What would you sacrifice to be with the person you love?
Summer has arrived and it’s over a year since strangers Abigail and Edward bought Winfield Hall at auction and restored it together. Now, two new tenants are about to join them at their beautiful Georgian home. Workaholic Harry Freeman has forgotten what it is to relax so when he meets healer, Aura Arden, and learns to meditate with her, he can’t believe how good he feels and he soon finds himself falling for her. But, with her bare feet and crystal beads, Aura’s not a big hit with Harry’s old-fashioned parents, and he finds himself torn between the people he loves most in the world. It isn’t just Harry and Aura finding love. Summer has woven its spell over Edward and his brother Oscar, and both are making a play for Abi. But Abi isn’t happy at having to choose between these two very different men and, when Oscar’s behavior spirals out of control, she realizes that some decisions can have devastating consequences. High Blue Sky is the second novel in the heart-warming trilogy from the bestselling author of The Rose Girls and The Book Lovers series.
When I read The House In The Clouds back in June I was gutted that it ended before the relationship between Edward and Abi had really been resolved properly, so you can imagine my delight when I got my hands on the second in the series. I have to confess to being a little disappointed that Edward and Abi's story took a bit of a backseat in this one, but with hindsight I should have expected it. Having read Jenny Kane's Mill Grange series where each book focuses on a different relationship, I should have realised that this was likely to happen here as well.
However, that's definitely not to say that I didn't enjoy the book, because I absolutely did. Whilst I didn't warm to the new characters as much as I had to Edward and Abi, it's only because of how much I wanted the original pairing to get together! Once I got over my self-induced sulk and gave them a chance, they turned out to be a thoroughly likeable pairing. Harry's transition from workaholic man of business to barefoot loving crystal carrier is a bit quick for real life, as is his father's conversion. However, a) that's what love and serious illness can do for you and b) this is the world of the rom-com and therefore it's perfectly permissible!
All joking aside, I realised partway through that my reservations about the character of Aura had as much to do with my own prejudices about crystals as anything else. I remember being given one in my early twenties and thinking 'what on earth am I supposed to do with this?' However, Victoria Connelly has done her research well and addresses this prejudice through the characters and their various reactions to Aura. By the end of the book I found myself seriously contemplating taking myself off to a crystal shop to find my own. I like the idea of having something to ground you as you meditate. In many ways it's similar to the people who use icons or statues when they pray, just a slightly different set of beliefs and it would never occur to me to dismiss someone's religious beliefs so lightly, so why should crystals be any different?
I like books that make me think, especially when on the surface they're light-hearted and what could be termed 'holiday reads'. I've been reading a lot of very weighty books recently that have raised all kinds of questions for me and I love the fact that this one did the same in spite of being such a different genre. It wasn't just with regards to the prejudice against crystals either, it's also the change in the way Harry thinks about his job. It's very easy to not think about the ethics behind who you work for or the products you use, but I think nowadays it's something people are becoming increasingly aware of. Price and quality are all very well, but if people or resources are being exploited in order to produce the goods, should we really be buying them? As happens in the book, the most unlikely of people can suddenly change the way they think about things. My husband and I have been trying to lose some weight recently and have been giving vegetarianism a try as part of that. We've always had a couple of meat free days a week anyway, but I've been finding it more of a challenge than I expected to. One day in a fit of pique I was complaining about something and said, 'And it's not even as though you're insisting on it for any ethical reason. You've just got it into your head that we'll lose more weight if we don't eat meat!' He turned round and said, 'Actually it is partly ethical. I don't think I'll ever give up meat altogether, but I definitely think everyone should be eating less. It's far better for the environment.' I'd have been far less shocked if the statement had come out of the mouth of our sixteen year old who tries to eat as little red meat as he can for that very reason, but he's obviously having more of an influence on his father than he realises!
Back to the book though. Thoroughly enjoyed it in the end and definitely still looking forward to Book 3. My only request is PLEASE have more of Edward and Abi in the next one. They need to be together!
Victoria Connelly lives in a 500-year old thatched cottage in rural Suffolk with her artist husband, a springer spaniel and a flock of ex-battery hens. She is the million-selling author of two bestselling series, The Austen Addicts and The Book Lovers, as well as many other novels and novellas. Her first published novel, Flights of Angels, was made into a film in Germany. Victoria loves books, films, walking, historic buildings and animals. If she isn’t at her keyboard writing, she can usually be found in her garden either with a trowel in her hand or a hen on her lap.
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Twitter: @VictoriaDarcy https://www.twitter.com/victoriadarcy