Cover Image: The Forbidden Promise

The Forbidden Promise

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Member Reviews

It’s very rare that you pick up a book and within the first few pages you are completely hooked. I fell in love with this straightaway!!

The story is set at Invwemoray House in Scotland over 2 timelines 1940 and 2020. 

In 2020 Kate is employed by Liz and her reluctant son James to help promote their home as a guest house. Kate comes up with a plan to get more tourists, she says there could be a monster in the loch (think that idea has been done before). There is something in the loch but it is definitely not a monster!! Kate soon starts to dig into Liz’s family history and the story of a pilot drowning in the loch.

In 1940 Constance has escaped her 21st birthday party and goes for  a walk, when she sees a Spitfire plane crash into the loch, she jumps in and saves the pilot Mathew who she hides away in a disused Ghillie cottage. They fall in love but he has a secret that will tear them apart. 

I fell in love with this book. I loved how the 2 timelines run parallel to each other but come together at the end. The vivid descriptions made me feel like I was there watching everything happen first hand!!

Beautifully written. A magical blend of history and romance and strong likeable characters, that make this an addictive book that you can fall in love with and will think about long after reading it. 

Thank you to Netgalley for my copy in exchange for a review.
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Second novels can sometimes suffer from sort of 'syndrome' not quite as good as the first, he most difficult to write, sweated over for months and months on end, massive edits and rewrites and never quite reaching the pinnacle of the first novel. 

In the case of The Forbidden Promise this suffers with none of these, though I am unsure if the author suffered any of the aforementioned symptoms. For me this second novel is better than the first (and that was good) and shows a great example of dual time narrative, compelling storylines and wonderfully drawn characters. 

Present day. Invermoray House in Scotland. The current residents of the home, Liz and her son James are struggling to make ends meet and the only way is for the house to be made to pay  its way. A Bed and Breakfast seems a good idea with some typical HIghland pursuits for any guest that might fancy it. 

Kate is famed for her PR skills and that was her previous role in London but when an incident leads her to want to hid from all she knows she takes refuge in a job at Invermoray House. Intrigued by the mystery of the house she does some research to discover a family bible with one of the names crossed out - Constance McLay. 

1920. Invermoray House. Constance McLay's 21st birthday party. War has yet to really touch them so far north, it appears nothing has changed. But war is coming in many forms as young men, including Constance's brother and his friend join up and the estate workers go to fight for their country. 

With the excuse of an headache, Constance escapees her own celebrations and wanders down to the loch. 

There she sees a spitfire, dive and crash into the loch. Instinct kicks in and she saves the pilot and with one sweeping gestures promises to keep him safe in the abandoned ghillies cottage. However Constance finds that this promise is hard to keep. 

As war starts to touch Invermoray House more directly, Constance finds that she is torn between her heart and her head. 

Some eighty years later as Kate tries to find out more about Constance she also finds that her heart and her head are working independently of each other. 

As the plot goes back and forth you start to form a picture of what life was like for Constance and also how it is perceived by Kate, trying to find out more about her, as if you were being told the same story from different perspectives.

What also holds the book up as excellent is the fact the author uses the landscape to be as much of a character as the characters themselves. This adds weight and depth to the plot and kept me hooked as I turned the pages wanting to find out the truth, the secrets, the lies and the promises that were made. 

Lorna Cook is fast becoming an author you need to look out for.
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I'd already read The Forgotten Village and really enjoyed it so was looking forward to this, Lorna Cook's second book.  The first thing I'll say is that it passed all my expectations.  I absolutely loved it!  The story takes place at Invermoray House in Scotland; the imposing home of the McLays which overlooks a loch.  There are two time slip love stories which wrap around each other beautifully.   For Constance McLay, daughter of the house, the night of her birthday party in 1940 will bring unimaginable changes to her life.  For Kate, arriving at Invermoray House eighty years later to help turn a tired old house into a successful business, one of her biggest challenges turns  out to be the owner's son James.

Highly recommended.  Thank you to Netgalley for an ARC of this excellent book.
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Constance is celebrating her 21st birthday in August 1940, at home in Invermoray House, in Scotland. All her parents friends are there, as well as her brother Douglas, and his friend Henry. Constance has grown fond of Henry over the last few months, but is dismayed by his behaviour during the evening. Using a migraine as her excuse, she slips away from the party, going down to the loch to be alone. As she watches, a plane comes down in the water, its engines having died. She can’t see the pilot, who doesn’t appear to have bailed out before the plane sank. She does the only thing she can, rushes to try to rescue him.

