Al is the black sheep of his family, Kate, the good shepherd of hers. Can black and white become silver, or just a dark and dangerous grey?
Alastair Black has revealed a secret to his wife in a last ditch attempt to save his marriage. A return to his childhood family home at Chathill Farm is his only respite, although he is far from welcomed back by brother George.
Kate, recently widowed and increasingly put upon by daughter, sister and mother, feels her life is over at fifty. Until she meets Alastair. He's everything she isn't, but he's a troubled soul, a sad clown of a man with a shady past. When his famous mother leaves an unexpected inheritance, Kate is caught up in the unravelling of his life as Al comes to terms with who he really is.
Is Alastair Black her true soulmate, or should Sleeping Beauty lie?
First an apology to author Jan Ruth for taking so long to read this book. It has been waiting to be read in my kindle for many months.
This is a book with complex family dynamics at its centre and for me, it served as a pleasant break from the murders, blood and gore I usually find in the books I read.
Al's life is in tatters. His financial status, his love life and his family relationships are all in a desperate situation. After a bitter separation, his house has been sold, and not having anywhere else to go he returns to his childhood's farmhouse - Chathall, with his new young girlfriend Jo in tow.
"We were all right until he came back."
But at the farm lives his estranged brother George (with whom he had a massive falling out fifteen years previously) and his family - wife Fran and daughter Becca - together with a thousand or so animals. Needless to say, George is not impressed by his brother's sudden reappearance, but Al has no intention of leaving the place, after all he's the owner of the ramshackle farm as much as his brother is. Fran and Becca, on the other hand, welcome him with open arms.
After a full year grieving her husband's death, Kate finally decides to move on with her life. She goes to spend some days with her sister-in-law, Fran at Chathall farm. There she meets Al for the first time and he's immediately transfixed by the red-haired beauty. But Jo is there with him. Soon Kate finds herself in the middle of a rapidly deteriorating situation. She realises that unknowingly she'd turned up right in the middle of a family crisis.
Why did Al's return stir up so much tension in the farmhouse? Why is George so angry with his brother? What happened fifteen years before? What's the big secret at the heart of the story?
This novel is essentially a love story with a lot of tension, heartache, regrets and twists. It is full of very realistic, flawed, mature characters. I felt as if I've known these persons all my life. With the exception of a couple, I liked them all, especially Al and Kate. Even though at times there was a lot of tension, frequent squabbles and skeletons falling out of wardrobes, I felt part of that family and welcomed at Chathall farm just the same.
I loved the setting of the book. Through her vivid descriptions, the author took me to Snowdonia, a place with unrivaled natural beauty that I now dream to visit one day. I also loved the homely feeling of the crumbling farmhouse, overstaffed with animals, people and junk and clutter lying around everywhere.
I really liked the ending of this book and when I finished it, I felt as if I have lost a bunch of good old friends and I miss them all already!
This was my first book by Jan Ruth and it certainly won't be my last. Though it is not of the genre I usually go for I have to say that I really enjoyed it and I highly recommend it.
Jan Ruth writes contemporary fiction about the darker side of the family dynamic with a generous helping of humour, horses and dogs. Her books blend the serenities of rural life with the headaches of city business, exploring the endless complexities of relationships. ABOUT JAN RUTH:The real story began at school, with prizes for short stories and poetry. She failed all things mathematical and scientific, and to this day struggles to make sense of anything numerical.