Cover Image: The Forbidden Promise

The Forbidden Promise

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Member Reviews

‘One decision, one promise, could impinge on generations for decades, forcing people apart and bringing others together so many years later...’

August, 1940. It's a quiet, moonless night in the Scottish Highlands. Constance McLay has just turned 21, and her life is changed forveer when she sees a Spitfire crash into the loch and saves the pilot... 80 years later, and Kate arrives at the house next to that very same loch, ready to begin a new job, and completely unaware of the decades old mystery she is about to find herself desperate to solve - who is Constance, and why has her name been struck from the records?

I'm a sucker for historical fiction and this one didn't disappoint in the slightest. It's definitely on the lighter side of the genre, which I personally appreciated as it allowed me to really engage with the characters, rather than being sidetracked by a lot of historical detail. The focus on characters was also needed, as at its heart this book is first and foremost a romance! Yes, there is a romantic element to both timelines (and yes, both of these romances are a little bit predictable). But to me, this was in no way a weakness, as even though I knew it was coming I was still so enthralled with watching the romances develop! Plus, there were still a few surprises along the way, including one real OMG moment right near the end which I genuinely never saw coming. And trust me, I read a lot of historical fiction, so that is rare for me to be able to say. 

All in all, this was a really enjoyable book, that I quickly devoured in a single sitting. If you're a fan of historical fiction, or even just enjoy a good romance, do yourself a favour and read this. A beautiful tale of how two people meeting can send ripples through time to impact upon the lives of those who come 80 years after...

Disclaimer - I was fortunate enough to receive an advance reading copy from NetGalley. This has not affected my review in any way, and all opinions are my own.
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This was an easy and enjoyable read linking the lives of two women 80 years apart. Well written and heart warming
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I loved this book. Two stories set eighty years apart but happening in the same house, by the same loch, and in the same cottage in the woods. Secrets slowly unravel as Kate arrives in Scotland and helps prepare for the opening of the house as a hotel. Whose portrait hangs on the wall and why was it so clearly deliberately damaged? Why is one name scratched out of the family Bible? Who was the mysterious pilot that rumour has it was drowned long ago in the loch, and what still lurks in the depths? Romantic, sad, tense, heartbreaking, shocking. The past and present finally come together in a fantastic ending. And how lovely to find out, almost as a cheeky little aside, what happened to Melissa and Guy, two lovely characters from the author's debut book!
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An interesting story that looks at how historical troubles can affect the present day. Definitely recommended to readers who enjoy reading this type of book.
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This book is absolutely wonderful ♥️ It's everything I thought it would be, then some. I really feel like there will be another book following this one.  The story is 1940's and 2019. 
            It is written so we'll I never lost track of where I was!  This is the first book I have read of Lorna Cook's. I immediately went and purchased her other book written before this one.  In my opinion, you don't want to miss out on this one. It's just so good! Enjoy!

