REVIEW: Remember Me at Willoughby Close (Return to Willoughby Close Book 4) by Kate Hewitt
Laura Neale is grieving. A year after her beloved husband’s death, she’s still left with far too many questions and is struggling with feelings of guilt, anger and grief. Hoping to rebuild her and her children’s lives, she moves to Wychwood-on-Lea with her two troubled kids—an eleven-year-old son with too much energy and a fourteen-year-old daughter flirting with the same depression that afflicted her father.
The warm community of women who have lived in Willoughby Close welcome her with open arms, and their friendship helps Laura find a semblance of peace. But when an entirely unexpected attraction to her son’s teacher, James Hill, emerges after he gets into trouble, Laura is gobsmacked. James is charming, funny and ten years younger than her. Basically, completely unsuitable. Besides, her husband Patrick was her soulmate…wasn’t he?
As revelations about everything she once held dear surface, Laura wonders if she is reckless or maybe just brave enough to try for love a second time.
Dear Ms. Hewitt,
The couple who will go through life changes this time are Laura – a recent widow with a teen and tween – and James – who moved to Wychwood to escape a failed relationship. Will Willoughby Close work its magic? For a while, I had my doubts. I mean, I know this is a romance so obviously they will work things out by the end but the process was long and, to be honest, a bit of a slog at times.
Laura’s dealing with a lot. Her marriage was going through a rough patch even before her husband died in a car crash. After selling the house, most of the money went to pay bills and all she can afford is one of the cottages in the Close having moved so that her children would be closer to her in-laws who spoil them and (slightly) condescend towards her. Laura’s put her own undealt with emotions aside in order to be there for her children. Sam is doing okay she thinks but fourteen year old Maggie is alternately stroppy or sullen.
After getting a text message from Sam’s teacher, a panicked Laura heads to school. When she realizes it’s just about a school club Sam wants to start, she relaxes but has to tell James Hill a little bit about why she overreacted as she did. Then she sends a text to her best friend about Sam’s insanely gorgeous teacher only to get a slightly jokey one back from him that he’s not insanely gorgeous. Oops.
James moved to this small “chocolate box” village looking for a new start after a bad relationship ending only to realize that there are very few single women there. Then he meets Laura. But to him, Laura is the gorgeous one. The only problem is that as a mother of one of his pupils, she ought to be off limits. Then when the school needs an emergency substitute assistant teacher, he puts her name up and over the next few weeks they begin to fall into a relationship. But there are road bumps aplenty that are in the way of any HEA – or so they think.
First let me say that I appreciate the depth of the issues facing Laura, her family, and James. There’s grief, loneliness, feeling an outsider from your family, resentment, age differences, communication, in-laws – the list is long. They are dealt with sensitively, people are allowed to have their feelings – which aren’t always sweet or easy to deal with, and time is taken to work things out. Characters talk and cry. They access mental health counselors. Feelings are worked through and eventually progress is made.
Sounds good, right? Except for the fact that all of the conflicts are gone through. And then repeated. And then repeated again. And then shown in the next chapter. And the next one. After a while, it felt as if I were watching endless repeats of the same TV show. At one point Laura thought something to the effect that she hoped James was a patient man. Thankfully he was but I was getting fed up. The repetition slowed the pace to a crawl at times.
There is so much that is lovely about the book and the issues that are tackled. But there was also so much drag. The epilogue initially had me worried that this would be the last we’d see of Willoughby Manor or the Close but there’s a nice rundown of who’s who and how they’re all doing plus an intriguing mystery character appears ready to enter Wychwood-on-Lea. Okay, I’m on for another series. C