Book Review: The Winter Cottage

Find out if Rilla and Lachlan’s secrets will spoil their romance in ‘The Winter Cottage’, the first Applemore book by Rachael Lucas

Front cover of The Winter Cottage by Rachael Lucas set against a white background with a mug of coffee and cosy home decor next to it

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I’ve loved Rachael Lucas’ novels ever since I read Sealed with a Kiss almost ten years ago. She has a real gift for writing feel-good novels with relatable characters and glorious settings.

Her latest novel The Winter Cottage opens in October as Rilla Clark travels back to the UK from New England. She’s heading to the village of Applemore in the Scottish Highlands to clear her Dad’s cottage after his death. It’s not a task that she’s particularly relishing, but she knows that she needs to do it. And there’s a looming deadline as his lease on the cottage runs out on New Year’s Eve. 

The cottage is in the grounds of Applemore House, which Lachlan Fraser and his three sisters are trying to keep afloat after their own Dad’s death left them with a large inheritance tax bill. Rilla and her sister used to play with the Frasers during the school holidays when they were younger. Before long Rilla and Lachlan discover that each had a secret crush on the other.

It’s not long before they start a romance but Rilla and Lachlan are both holding back a secret. Rilla doesn’t believe in putting down roots so she’s not planning to hang around after New Year’s Eve. And Lachlan has been putting out feelers to sell Applemore House so that he can clear the family debts.

This story takes place between October and December so it’s not strictly speaking a Christmas novel. But the build up to the festive season plays a major part in the story so I think I’m justified in classing it as a festive read.

I love how Rachael Lucas builds up a picture of the village community and even the supporting characters feel well-rounded. Because The Winter Cottage isn’t just Rilla and Lachlan’s love story. It’s about two families learning about their past and discovering a new future.

The Winter Cottage is the first of three books set in Applemore, and the next book The Flower Farm will focus on Lachlan’s sister Beth.

The blurb:

When Rilla Clark’s long lost father dies, she leaves New England and heads to his cottage in the Scottish Highlands to sort out his affairs. Rilla’s determined that her visit will be a fleeting one. The little village of Applemore holds a lot of memories for her, but looking back might just open up her heart, which she’s kept well-guarded until now.

Lachlan Fraser is less than delighted with his inheritance. He left the grand, crumbling Applemore House as soon as he could, and he can’t see why his three sisters love it so much. Gathered together at their family estate, the battle of wills over what to do with the house is just beginning when into their life walks Rilla, who they haven’t seen for over fifteen years…

Old friendships and long-hidden emotions are rekindled as the romance of a Highland winter works its magic – will Rilla and Lachlan discover that home isn’t a place, but a feeling?

Rachael Lucas has done it again with another heart warming novel – 8.5/10

The Winter Cottage is available now in paperback and Kindle format

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