Title: The House at Greenacres
Author: Darcie Boleyn
Publication Date: 25 March 2019
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Previous Books: Summer at Connwenna Cove, Christmas at Conwenna Cove, Forever at Conwenna Cove, Love at the Northern Lights and Love at the Italian Lake
Welcome to day 10 on the blog tour for The House at Greenacres. Huge thanks to Canelo for inviting me to take part in the blog tour and for the review copy of the novel.
All roads lead home…
When Holly Dryden fled Penhallow Sands nearly a year ago she was determined to put the past – and Rich Turner – behind her. But now an unexpected loss and financial trouble has led her back to the family vineyard and it’s time to tell Rich the truth – he’s a father.
Surrounded by the memories of what they once shared Holly’s anger fades in the glow of Rich’s undeniable love for their son and the way he selflessly steps in to help the vineyard out of trouble. As Holly watches Rich flourish in his new role as father to baby Luke, she realises that though they can’t change the past, the future is still theirs to write…
I’m very excited to be able to treat you to an extract from the book:
‘He’s beautiful!’ Fran smiled as Holly lifted her son out of the cot.
‘I think so, but then I’m biased.’
‘How old is he?’
‘So is he …’ Fran bit her bottom lip and Holly knew what her friend wanted to ask.
‘He is. I’ve just told Rich … He didn’t know before. It’s complicated, but we haven’t had a chance to speak about it properly yet, so please—’
‘Of course I won’t say anything. It’s not my place to. But then … you must have been pregnant when you left?’
‘I was but I didn’t know it. Because of my polycystic ovaries, I rarely had periods anyway, so I had no idea anything was wrong. I felt a bit under the weather but blamed a cold, then the stress of me and Rich breaking up. Look, I need to make Luke a bottle, so let’s get him downstairs and we can talk more.’
Fran squeezed Holly’s arm. ‘We won’t have an opportunity to talk downstairs. As soon as people see Luke, they’ll be all over you like a rash. Let me give him a cuddle now and we can get together at the weekend or something and have a proper chat.’
Holly handed Luke over, and Fran cooed at him until he grabbed hold of one of her earrings.
‘Here, let me help you.’ Holly gently prised Luke’s fingers from the antique silver drops, then took him back. ‘He clearly likes your choice of jewellery.’
‘He has good taste then.’ Fran chuckled. ‘Don’t fancy having my ears torn in half, though.’ She removed her earrings and tucked them into a pocket, then held out her arms again. ‘You get his bottle ready and I’ll bring him down.’
‘I did try to feed him myself.’ Holly felt the old urge to explain herself emerging. ‘It was all I heard when I was pregnant – how important it was to breastfeed and give the baby the milk my body had made especially for him. He was born prematurely, and I did express milk at the hospital, which they gave to him in tiny bottles. I fed him for six weeks after taking him home, then I developed mastitis and it was agony. I was in tears all the time. After three rounds of antibiotics, I gave up and put him back on the bottle.’
‘Holly.’ Fran looked her straight in the eye. ‘Is this baby fed, warm and safe?’
‘Well … yes. Of course.’
‘Then stop beating yourself up about breastfeeding.’
‘I can’t help it. He’s still so young, and every time I see a woman feeding her child, or read something about it, I feel so guilty that I can’t do it properly.’
‘You’re doing the best you can. My mother told me that she fed me until I was seven months old, but I know some women who popped their babies straight on the bottle, and there’s nothing wrong with that at all. You gave Luke a damned good start, so please don’t be so hard on yourself.’
‘Oh Fran, I’ve missed you.’
And she had. She’d missed her practical, no-nonsense approach to life, missed her reassurance and her hugs. Fran had always been able to make her feel better about things.
‘I’ve missed you too.’ Hurt crossed Fran’s face again, and Holly’s heart lurched.
‘I need to explain some things to you, and I hope that when I do, you’ll understand. There isn’t a good enough reason for running off and not contacting you, but I was a mess. Ironically, I needed your friendship and support more than ever, but I couldn’t ask for it. I had to cut myself off from everything at Greenacres and Penhallow Bay, and the only contact I had was with my dad.’
‘I know. I asked him about you and he told me you were well but that you needed some time out. He was very good and didn’t give anything away about where you were or about Luke.’
Fran moved Luke onto her hip, then took Holly’s hand.
‘You’re here now and you’re safe and well. I can see that you’ve had your hands full. Besides which, you’ve just lost your grandpa and I don’t want you feeling bad about me today of all days. I’m fine; I survived. But please promise me one thing.’
‘Don’t run off again … at least not without letting me know how to get hold of you.’
Holly took a deep breath. ‘I promise you, I won’t.’
It was a promise she intended to keep.
