My thanks to NetGalley and Aria for a review copy of this one.
A Country Rivalry is set in Treweham village in the Cotswalds where we “meet” and follow the stories of numerous characters—the lord of the manor Tobias Cavendish-Blake, recently married to Megan; his younger brother Sebastian who is seeing success on the stage as Richard III but had seen unhappiness in his personal life; Dylan a jockey who is starting his own training yard with a girl he loves Flora but has to face his playboy past; Finula chef at the Templar, the local inn and also daughter of its proprietor, who is also dealing with heartbreak; and Gary and Tracy Belcher, lottery winners who have made Treweham their home after finding that their fortune means that their old friends only value them for their money, and while moving has meant getting away from this, they haven’t yet found a new “home” at Treweham. A documentary-film maker, Marcus Devlin (who has met Finula before) decides to make a film on the countryside and Treweham specifically (he has his reasons), and the arrival of the crew throws the lives of all its residents into disarray as the crew Marcus and Viola (his researcher, with an agenda of her own) are set on showing the worst side of village life, especially the aristocracy. On the other side, their arrival brings hope of love to some of the characters, Finula, and Sebastian, specifically.
This was a pleasant enough read for me (although it did turn out different from what I was expecting from the description (second time this month)—there was no cover at the time I requested the book). The characters are pretty straight-forward, though they each have their problems and secrets, loneliness, heartbreak, illness, revenge etc. among them, they aren’t complicated in themselves (but then, this is popular fiction). But that said, I did find myself getting interested in their stories, and wanting to know how things would turn out for each of them. From the beginning one does know that this is a feel-good sort of book, so things will turn out right certainly, but I still liked seeing how that would happen. The characters were also all fairly likeable except the one/s who aren’t supposed to be, but also they are more or less “perfect” as far as appearance goes even if not in their natures. I also liked that the resolution of everything was not too melodramatic (just a touch). But there were parts of this book that read like a cheesy romance which made me cringe a bit—these I felt could have been done much more subtly. Also there were some parts of the book (not very many, but still) that made me feel as if I’m reading a sequel where previous events are being recapped, which I don’t think is the case, so possibly these could have been written differently as well. Overall, this was a light-hearted read, pleasant, and one I would have enjoyed much more if it weren’t for some aspects (the cheesy bits specifically).
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