Thank you so much, NetGalley,  Lorna Cook, and her publisher for giving me the chance to read and review this wonderful book!
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The Forbidden Promise is a duel time novel based in the Scottish Highlands in 1940 and the present day. Kate has moved from London to Invemoray to help Liz and James set up the grand house as a boutique hotel. While there, she investigates the history of the house after  seeing the name Constance crossed out of the family bible, and finding a slashed portrait of her in the attic. 
In 1940, Constance helps an pilot who’s plane crashes into the loch. She slowly falls in love with him and nurses him back to health without knowing a secret he keeps from her that will change everything. 
I found the story to be captivating, and absolutely loved the Highland setting. The pace moves quickly and there are enough twists to keep you guessing without it becoming farcical. A great read for fans of kate Morton and Rachel Hore.
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Y'all know that feeling you get when you're perusing NetGalley, just looking to see if something catches your eye, and then something JUST GRABS YOU? And then you request it, and AMAZINGLY you're approved? And then you let it sit in your "Start Reading" tab until like 3 days before pub day because you're too scared to be disappointed by this book that, a month ago, looked fantastic? And then you finally download it because UGH ARCHIVED BOOKS ARE THE WORST? And then you read said book and whoa, hey, spoiler alert, YOU LOVED IT?? I mean, like, you loved it so much you immediately looked up other books by that author and downloaded another by her (The Forgotten Village, FYI) within moments of finishing the the book you got from NetGalley??⁣
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Okay, so now you're caught up with my experience reading The Forbidden Promise. Y'all, I love, love, LOVED this one. The premise ticked all my favorite historical fiction tropes: Dual Timeline, Mysterious Secret, WWII, & Star-Crossed Love. ⁣
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The way it all comes together is so completely perfect, and even though I had a sneaky suspicion that I knew the sneaky secret, it was and wasn't what I was expecting. Not to mention, YAYYYY, both timelines were equally captivating and kept me totally hooked (hard feat for these books sometimes).⁣
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If you're into WWII Historical Fiction, I definitely think you'd like to add this one to your TBR. (I honestly loved The Forbidden Promise so much, I might even do a buddy read for The Forgotten Village someday!)⁣
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Thank you to NetGalley & Avon Books for the opportunity to read and review this book before it's publication date! This in no way affected my review, opinions are my own.
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This is a lovely story that will span over eighty years in the Scottish countryside.  We will learn about two family's that live in the Invwemoray House in Scottland from 1940 to 1920.  This is a dual story of two women told to us by both during the journey of the story.

Constance takes a walk on the night of her twenty-first birthday leaving her family at the party taking place for her.  A walk to the loch that will change her life completely when she sees a plane crash and sink in the loch.

Kate has moved to Invwemoray House to help Liz and James keep the property of Invwemoray House in their family by setting it up as a B&B.  She might just find more than she plans to in the 6 months she is in Scottland.

I loved the flow of the story as well as the characters to which I come to thoroughly enjoy reading about their lives..  This is the first time I have read anything by this author and I am happy to say I would love to read more.
Secrets of the past will draw you into the book as it did me.
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In the summer of 1940, Constance McLay escapes the stifling boredom of her twenty-first birthday party only to witness a catastrophic event which will have repercussions, not just for her family at Invermoray House, but for the rest of her own life.

This dual time multi-generational story is quite special and I have found so much to enjoy in getting to know Constance, who, typical of her genteel upbringing, wanted so much more than her life offered, and when excitement beckoned, it seemed that it could only lead to tragedy and heartbreak.

In the here and now, PR and communications expert, Kate arrives in the Scottish highlands all set to put the beautiful Invermoray House on the tourist map, however, once there she discovers rather more than she bargained for, and when she also learns that the owners son, James, doesn't really want her help, all sorts of complications arise.

Beautifully written with such an authentic feel for the history of the time that I was quite engulfed in Constance's story and felt quite bereft when we flipped forwards in time to the Summer of 2020. That's not to say that the present day element of this time slip story is lacking in interest, far from it, in fact I could quite easily have read so much more about the present day inhabitants of Invermoray House and wanted their story to carry on for much longer !

I remember reading this author's debut novel last year and being completely blown away by her skill at snuggling the reader right into the very heart of the story, and this theme certainly continues in The Forbidden Promise. I devoured the book in one sitting, absolutely consumed by the romance of the story and the beauty of its setting against the backdrop of the Scottish highlands.