Holly gave the bottle one more shake, then tested the heat of the milk on her wrist. It was perfect. She walked to the door, and froze as Lucinda Turner filled the doorway.
‘Lucinda.’ She pulled herself up to her full height. She didn’t want any conflict, but this was her home, and if Lucinda wanted a repeat performance of last year, then Holly had a few things to say in return.
‘I’m very sorry for your loss, Holly.’
‘Uh … thanks.’ Holly recalled seeing Lucinda at the church, noticing the question in her eyes when she’d looked at Luke. Then she remembered the last time Lucinda had spoken to her before that, and she shivered.
‘He was a good man, your grandpa.’
‘I see congratulations are in order too.’ Lucinda’s brown eyes fixed on the bottle in Holly’s hand.
Holly could sense the questions bubbling. No doubt Lucinda thought she had got together with someone else as soon as she’d split up from Rich. It hurt her to feel that this woman who she’d spent so much time with, who she’d once cared about and respected, could believe that of her.
‘It’s not how it looks, Lucinda.’
‘It’s not for me to judge you.’ Rich’s mother shook her head sadly.
‘Judge me?’ The words were out before she could stop herself. She swallowed hard, pushing down the rest of what she wanted to say. The last time she had seen Lucinda, the older woman had judged her very harshly indeed.
‘Here he is!’ Fran squeezed past Lucinda with Luke in her arms, and Holly sagged with relief at the interruption. ‘He says he wants his bottle pronto.’
Fran pulled out a chair at the kitchen table, then shifted Luke around in her arms, as naturally as though she held babies every day. Holly handed her the bottle and Luke started to feed, gazing up at Fran as he did so, as if he’d known her all his short life. He was so trusting, such a happy, settled baby, and Holly knew she was lucky in that respect. It could have been very different if he’d been born even earlier, or if he’d not been as strong as he was.
She pulled out a chair and sank onto it, wishing she could go and lie down, but with Lucinda in the room, her fight-or-flight instinct was on high alert. Lucinda crossed the kitchen and crouched down in front of Fran.
‘He’s perfect.’ She stroked Luke’s cheek gently, which made Holly bristle. If Holly hadn’t been good enough for Lucinda’s son, would she think the same of her child? But then, as she watched, Lucinda’s eyes filled with tears. ‘He looks so much like …’
‘I know.’ Holly nodded. She’d seen the photographs, had known Rich and his brother Dean as children. Of course she was aware that Luke was the image of them. ‘He’s Rich’s son.’
She had wondered about telling Lucinda when she saw her, had wondered if the woman would even want to know, but witnessing her reaction to Luke had made the decision easy. In spite of how badly Lucinda had treated her the last time she’d come to Greenacres, it was clear now that meeting her grandson had moved her.
Fran looked up and met Holly’s eyes.
‘Tell you what,’ she said. ‘I think he needs changing. I’ll just pop him upstairs.’
Holly smiled her thanks, then she and Lucinda were left alone.
‘I can hardly believe what’s happened to us all,’ Lucinda said as she sat down. ‘What a mess we’ve made of things.’
‘Lucinda … I’ve only just told Rich about Luke. It’s a difficult situation and I hope you’ll understand that I couldn’t tell you before. After the way you spoke to me last year …’
‘I know, and I am truly sorry. I was so angry and upset when Rich left that I couldn’t think straight.’
Holly’s stomach was somersaulting with anxiety, but she knew she had to get the conversation over with or she’d never be able to relax in Penhallow Sands. She’d learnt the hard way that delaying difficult conversations didn’t always help. She’d been afraid of what her grandpa would think about Luke, and afraid of how Lucinda and Rex would treat her and her son, so she hadn’t come home; and because of that, she hadn’t been able to hug her grandpa again or kiss him goodbye.
‘Lucinda, I was broken-hearted when Rich let me down the way he did, and then to have you coming here and saying such hurtful things was like having vinegar poured over a wound.’ Holly’s stomach churned at the memory of Lucinda standing at the back door, her eyes red and puffy, her hands planted firmly on her ample hips. When Holly had answered the door, she’d expected Lucinda to hug her and cry with her because Rich had left, but instead she’d been subjected to a tirade in which Lucinda had blamed her for the fact that her only surviving son had upped and left without an explanation.
Lucinda shook her head sadly and released a deep sigh.
‘Holly, I know the truth now. I know it wasn’t your fault at all.’
‘Rich told you?’
‘He did. He told me that he let you down by not turning up at the solicitor’s office to sign the contracts for the cottage, then when you tracked him down, he hurt you even more.’
‘I wanted to explain to you that I hadn’t made him leave, that I loved him and that he’d broken my heart, but you—’
‘I blamed you because it was easier; because I couldn’t bear thinking that my only son had left me and his dad. I didn’t mean what I said.’
