Blog Tour Review, The Summerhayes Series

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The Girl from Summerhayes/The Secrets of Summerhayes
Merryn Allingham

385 pages/350 pages
Published January 11, 2023

Book Description:  The Girl from Summerhayes

1914, England. Will her decision unite her family or tear them apart?

Surrounded by beautiful gardens in the glorious Sussex countryside, Summerhayes House seems like a true hidden paradise, but behind its polished floors and perfect green lawns is a family divided. The Summer family’s beloved home is under threat, and nineteen-year-old Elizabeth Summer finds herself caught in the heart of the crisis.

Elizabeth’s father believes his daughter marrying well will save Summerhayes. But Elizabeth is distraught at the stifling future ahead of her. A chance meeting with green-eyed Aiden Kellaway, the handsome architect’s apprentice working on the estate’s prized gardens, changes everything. For the first time, Elizabeth pictures an entirely different life, and – despite her father’s wishes – she is determined to take hold of it.

But war is brewing in Europe, and when its long shadow touches Summerhayes, Elizabeth realises her rebellion will come at a price. Desperately torn between family loyalty, society’s expectations and the bright chance at happiness she glimpsed in Aiden’s arms, she is forced to make an impossible choice.

As Elizabeth’s future – and her family’s – hangs in the balance, she must ask herself, is the price worth paying? And can she live with the consequences?

An unforgettable, totally gripping and heart-wrenching historical family saga. Fans of Tracy Rees, Kate Morton and Elizabeth Jane Howard will be utterly swept away by The Girl from Summerhayes.

Previously published as The Buttonmaker’s Daughter.

Book Description:  The Secrets of Summerhayes

1944, England. A chance meeting with a soldier unravels a long-buried family mystery…

England is in the devastating grip of World War Two, and Bethany Merston’s life changes in an instant when bombs screech down over London. Heartbroken, she leaves the shattered ruins of her home behind. In the Sussex countryside, she takes a job as companion to elderly Alice Summer, mistress of the crumbling and over-grown Summerhayes House.

Its once-pristine grounds are now home to a regiment of soldiers preparing for an invasion across the channel. But Bethany’s wartime experiences mean she can find beauty in broken things, and she is captured by the estate’s magic. When she meets handsome, blue-eyed Lieutenant Jos Kerrigan in the gardens one morning, it is clear he has also been captivated by Summerhayes. As their friendship grows, Bethany realises that it’s not just the house she’s falling for…

But something is stirring beneath the surface at Summerhayes… When Bethany discovers that Alice is receiving anonymous letters that have opened up old family wounds, she is determined to find out who is responsible. Convinced that Summerhayes itself holds the key to the mystery, Bethany and Jos explore the grand house together.

The answers lie in a long-forgotten painting in the dusty attic, unravelling the mysteries of the Summer family. And as the truth about Alice’s past comes to light, it has the power to change Bethany’s future.

Will Bethany and Jos’s blossoming love survive the war, or will the secrets of Summerhayes tear them apart?

A totally heartbreaking and gripping wartime family saga, fans of Tracy Rees, Kate Morton and Elizabeth Jane Howard will have their hearts stolen by The Secrets of Summerhayes.

Previously published as The Secret of Summerhayes.

My Review

These books gave me the Downton Abbey vibe that I did not know I was missing.  Both are family sagas with long lasting consequences at stake.  Book one sets the stage at Summerhayes and lays secrets leading up to WWI, while book two works to solve the mysteries from the first book.

These books are slow paced as they are descriptive.  Exactly what you’d expect from a saga.  There is a building of the family dynamic and includes the whole family.  I liked the fun that William and Oliver had in the first book.  Since life is so very different now, I never stop and ponder the struggle of a family to marry off their daughter and the resistance she might have.

Even though they are set 30 years apart, the story continues from the first to the second book.  If you love historical fiction and love the journey of the story, these books are for you.

Author Bio:

Merryn taught university literature for many years, and it took a while to pluck up the courage to begin writing herself. Bringing the past to life is a passion and her historical fiction includes Regency romances, wartime sagas and timeslip novels, all of which have a mystery at their heart. As the books have grown darker, it was only a matter of time before she plunged into crime with a cosy crime series set in rural Sussex against the fascinating backdrop of the 1950s.

 Merryn lives in a beautiful old town in Sussex with her husband. When she’s not writing, she tries to keep fit with adult ballet classes and plenty of walking.

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