Combining history, mystery and romance, The Forbidden Promise is the perfect escapism read for this difficult time of self isolation.
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I was given a copy of The forbidden promise by Lorna Cook in exchange for an honest review. This is the first book by Lorna I have read it being her second book written. I loved the book and hope Lorna goes on to write many more books in the future.
The story is set in 2020 and in 1940 in Scotland at Invormoray house. In 2020 Kate arrives at the house to help Liz and her son James turn it into bed and breakfast. Kate doesn't get of to a good start with James but as the story progresses it's clear they may have feelings for each other although some what mixed at times. In 1940 Constance runs away from party down to the loch and is the only person yo see a plane land in the water.  Constance helps the pilot out of the water then takes him to the nearby cottage. 
I really enjoyed this story, it was well written and a must read for fans of family sagas. Can't wait to read Lornas next book.
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The present-day story and the historical one are so beautifully interwoven that the reader engages equally with both. I have read some similar stories recently but it is the telling of this story that makes this one stand out.
In the historical story of Constance, the era is perfectly captured as we are thrown into WW2. The contemporary story is just as captivating as we follow Kate's attempts to turn Invermoray house into a luxury B&B. As she delves into Constance's story, the lochs and mountains of Scotland provide a fabulous setting so rich in detail that we can almost breathe in the pine-scented air.
The ending provided the perfect finale to this tale and brought the story to a natural conclusion. A great story that is well crafted.
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Delightful setting, two very interesting time frames and some strong women. Perfect for a good read.

1940 Scotland Invermoray Constance is a young woman, very protected and her parents do not even consider her "working" or doing anything other than to make a good marriage. Slightly antiquated considering that Britain was in the midst of a war and there were lots of women doing extremely good work for the war effort. Not the Mclay's. Mr and Mrs Mclay wanted life to go on as before with as little disturbance to their own.

Fast forward to 2020 and Kate arrives at Invermoray to turn the falling down house into a presentable B&B so that at least it can remain in the family and be a haven for James who now lives there with his mum. James has mixed reactions to Kate's arrival which he views with slight disbelief in her capabilities, much to Kate's dismay. She was hoping that the six months away from London will give her balance in her life. She soons becomes intrigued in the inconsistencies found in the McLay family and digging into past history unravels so many mysteries which were not known before.

The story told in the two time frames was fascinating. Scotland during the war and the attitudes of the rich as against the suffering of most Londoners and then present day Scotland as well.

Romance, history, lots of intrigue all threaded through this story.
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This story was told with alternating time lines - 1940 and 2020. 

Constance is 21 years old when she sees a plane crash into the loch near her home. She keeps the pilot hidden but, of course, inevitably he is discovered. The fall-out of that lasts for years and has huge consequences for everyone. It is 1940, a tricky time to be keeping secrets....

Kate comes to Invermoray House in 2020 to help the owners with their business plan of turning the house into an upmarket guest house. She wonders about the mystery that surrounds Constance and her brother Douglas and she isn't going to let a grumpy James get in the way of doing some sleuthing. She enjoys the Scottish countryside - miles away from the crowded London that she is used to. 

I enjoyed the 1940's timeline the most. I think the modern-day one didn't quite hit the mark although I loved Kate's friendships with some of the villagers.

I give this book 4 stars.

Thank you to NetGalley and Avon for the read. My apologies for taking so long to review.
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So I’m a sucker for dual narratives. And I’m a sucker for books set in my neck of the woods, Scotland, especially the more remote areas of the country. So The Forbidden Promise was a shoe in before I even opened the first page. My expectations were high. Thankfully, I was not disappointed. This is a cracking read. I was engrossed from page one and the book clung to me until the final page. The dual narrative works really well with the plot bouncing easily between both time periods. I kept wondering how Constance’s story in 1940 could possibly be linked to events in 2019. I had several theories and was delighted to be completely wrong. I loved the way the author drips feeds you the story and the links to the past, one delicious spoonful at a time.
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Two stories, two women  in two different time periods. This is a story that starts in 1940 in Scotland. Constance is sitting by the Loch when she hears what she thinks is a Spitfire plane with engine trouble. The plane goes down and Constance swims out to rescue the pilot. She gets him to shore and takes him to a little carriage house on the property... And from there her story begins. 

In 2020 Scotland, Kate is on her way to Invermoray House for a new job to help the house attract more visitors. She is looking for something different in her life. 

At the start of this book, I wondered how the author was going to be able to tie both stories together but she did it masterfully! What she has created is a wonderful story full of secrets, betrayal, love and best of all redemption!! 

Thank you to Avon Books UK and Netgalley for a eARC in exchange for my honest review.
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Kate works in PR. After a rather nasty experience she decides she needs something a bit different & after a telephone interview she sets off to Scotland to Invermory House to assist in setting them up as a bed & breakfast enterprise. However, the son of the house is not welcoming at all!

Switch to 1940. It is Constance's 21st birthday party- not that she is enjoying it very much. When her brother's friend makes extremely unpleasant & unwanted advances she escapes down to the Lochside. When a plane crashes into the water & there is no sign of the pilot she swims in & helps him to shore. The young man is at the end of his rope & she agrees to help him stay at a worker's cottage.

These two timelines work well together & both of them capture the attention. I did feel the present day was a bit too 'Mill's & Boon' but put up with it!!

All in all an enjoyable light read. Thanks to Netgalley & the publishers for letting me read & review this book
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I started reading this book while locked down at home, desperate to live vicariously through the pages of a book, traveling through time and countries.  The Forbidden Promise was exactly what I needed and then some, and I'm so happy I decided to read it when I did.  It was so engaging, flipping back and forth from present day to 1940, in the midst of WWII.  What is it about that time period that draws us?  Is it the sadness of war that you don't want to witness but can't look away from?  Is it the certainty of lost love as soldiers say goodbye to those they hold most dear?  I think for me it is the lessons to be learned and the reminder that humanity exists even in the darkest of times.

2020
Kate is desperate for a new job.  Having left her last position with what felt like a scarlet letter on her coat pocket, innocent though she may be, she needed a fresh start somewhere else.  Arriving at Invermoray House in the middle of nowhere Scotland, things don't start out quite as planned.  The place is eyeballs deep in debt, and Kate doesn't know where to begin with fixing it up for visitors in time to avoid selling.  And then there's the owner's son, gruff on a good day and downright rude on his worst, they don't mix well.  It's a place of renewal for her, but for James, it's his home.
1940
Constance McLay just wants to be useful, but her mother says ladies don't work, even during a war.  During her birthday celebration, Constance escapes to the loch in time to see a small plane crash into her loch.  She saves the pilot, discovering that he is a RAF officer and in desperate need of hiding.  He has no intention of rejoining the war, and Constance finds herself reluctant to see him go.  As they grow closer, the situation becomes more dangerous, because their love is certain to be doomed.  Not only is Constance worried she may not see him again, but the pilot isn't all he seems to be.

I absolutely loved how Lorna Cook wrote this story.  It was so cleanly written, even with the frequent switch between years.  It was easy to follow, and I found myself eager for both stories.  Oftentimes I find myself drawn to one or the other, so I skim one time period.  However, I was thoroughly engaged in both, and I wanted a happy ending for all involved.  There were so many emotions that came up inside me - happiness, disappointment, love, pain.  It's like you're reading about someone who is sitting right next to you.  You feel connected.  Kate and James were a great couples, almost an enemies to lovers story.  I loved their relationship development, because it felt so real and didn't move too fast.  Constance and Matthew were almost instantly connected, a bond forged from a traumatic event but as strong as if they had loved each other for years.  It was magical but also one I knew was going to come crashing down at some point.  It was both inspiring and heartbreaking.

This was my first book by this author, but it certainly won't be my last!  I loved every page.
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After winning critical and reader acclaim with her debut bestseller The Forbidden Village, expectations for award-winning author Lorna Cook’s second novel, The Forbidden Promise were sky-high but this gifted storyteller has not only managed to exceed them, but pen a seamlessly told and wonderfully crafted novel which is impossible to put down and difficult to forget.