Holly nodded, but the pain ran deep. She’d known Lucinda throughout her childhood, as she and Rich had been good friends long before there was anything romantic between them. Lucinda had tended to Holly’s cut knees, hugged her when she’d cried over losing her mum and taken her shopping so they could enjoy girlie days out together. Then, that awful day, she had told Holly that she was to blame for Rich leaving the village, that she had never been good enough for him and that she never wanted to see her again.
‘When I found out I was pregnant, I fell apart. I had no idea what to do. In the past, I’d have come to you and asked your advice. Especially in light of the fact that Luke is your grandson. But because of what you’d said, I had no idea if you’d even care. I thought about coming back to Greenacres so many times, but the knowledge of how much you hated me was one of the things that kept me away.’
Lucinda’s mouth was open and tears were running freely down her cheeks.
‘There’s no excuse for what I did, Holly.’
‘I do understand that you lost your son, and that made certain things harder for you …’
‘No. That was why I reacted as I did, but to treat you so appallingly – a young woman who was like a daughter to me – was inexcusable, and I understand if you can’t forgive me. It took me a while to realize what a mistake I’d made, and it wasn’t until Rich came home and explained everything that I understood how bad that mistake was. But love, please believe me when I say that I never hated you.’
Holly sniffed. She had abhorred being angry at Lucinda and it had contributed to her own misery.
‘Please try to forgive me, Holly. I’d really love to get to know my grandson and to make it up to you.’
Holly nodded. ‘I’d like that too.’
She did want Luke to know his family, but she also knew that it would take time. There was a lot of hurt to work through first, and months of pain wouldn’t disappear overnight.
‘I’m glad you’re okay, Holly. We were all worried when you suddenly left, and I knew it was partly my fault. What with Rich going too, it was like losing two members of our family.’ Lucinda wiped at her eyes as she stood up. ‘But the most important thing is that you’re all right. And your baby son too. How … how old is he?’
‘Three and a half months. He came seven weeks early,’ Holly added.
‘That must have been a worrying time for you.’
‘It was. I need to speak to Rich about it all.’ She met Lucinda’s gaze. ‘We didn’t have much time to talk earlier, but obviously there are conversations that need to be had.’
‘Of course there are.’ Lucinda pushed her shiny bobbed brown hair behind her ears. ‘You’re not rushing off again, though, are you?’
Holly shook her head.
‘Come and see us at the bakery? Please.’
‘And bring Luke?’
‘And remember that I am sorry, Holly. I’d do anything to take my words back.’
Holly nodded. If only it was as simple as that, but once things were said, they were out there. All she could do now was try to move on, for Luke’s sake.
Hopefully that little taster has whetted your appetite! If so, you can find the links for purchasing the book below.
If you have read one of Darcie Boleyn’s previous novels, you will know to expect a warm and uplifting tale. The House at Greenacres is no exception.
Set in a country vineyard (is there ever a better setting for any book!) in Cornwall. I couldn’t imagine a more appealing setting right now than a warm summer’s day in the green countryside, surrounded by grape vines, friends, wine and frolicking dogs! Penhallow Sands sounds like a marvellous place and there is a wonderful sense of community running through the story.
As Holly returns to her childhood home for her grandpa’s funeral, she is apprehensive. She hasn’t ben home for a year and now she is returning with a small baby in tow. A baby who some people aren’t yet aware of… The reasons for Holly’s departure from Penhallow Sands quickly become clear. Slightly less clear is whether or not Holly can tear herself away from her beloved family and leave Penhallow Sands once again.
The book contains a wonderful cast of engaging characters, from sweet and resilient Holly and her loving and eccentric Granny Glenda to conscience-stricken Rich and his apologetic mother Lucinda. All the characters are well-rounded and believable, being both flawed but likeable. Rich has acted in a terrible way towards Holly, however the reader is taken past his actions and to the man beneath (or at least to the man Rich wants to be). He has recognised his flaws, accepted his punishment and now will he be given a second chance to make things right…?
Despite predicting the ending pretty early on in the book, this does not detract from the tale. It is an utterly charming novel, a heart-warming and enjoyable tale of family, love and second chances. A great spring time read!
About the Author
Darcie Boleyn has a huge heart and is a real softy. She never fails to cry at books and movies, whether the ending is happy or not. Darcie is in possession of an overactive imagination that often keeps her awake at night. Her childhood dream was to become a Jedi but she hasn’t yet found suitable transport to take her to a galaxy far, far away. She also has reservations about how she’d look in a gold bikini, as she rather enjoys red wine, cheese and loves anything with ginger or cherries in it – especially chocolate. Darcie fell in love in New York, got married in the snow, rescues uncoordinated greyhounds and can usually be found reading or typing away on her laptop.
Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour: