Wednesday, January 11, 2023



As World War II rages on across England, Bethany Merston’s life is not what she had expected nor is it the life she wanted for herself.  She leaves her destroyed home behind and heads for the Sussex countryside.  Her new job as a companion for Alice Summer, resident of Summerhayes House, is sure to be a challenge for her.  The beauty of the Summerhayes gardens are long gone, but Bethany still finds them to be amazing.  She enjoys strolling through them everyday, and when she meets Lieutenant Jos Kerrigan she realizes that her life is about to change once again.  Bethany has so many questions about the history of Summerhayes House and when she finds an old painting in the attic, she begins to uncover the answers she needed but not necessarily the answers she wanted. 

This fantastic addition to the Summerhayes House series was just as good as the first book.  I was once again transported to the beautiful Sussex countryside and found myself happy to have the escape.  Once again I really enjoyed the characters and also felt a connection to them.  Life during the war was not easy and there was so much loss, so to read a captivating and encouraging story was uplifting.  I really enjoyed the flow of the story, and this book had me hooked from page one.  Thank you Merryn Allingham for a wonderful, well written book that I highly recommend.

Rating: 5 out o


Author:  Merryn Allingham
Published by: Bookouture 
Publication Date: January 11, 2023
Pages: 369 
Buy on Amazon

1944, England. A chance meeting with a soldier unravels a long-buried family mystery…

England is in the devastating grip of World War Two, and 
Bethany Merston’s life changes in an instant when bombs screech down over London. Heartbroken, she leaves the shattered ruins of her home behind. In the Sussex countryside, she takes a job as companion to elderly Alice Summer, mistress of the crumbling and over-grown Summerhayes House.

Its once-pristine grounds are now home to a regiment of soldiers preparing for an invasion across the channel. But Bethany’s wartime experiences mean she can find beauty in broken things, and she is captured by the estate’s magic. When she meets handsome, blue-eyed 
Lieutenant Jos Kerrigan in the gardens one morning, it is clear he has also been captivated by Summerhayes. As their friendship grows, Bethany realises that it’s not just the house she’s falling for…

But something is stirring beneath the surface at Summerhayes… When Bethany discovers that Alice is receiving anonymous letters that have opened up old family wounds, she is determined to find out who is responsible. Convinced that Summerhayes itself holds the key to the mystery, Bethany and Jos explore the grand house together.

The answers lie in a long-forgotten painting in the dusty attic, unravelling the mysteries of the Summer family. And as the truth about Alice’s past comes to light, it has the power to change Bethany’s future.

Will Bethany and Jos’s blossoming love survive the war, or will the secrets of Summerhayes tear them apart?


Merryn taught university literature for many years, and it took a while to pluck up the courage to begin writing herself. Bringing the past to life is a passion and her historical fiction includes Regency romances, wartime sagas and timeslip novels, all of which have a mystery at their heart. As the books have grown darker, it was only a matter of time before she plunged into crime with a cosy crime series set in rural Sussex against the fascinating backdrop of the 1950s.

Merryn lives in a beautiful old town in Sussex with her husband. When she’s not writing, she tries to keep fit with adult ballet classes and plenty of walking.

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