In 1940, it is the night of Constance’s twenty-first birthday party. Everybody seems to be having the time of their lives at her twenty-first celebrations – everybody but the birthday girl herself who has not only had to endure the disappointment of discovering how lecherous her beau is, but also finds herself feeling more alone than ever. Unable to bear another moment of her misery in the face of everyone’s jollity and levity, Constance takes a walk by the loch near Invermoray House and finds herself diving into the ice cold water to rescue the Spitfire pilot who has crashed into the lake. Taking the pilot to the ghillie’s house on the estate, Constance thinks that this young man will warm himself up, dry his clothes and send news of his whereabouts to the relevant authorities, but she is shocked to her very core when her new friend makes it perfectly clear that he has no intention of continuing to fight in this war. Vowing to keep him hidden, Constance finds herself torn between duty to her country and her family and keeping a promise that could end up costing her everything and will have repercussions long after the end of the war…

Eighty years later, Kate finds herself in desperate need of a break away from London. The public relations executive has had it up to here with reality TV divas and Z listers who seem to think their transient fame gives them the right to be rude and obnoxious. When her last job ends in disaster, Kate decides to throw caution to the wind and apply for a job in Scotland at Invermoray House which is as far removed from her usual gigs as it is possible to get. However, on her arrival, Kate discovers that she is going to have her work cut out for her when she realises that her new employer’s son is determined to put obstacle after obstacle in her way. Having made it clear from the off that her services are not wanted or needed, Kate wonders just what she has let herself in for – especially when she realises that Invermoray House has a dark and twisted history and plenty of dangerous secrets. When she finds a record of the family’s history with Constance’s name violently scratched out, Kate vows to get to the bottom of this mystery. But is she prepared for what she is about to find? Should some secrets stay dead and buried? Or has the time come for them to come into the light?

A fantastic writer of extraordinary scope and talent, Lorna Cook never fails to dazzle her readers with her intricately plotted, wonderfully atmospheric and immensely poignant timeslip stories. The Forbidden Promise is a captivating and compelling tale set in the 1940s and the present day that beguiles, enthrals and surprises with a brilliant blend of romance, mystery, intrigue and family secrets. Constance and Kate’s stories are both intriguing and emotional and are sure to leave readers on the edge of their seats and glued to the book’s pages.

Written straight from the heart and with plenty of style, assurance and panache, Lorna Cook’s The Forbidden Promise is the perfect book to curl up with and escape into and one which readers will want to read again and again.
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I have been reading a lot of WWII fiction lately, but this is the first one I have read that is set in Scotland. The dual story line, one set in present day and the other set in 1940, the help readers unravel the mystery of Invermoray House.

2020: Kate arrives to help the family turn the house from a crumpling estate house into a bed and breakfast.

1940: After saving a downed pilot on the night of her 21st birthday, Constance must face the realities of war.

While I was immediately drawn into the present day story line, it took me a while to get caught up in Constance's story. I loved the writing style so I feel like this issue was me and not the story. I loved the strong female characters in this novel. Even if some of the big plot reveals could be seen coming I did truly enjoy this book. If you are looking for a new perspective on WWII I highly recommend this book.

Thank you Netgalley and Avon for my advanced copy in exchange for a honest review.
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The Forbidden Promise is the second book from Lorna Cook following on from her brilliant début The Forgotten Village which was published last year. Again the story is told in a duel timeline format and as I am a big fan of this type of writing I was more than pleased to delve into the book. This book is really character driven focusing on two women Constance and Kate separated by many years but who are both seeking something new in life.

August 2019 and Kate is escaping from London after her successful career in PR has come crashing down all thanks to some high powered businessman who spun some lies and made Kate out to be the culprit. Kate is seeking peace and quiet and space for her to rebuild her reputation away from all those who know about the awful situation that unfolded. Her best friend Jenny made her apply for two jobs from away from the city and Kate has been successful in securing a position in Scotland. She has a six month contract to work at Invermoray House which is a beautiful estate surrounded by woodland with a loch at its centre. The loch will go on to play a crucial role in the story for many different reasons. Kate thinks she is there to provide some PR for the house in order for more tourists to visit. On arrival little does she realise any form of visitor or guest is non existent and her first encounter with James Langley does not go to plan either. Liz, his mother, had kept secret the fact that she had employed Kate and this does not go down well at all with James. Clearly, there is a lot more going on than first meets the eye when it comes to Invermoray House and its residents and the same can be said for its past history during the war years as well.

