally devoted to her. When Hal agrees to get Hattie a job working for his brother Dominic she jumps at the chance. It is at this stage in her life when things don't go quite according to plan. She ends up falling for Dominic who is married and expecting his first child.
When back in her `current' life we meet her work partner Maggie who is feisty and strong, all of the things Hattie feels she isn't. However their work life is coming along nicely and when Hattie's sister Laura moves into a big pad in the country they jump at the chance to pitch for the commission to redecorate and design the family home. They also find when they arrive that they are pitching against Ralph De Grandville who is a world class designer and a Diva to boot. This makes for some great scenes between fiery Maggie and Ralph.
When they finally arrive in the village Hattie is a little worried but tries to bury her past secrets and move on. With the introduction of Letty who lives down the road and her daughter Cassie things don't quite go for plan for Hattie in more ways than one. Letty is Dominic's widow and Cassie their child. Along with Letty and Cassie she also bumps into Hal who she hasn't seen in many years and this also causes problems for her. The way the story is written, flittering back and forth is quite good because you are consumed by the story slowly and it works itself up to the finale which was completely unexpected.
In Hattie's personal life we meet Ivan her new toy boy who to be frank, we don't really hear that much of. This along with the fact that the ending surprised me was maybe why I had reluctance to say this book was brilliant. There were moments when I was completely absorbed in the book. The storyline with Hattie's son Seffy was really good and made for some shocking and heart warming scenes.
We also are taken back through Hattie's past to a time when she was working out in Bosnia with her brother Kit. This part of the story was pretty good and you get a good insight into why Hattie makes some of her decisions. It's also a great foundation for the second part of the book. Her son Seffy is integrated throughout the story but really comes into his own in the second half. Hattie's family were written with great strength because each one wormed their way into my heart; especially Hattie's mum, dad and brother.
Like I said before I did enjoy this book, but felt there was something missing. Maybe because I enjoyed her last book so much I felt a little let down with this one. This certainly doesn't mean this isn't a good book, just lacking that certain something. I think overall Catherine Alliott has produced another good book as she always has. I only have doubts that maybe this didn't have as much spark for me in comparison to something like her last book. I will continue to pre-order her books and look forward to the next one.