Thursday, 3 August 2017

The Secrets of Villa Rosso
Release Date: 21st July 2017
Publisher: Harper Impulse
Genres: Cosy Mystery / Romance

Escape to Italy for a summer romance to remember
When Ellie Maddison is sent on a business trip to Southern Italy, she's reminded why she loves her job – set amongst rolling vineyards and rich olive groves, the beautiful Villa Rosso is the perfect escape from her life back home. But what Ellie isn't prepared for is the instant connection she feels to the estate's director Max Johnson, or the secrets they share that are as intertwined as the rambling vines that cover Villa Rosso.

It's not long before Ellie finds herself entangled in the history of the place, trying to understand the undeniable effect Max is having on her. As their relationship grows, what will Ellie discover about this idyllic villa and those who have walked through its doors?

What started as a simple work trip will change Ellie's life forever.

It isn’t just the sunshine and the electric blue sky, but the musical calls of the countryside that reach out to me. A chorus of low-level sounds play like a soft melody in the background. It’s breathtakingly beautiful and I feel like I’m watching a re-run of a favourite film. I could stand here for a long time simply taking in the detail and with each sweep of my eyes noticing something new.
Spinning around I look back at the villa, taking in the rustic beauty of the stonework and the pale orange-red hue of the sun-bleached roof tiles. This is, quite simply, unreal. It’s a little piece of heaven and, so far removed from my daily life that it’s hard to believe this is on the same planet. The sheer scale of the landscape literally steals your breath away. I’m a mere speck, small and insignificant in the grand scheme nature is presenting to me. But rather bizarrely, it doesn’t feel alien in anyway at all. The vastness isn’t overwhelming, but strangely comforting.
I walk back to a cluster of wooden tables surrounding a small fountain and take a seat. As I dive into my bag to extract some sunglasses, I hear a polite cough and look up at the face staring down at me.
‘Mrs Maddison? I’m Max, Max Johnson. Welcome to Villa Rosso.’
I stand, automatically plastering a pleasant smile on my surprised face as recognition kicks in. I know this man, I mean, I’ve met him before. At least I think I have, but there’s nothing similar reflected back at me, only a warm smile. The sort of smile that radiates out from mysteriously deep, hazel eyes. We shake hands. He’s younger than I expected, probably in his early forties and tall. Six foot something that’s for sure, because I feel he’s towering over me.
‘I’m sorry to disturb you. I just wanted you to know that I’m here at your disposal whenever you are ready to begin. Would you like me to fetch you a coffee so you can sit for a while and enjoy the view?’
Although I knew he was British, his tan and elegant demeanour lend an air of cosmopolitan sophistication. I would not have been at all surprised if he had been Italian. He’s hovering politely and I still haven’t answered him…

I make no secret of the fact that I am a huge Linn B Halton fan and always get extremely excited when she writes a new book. The Secrets of Villa Rosso particularly excited me because I'm also writing a book that's partially set in Italy too. And, I hope that I have described the beautiful country just as well as Linn Halton has in her book. Reading this book was like being transported there and I could even smell the beautiful flowers and the Italian cooking. I could imagine the terrace at Villa Rosso with the beautiful view of the mountains.

Ellie has always been a stay at home mother and wife. When her friend offers her a part time position in her interior design company Ellie gladly accepts and life for her and her family trundles on. She dearly loves her husband Josh and their two teenage daughters and life is as it should be with Ellie relying heavily on Josh for love, passion and friendship. She feels she doesn't need anyone else and that Josh is her soul mate. You are only ever blessed with one true soul mate in life. Aren't you? She always holds a little something of herself back from everyone, apart from her best friend and boss. Why does she need anything or anyone else when she has Josh.

Ellie offers to take her friend's place on a business trip to Italy to meet with Max at Villa Rosso and hopefully forge the beginnings of a working relationship between the design company and the community around Villa Rosso. Ellie is completely out of her comfort zone. There is so much at stake.

Once there, Ellie is completely under the spell of Villa Rosso and its beauty. But, the place seems familiar to her. Has she been there before and why does she feel like she knows Max? The feeling is unsettling and soon Ellie discovers that the villa harbours its own secrets, namely the disappearance of Max's financee. However, when she returns home, Ellie can't break her connection to Villa Rosso or to Max and she finds no solace even in sleep. Is it possible to live two lives? To love two people? To be two people in completely different worlds?

In her usual and wonderful style, Linn B Halton has woven the paranormal into this story but in such a way that its almost teasing the reader, wanting them to keep reading to find out what is going on. This book draws you in and keeps you there. The book also introduces a cast of complicated yet intriguing characters. While Ellie appears happy with her life there is an undercurrent of control from her husband Josh. On the outside he appears supportive of all she does, but there's always an element of subtly undermining her job, her confidence and her ambition. A desperate need to remind her that the family isn't the same without her. He doesn't like things to change too much. I found him a difficult character to like. He never actually does anything truly terrible to Ellie.............but yet I found him oppressive.  Ellie sees this as love.

Max is introduced to us as a lovely gentle man who is living within the glare of suspicion over the disappearance of his fiancee. He is tied to Villa Rosso, unable to leave through a sense of duty. Yet Ellie knows that there is more to the mystery and despite feeling completely overwhelmed by her own sense of duty to family and her conflicting feelings, she is drawn deeper and deeper into the mystery, wanting to free Max from Villa Rosso. Her own circumstances mirror Max as they are both a prisoner to commitment and the promises they have made.

This book was beautifully paced throughout and just the right amount of tension to keep the reader gripped from start to finish. Linn B Halton has written another book that will keep her fans enthralled by her beautiful writing style and ability to introduce an interesting story with some unusual elements. The ending was definitely not what I expected by I have to say it worked extremely well and I love it when a book has the ability to leave me a little surprised. A highly recommended read. 

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Bristol-born Linn B Halton lives in the Forest of Dean, in the UK. 

"I'm a hopeless romantic, self-confessed chocaholic, and lover of strong coffee. For me, life is about family, friends, writing ... and house renovation! Oh, and the occasional glass of White Grenache..."
An Amazon UK Top 100 best-selling author with A Cottage in the Country in November 2015, Under the Stars and A Little Sugar, A Lot of Love also became best-sellers in 2016 & 2017. Linn's novels have been short-listed in the UK's Festival of Romance and the eFestival of Words Book Awards. Linn won the 2013 UK Festival of Romance: Innovation in Romantic Fiction award.

Linn writes chick lit, women's contemporary fiction and psychic romance for Harper Impulse, Choc Lit and Endeavour Press.

Goodreads Author Page:

One Response so far.

  1. Hi Debbie and, once again, thank you for yet another absolutely fabulous book tour! I love that you enjoyed a little trip to Italy and, as a writer yourself, you know what it's like to spend your days writing about the warmth and vibrancy of a foreign climate. And Italy is just the best ... isn't it? So much to offer with the sunshine, beautiful scenery, wonderful food and friendly people. It took me about three years for the idea for this story to come together - very unusual for me, but when eventually I had that lightbulb moment I knew Castrovillari, in southern Italy was the perfect setting to carry the storyline. Now I'm writing about Athens ... we're so lucky that our work takes us to such wonderful places ha! Ha! A virtual hug from me. Xx

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