For the majority of the book James came across as being surly, sullen, argumentative and just not open to discussion or new ideas. But underneath it all there was something about him that was vulnerable and that if Kate pushed that little harder he would accept the help she was offering in order to turn the fortunes of the house around. I could see the chemistry developing between the pair but neither of them wanted to give into it. They were both stubborn and there was lots of miscommunication but I felt things went on more of an even keel for them when they started to work as a team to bring their ideas and innovations for the house to fruition. Also as they started to dig back into the past as to what had happened in the year that Constance celebrated her 21st birthday, things got very intriguing.

I loved the chapters set back during 1940 as we get to know Constance. We meet her on the night of her 21st birthday as she flees from the house as unwanted advances from a member of the opposite sex do nothing to make her enjoy the celebrations. As she sits overlooking the loch, she sees something strange and startling and before she knows it she is in the water rescuing a pilot who has been shot down. As his plane sinks into the water, Constance rescues Matthew and with this heroic action Constance's life is changed forever. She takes Matthew to the ghillie's cottage which has been abandoned since he left for war. The events of the night and Matthew himself must remain a secret for Matthew says he does not wish to return to his squadron. Constance is torn between a rock and a hard place, she knows the right thing to do but there is also a part of her who longs to go against convention. She keeps Matthew a secret but at what cost?

Constance was a young woman from a privileged background but she felt stifled by the constraints placed against her. She longs to do her bit for the war but is prevented from doing so by her parents. So in some small way by sheltering and protecting Matthew she believes she is alleviating some of her guilt at not being allowed out into the wider world instead of hiding behind the walls of Invermoray House. Up until now she had been threading water, with no sense of herself but upon rescuing Matthew she finds purpose and feels renewed. The friendship that develops between the pair was slow and steady and you can tell that there is more to come when it comes to matters of the heart. But is Constance just rushing into things for want of some excitement or is this her true calling in life. She put herself in great danger and made plenty of sacrifices but would it ultimately led to danger, loss and disappointment? At times I thought she lost sense of the bigger picture and wasn't truly thinking fully of the consequences of her actions. If Matthew was discovered and Constance's part in it all surely the fallout would be catastrophic.

I loved the element of a character in the present uncovering secrets and mysteries from the past but I felt at times there needed to be more of this. I thought Kate didn't investigate enough as to the background of the family living at Invermoray and why someone seemed to have been written out of said family. Yes she started asking questions but I never felt a really urge from here to dig that little bit deeper to discover just what had happened and why. Towards the end she did get a little spurt under her to seek out old newspapers and to do some online research but I would have loved if this had been constant throughout the book. It just felt that it happened a little bit too late and therefore made the ending slightly rushed. Perhaps another chapter or two focusing on the historical element would have allowed for some more exploration as to what happened to certain characters and why. It read as if too much was being fitted into it in order to answer all the questions and angles that had arisen throughout the course of the story.

All that said this was another very good read from Lorna Cook and I did enjoy the story. I mean that twist in the last few chapters I literally stopped and said oh my God. How could I not have seen that coming? As truly everything you had thought up until that point was turned on its head. Instantly I had changed my opinion of certain characters that perhaps I had put faith and trust in as we got to know them over the course of the story. I know it was wrong to do that but that was my gut reaction and I think many other readers will feel the same. The reason for such a twist was very well explained and justified but it did make me really feel for the main characters as these revelations led to consequences that I couldn't have foreseen occurring.

The last few chapters were startling and tense as a whole range of emotions came rushing to the surface and the fallout for all involved led to heartbreak, devastation, anger and trauma. The reader really runs the gauntlet with the characters and you desperately hope that some form of love, happiness and acceptance can be found in the most desperate of times. I hope Lorna Cook is hard at work on book number three because she has shown she is a fantastic author of historical fiction and deserves lots of success especially with this new book.
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