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Published by Crooked Cat Books, 8 September 2017. ISBN:
978-1976203244. ASIN: B075D9F35H
Gibson is in her early thirties and, following her parents’ deaths, she is
alone in the world, apart from her childhood friend Louise Barton. Freya works
in London as PA for popular novelist Patrick Underwood. Still fragile after a
destructive relationship and the loss of her parents, Freya is worried that
Patrick’s attitude to her has become strangely remote and she is afraid that he
wishes to replace her and get a new PA. Patrick is going on a business trip to
America and Freya is planning to have a holiday when she hears that she has
been left a house in Hampshire by Violet Wellman, a very distant cousin that
she has never met.
Freya goes to view 2 Ladywell House and
immediately falls in love with it. When she enters the house, she is greeted by
the smell of roses, which makes her think of her late father’s garden. Later
Freya discovers that some women and a few men can smell the scent of the
flowers that mean a lot to them when they are in the house. The house has many
carvings of hares and there are hares on the hill behind the house. An old
legend prophesies disaster for anyone who harms a hare on the land of Ladywell.
Fascinated by her new house, Freya explores and
finds a message from Violet telling her to complete a ritual sacred to the
women of Ladywell and begging Freya to ‘restore the balance.’ As Freya delves
deeper into the history of her property, she realises that this involves the
rowan tree, the hares and a well of pure water, which has vanished but which
Freya hopes to rediscover.
Freya is made welcome by her neighbours and the
people of the town and, by questioning them and researching locally, she begins
to unravel the secrets and history of her new home and of her own life. As she
restores the balance in Ladywell, the house also helps her to restore the
balance in her life and prepares her for Patrick’s return from America.
The House at Ladywell is a stand-alone
novel set near Winchester in Hampshire, where many of the author’s series books
are located. Most of the book is narrated in Freya’s First-Person viewpoint but
when questions are raised in Freya’s mind about certain aspects of the history
of the house, the author provides the reader with a cameo short story of that
historical period, all involving the strong, ingenious and single-minded women
who lived in and loved the house at Ladywell.
The House at Ladywell is not a
crime story, although there are crimes, including murder, in the historical
cameos. It is a romantic mystery story, as Freya discovers the secrets of her
house and of her own childhood. In tone it reminded me of the writing of Mary
Stewart, with its First-Person narrator heroine and the evocative descriptions
of the house and countryside and the gentle touches of magic. Freya is a
delightful protagonist and it is a very enjoyable read.
Reviewer: Carol Westron
Nicola Sladewas brought
up in Poole, Dorset. She wrote children’s stories when her three children were
growing up, moving onto short stories for several national magazines. Winning a
story competition in Family Circle galvanised her into writing seriously and
since then her stories and articles have been commissioned regularly. Scuba Dancin, a romantic comedy was her
first published novel. After that she wrote a series of Victorian mysteries: Murder Most Welcome published by Robert Hale Ltd, 2008, featuring
Charlotte Richmond, a young widow in the 1850s. Nicola has a second series,
featuring former headmistress, Harriet Quigley, and her sidekick and cousin,
Rev Sam Hathaway. Nicola, her husband and their cat live near Winchester in
Carol Westronis a successful short
story writer and a Creative Writing teacher.She is the moderator for the cosy/historical crime panel, The Deadly
Dames.Her crime novels are set both in contemporary
and Victorian times.The Terminal
Velocity of Cats is the first in her Scene of Crimes novels, was published
July 2013. Her latest book The Fragility
of Poppies was published 10 June 2016.