Everybody’s talking – but what’s really going on?
Rumour has it that Stella Hutton landed her new job thanks to family connections. She’s guarded about her past and private about her new life.
Over in Long Dansbury, there’s always a rumour circulating about Xander – but the eligible bachelor shrugs off village gossip.
Then a rumour starts that Longbridge Hall is up for sale. Home to the eccentric Fortescues, it has dominated Long Dansbury lives for centuries.
Stella is summoned to sell the estate. But Xander grew up there. His secrets and memories are not for sale. He’ll do anything to stand in Stella’s way. Anything but fall in love."
I read my first Freya North book in a long time last year, and really enjoyed Chances. I found the characters were really likeable, and I enjoyed the whole story around them, and the way North told the story. So when I was asked to review Freya's new book Rumours, I was really excited to give it a go. I have to say that I loved the cover straight away. The black is really striking and works well with the soft pinks, and makes it a book you will definitely want to pick up and find out more about. I hoped that the story would be full of juicy rumours and things going on as the title would suggest, but sadly I felt that this was one area where the book was really lacking - what a shame!
Stella Hutton has just got a new job as an estate agent - not her dream job by any stretch, but she has to put a roof over the head of herself and her young son Will. She finds herself lumbered with having to sell the ancient Longbridge Hall in the small village of Long Dansbury, which starts the small community talking about what the owner Lady Lydia is thinking of. Lydia's young friend Xander is concerned about the antics of the estate agents, and the welfare of his friend, and so decides to get involved in the sale of Longbridge Hall without thinking twice. Will Xander be able to stop Stella from selling the hall from under Lady Lydia, and why is Stella so keen to keep returning to Long Dansbury?
I have to be honest and say it took me a while to get into this book. I found North's way to storytelling to be a bit rambly in parts, it did go on when I longed for it to get to the action a bit more and get going! I found the character of Stella to be quite likeable. She wants to do the best for herself and her son, and finds herself to be a natural at her new job, despite the opposing opinions of her new colleagues who don't seem that pleased to welcome their new recruit. I loved the relationship between Stella and Will, and loved that they are really close, North writes this relationship particularly well and Will is a well-adjusted little boy. There's a bit of mystery around his father for the duration of the novel, which I quite enjoyed and it kept me guessing.
Xander, a shortened version of Alexander, is the male lead of the book and I couldn't help but like him a lot! He's close to Lady Lydia, an old family friend and I liked how he looked out for her, especially when he thought Stella was up to no good with her and Longbridge Hall. I liked the antagonistic relationship between he and Stella as well - North really does write relationships and her characters very well, and they always seem so realistic, despite the pretty quaint setting of this book. I imagined Long Dansbury to be a beautiful picturesque little village, and I have to say I love books with settings like this - makes a change from all the London/New York ones out there!
My bigggest gripe with the book was that I felt it was a bit too long. There was a lot of heavy description in there, ranging from Stella and her home life, to Xander and his, and finally to Lady Lydia and all things related to the house and the sale. While it was necessary for the movement of the book, I did feel at times that I was bogged down with it, and had to give myself a quick pep talk to keep going! I love a good narrative as much as the next person, but there was something about this in parts which just seemed to drag. Also, despite the storyline of the house sale, it didn't feel like a huge amount happened in the book - it was fairly obvious where it was going (which I didn't mind at all) but I guess I was hoping for a few more twists and turns along the way. It's a nice read to settle into, but didn't quite live up to the brilliant Chances. The characters were good, the setting wonderful but for me just a tad too long and with a slight lack of action. I'll be looking forward to North's next book :)
You can buy Rumours as a paperback or an eBook now.