80 years later, Kate is on her way up to Invermoray House, to take help turn it into a luxury B&B. Unfortunately on arrival she finds things are in a far worse state than she was led to believe. Her job is normally doing PR when everything else has been done. This time she is going to have to start at the beginning. She also finds that the son of the house, James, was totally unaware of her appointment and makes it very clear that he doesn’t want her there. However, she finds herself pulled into the history and the possibilities of the House. Especially when she finds the family bible, that has all the births of the family handwritten in it. Constances name jumps out at her, as it’s been scored through. After seeing Constances’ portrait hanging the the wall on the staircase, she is more intrigued when she is told that at some point in the past it had been slashed with a knife. 

I enjoyed this book from the first chapter. It is so well written, you can picture exactly how the house looks, the beauty of the scenery and how the characters fit in to it all, it’s a place we would all love to visit, and find it’s just as we imagined. I enjoyed the intermingling  of the two worlds, and a lovely unexpected twist at the end. I didn’t read Lornas first book, but I’m going to, and I look forward to her next one,

Thanks to netgalley and the publishers for a ARC in return for an honest review.
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There are many kinds of promises we can make to one another. This is an amazing story that shows how promises and decisions made by one person can impact many other lives.  The story is told in two time-lines, both in Scotland but one in 1940 and one in 2020.
Constance is a young woman celebrating her 21st birthday at her home, Invermoray House.  After an unwelcome advance by Henry, a friend of her older brother, she goes outside to get some much needed air and space from all the people in the house. She is the only person who sees the plane fall from the sky in to the loch.  She jumps in to help save the pilot.  After his rescue she vows to keep him hidden.  She finds herself in an uncertain situation as she keeps her promise to the pilot at the same time trying to keep her responsibilities to her family.
Kate is hired to help turn Invermoray House into a luxury B&B.  She is surprised to find the amount of work needed to get the Estate ready for visitors.  But when Kate starts to learn of the history of the House she is particularly interested in why Constance has been scratched out of the family bible.  Intrigued by the mystery Kate is determined to open the B&B and discover the truth about what happened to Constance.
This is a very attention-grabbing story that has woven the past and present together to slowly uncover the promise and the cost of the keeping the promise.  Kate is a strong-minded woman and will not let James the son of the owner get under her skin.  The book highlights how the choices made can have unintended consequences. How will understanding Constance story effect Kate?  Will Kate be able to work with James to get Invermoray House to be the luxury B&B she was hired to do?
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I do enjoy a book with a dual timeline and this one was no exception. Set in the highlands of Scotland, I particularly enjoyed the descriptive writing around the loch. 

We have two central female characters. In WW2, Constance is trapped in a life she finds dull. When she rescues a pilot on the night of her 21st birthday, she sets off a chain of events that will change her life forever. Constance and Matthew are likeable characters and while I guessed the twist, it was nicely revealed and well written. 

In the present, Kate is keen to abandon her old life in London to help set up a B&B. I found Kate and James rather infuriating and stereotypical- there were no surprises at all in their character development or arcs. 

This book is concisely written with a decent pace and an interesting story. It’s a shame the two halves of the story aren’t more evenly matched. Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for my copy of this book.
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I enjoyed The Forbidden Promise, the way it was written keeps you interested in both the story from the past involving Constance, and the present situation where Kate finds herself with a job she never expected to be as difficult as it turned out to be.  The beautiful setting is perfect for this type of mystery, giving the atmosphere a haunting quality from what is hidden in it's history.  I love the overall plot, the writing style is smooth and flows easily.  The main characters, Kate and Constance are strong, well developed characters, I felt like Matthew could have been a little more sculpted, at times it felt like his character wasn't as defined as the others, but all in all it's a great book with an entertaining and a beautiful love story.
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Well written stories, essentially two romances; one from 1940 and one present-day, set in an old house in Scotland. 1940 - house occupied by a well-to-do family with two adult children, Douglas and Constance. He's a pilot in the RAF, she's a woman therefore expected to stay at home and do what gentrified ladies do to her annoyance. On her 21st birthday she escapes the party and, sitting by the loch, watches a plane crash into it. She dives in, party frock and all, and rescues the young pilot, takes him to the gillie's  cottage to recover and their story continues until tragedy strikes and she is thrown out of the family - plenty of interesting details to keep the reader going. Present-day and the old house is now occupied by a branch of the family and is failing state shall we say - although what is then done to make it the boutique hotel/visitor experience seems rather little if it was that bad. Widowed Liz runs it and her son James brought back from his job to try to get it back on it's economic feet. She also brings in a London=based PA star, Kate, to help, unbeknownst to James. Naturally sparks fly between James and Kate...... Kate delves a bit into the family history and then gets more involved in trying to find out what happened to Constance as well. This is the more interesting as James/Kate romance is much too predictable and, frankly dull (and, no, wouldn't have been improved by throbbing manhoods or anything!). The stories are well-written though and the coming together, even if predictable, makes a neat ending. A gentle, light enjoyable read. Thanks to NetGalley and Avon Books for an advance copy in exchange for my honest review.
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Many Thanks to Net Galley, Avon Books UK and Lorna Cook for a chance to review this book.

Invermoray House in Scotland, oh how beautifully did the author bring alive the beauty of this place in Scotland. The loch, the mountains, the highland air, never have I wished so much to be physically present and walk in the shoes of the characters.

In  1940, the war is raging on and Constance has escaped the party hosted for her 21st birthday when she sees an aircraft crashing into the loch and she jumps in to save the pilot. She takes the pilot Mathew to the empty ghillie’s cottage in her property where she is requested to keep his presence a secret. Out of the goodness of her heart and fearing his mental stability, Constance agrees to keep the promise which has far reaching repercussions and never imagined consequences.
In the present day 2019, Kate a successful PR has had trouble at her work and to escape the belittling and embarrassment, searches for a new job and gets appointed by Liz the owner of Invermoray House to convert it into a B&B. James, Liz’s son who  is also in the house trying to save the roof from collapsing is not keen about Kate’s presence and is hostile initially.
The story is enchanting and captivating as along with Kate who wonders about the heirs to Invermoray house Constance and her brother Douglas, we can’t help but turn the pages to know about the fateful night in September 1940 and to know what destiny had in store for Mathew. I loved how the author has developed the romance in a slow and sweet manner that one can’t help but fall in love with both the couples. The Invermoray village and its friendly inhabitants induces warmth and there’s a mellow feeling at the end of final chapter in the book.
For all fans of Kate Morton who love dilapidated houses, dual time story lines, with family mysteries and romance should definitely check this book out.Recommended!
#NetGalley #LornaCook #TheForgottenPromise
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Brief synopsis from the book cover:

Scotland, 1940:
War rages across Europe, but Invermoray House is at peace. Until the night of Constance’s twenty-first birthday, when she’s the only person to see a Spitfire crash into the loch. Constance has been longing for adventure – but when she promises to keep the pilot hidden, what will it cost her?

Kate arrives in the Highlands to turn Invermoray into a luxury bed-and-breakfast, only to find that the estate is more troubled than she’d imagined. But when Kate discovers the house has a murky history, with Constance McLay’s name struck from its records, she knows she can’t leave until the mystery is solved…

How will one promise change the fate of two women, decades apart?

My rating:

Plot: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Writing: 4 out of 5 stars
Character development: 4 out of 5 stars
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars

Recommended for readers of:

Women’s fiction
Historical fiction


This is captivating and nicely written story with right amount of mystery. The story is told over two timelines through alternating chapters one set in 2020 and the next in 1940. The timelines are nicely interwoven and concluded at the end of the story. The book is well written and the characters have real human traits, they fall in love, they make mistakes and they hurt. This made them realistic. The story is also set in a beautiful location which is depicted vividly and in great detail this added an additional atmospheric feel to the book.

Overall this is beautifully written book. It has all the ingredients for a great historical fiction novel. It’s captivating with a bit of mystery, it’s set in a stunning location and it has realistic characters. When you finish you can’t help but smile and feel a little sad at the same time because you reached the end of the book.

Review copy provided by NetGalley at no cost to me
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LOVED this book by Lorna Cook.  I could not put this down and the story will stay with me for a long time, I'm sure.  This is my kind of Historical Fiction.

It's WWII and Constance is living in Invermoray House in Scotland.  She feels completely disconnected from the war, even as her brother is sent to fly for the RAF.  Until the evening of her 21st birthday when an airplane crashes into the loch on her family's property.  She promises to help this pilot, but could never understand what that promise will mean for her future.

It's present day Scotland and Kate arrives to help bring this house back to its former glory and help bring it from ruin.  What she discovers, as she escapes a small scandal in England, is beyond anything she could have imagined, to include a grumpy boss, a hidden scandal, and possibly the chance for love.  

"How will one promise change the fate of two women, decades apart?"

I can't wait to go back and read her first book now!

Thank you NetGalley and Avon for an ARC for my honest opinion.
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A wonderful read a book that drew me right in kept me reading late into the night.Characters that came alive highly recommend.#netgalley#avonbooksuk
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Dual timeline book that transitions seamlessly between both stories. Strong characters,  and set among the backdrop of the Scottish Highlands, this is a wonderful tale of love and loss.
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The book was a predictable read with two love stories, one taking place in 1940 and the other in 2020.   Both female characters were struggling with what they wanted from life but found their purpose when they least expected it. For both characters it was love at first sight, which is quite random. There is some mystery to this book but it all gets resolved in the end. Some conflicts but basically a happy ending for most characters.
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This is a book which follows two time periods. In the modern day we have Kate who is just arriving in the Highlands to start a new job promoting the guest house, Invermoray House. We follow her story as she and the owners race to get the house ready for a grand opening against the odds. In the 1940s wartime we follow the story of Constance the bored young woman who is itching to "do her part" in the war effort but prevented by her upper class parents who are still fixated on a good marriage.
The opening of this book focuses on Kate arriving in the Highlands. She has come to take on a job  leaving behind a failed love life. She is lost & struggling to read a map and drive at the same time. Unsurprisingly she has a narrow miss with a young man who is understandably cross. My heart sank when I read this. It is hardly a new plot device - new person (usually female) has accident/incident involving unknown and angry member of the opposite sex who later transpires to be their boss. They then spend half the book being cross & moody before falling in love & living happily ever after. How many times have I read this in a book? Too many.
I didn't give up but I have to say that a majority of the book continued to be similarly predictable. The 1940s thread was a little more original and interesting but nothing sensational. However, there are some good twists at the end of this story which I enjoyed.
In fact the ending of the book was the best and most interesting part although, to be fair it was hardly sensational.
I read & enjoyed Lorna Cook's previous book "The Forgotten Village". It showed much more originality than this book and I felt was generally much better written. I don't feel that this one lived up to that & I am sure that the author can produce a more original work again - at least I hope so!
I received a free copy of this book via Netgalley.
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Loved the dual time line. Stunning book. I was delighted to receive this advanced reader's copy from Netgalley as I loved Lorna's first book, The Forgotten Village. Both stories were beautifully tied together.
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I absolutely loved this book ,the first I have read by this Author and from the first chapter it was very hard to put down ,always a sign of a good read !The story is set in Scotland mainly around a country house called Invermoray,it is set in two timelines which I personally enjoy in a book very much, 1940 and present day .Lorna is celebrating her 21st Birthday with a very grand party at the house when she witnesses a Spitfire crashing into the  Loch she rescues the drowning pilot and takes him to an empty cottage in the grounds secretly .This action changes the lives of her Family and future generations .There was a brilliant twist near the end of the book and the ending was very satisfying .I am now going the read the first book of this Author and look forward to reading more from her in the future .Many thanks to the Publisher ,the Author and NetGalley for my review copy in return for an honest review .
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This was my first book by this author, but I will read her previous book. I love historical romance and also a duel timeframe.

This book contains beautiful description of the Scottish Highlands and Invermoray House with the grounds, the loch and villages. I loved reading Kate’s story and everything that had to do with turning the house into a B&B. 

And then there is Constance story. I was so curious to find out what had happened to her and what events led to her name to be crossed out from the family records. It is a story about a young woman stuck into a life she doesn’t want, with a longing for more.

The ending was satisfying.

I recommend this book.
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An enjoyable double romance as there are two related timelines in the book. Believable characters and a nice plot twist near the end. Recommended.
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Dual narrative historical romantic fiction with both strands set in the idyllic fictional Scottish estate of Invermoray. In the present day, PR whizz, Kate, hastily takes up a new role to revive the flagging fortunes of the crumbling pile as she struggles to rebuild her life following her sudden sacking from a high-flying role in London. Kate meets fierce opposition from the owner’s son, James, and begins to question the wisdom of her decision to leave the bright lights of the city to take on a seemingly impossible task. 

Running parallel to the modern day narrative strand is the story of Constance, who lived in the house during the Second World War and was mysteriously disinherited. On the the eve of her 18th birthday she sees a Spitfire crash into a lake within the grounds of the estate and rescues a  pilot. 

As the story switches between the two timeframes, the stories begin to converge and it was this aspect of the story that I found to be the most compelling. Perfect for fans of Rachel Hore and Lucinda Riley’s ‘The Butterfly Room’. A comforting winter read.
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