Reviewed by Zarina de Ruiter
Holly Swift has always wanted to work at Wickham Hall, the local manor house she's visited for every big event they've held since she was born. So when hears about the opening for events assistant she jumps at the opportunity and does anything within her power to get the job. However, what she hadn't counted on was that actually getting the role wasn't the most tricky part…
When her boss doesn't appear on Holly's first working day to show her the ropes, Holly is thrown into the deep end and has to figure out everything on her own. From big upcoming events to managing the various characters that work in the Manor and even Lady and Lord Fortescue and their son Ben, who never lets down their first encounter, which involves him with his trousers down.
How can Holly manage her job and keep everyone content while also searching for the father she has never known?
With her delightful and heartwarming novels set in diverse locations that I want to move to straight after reading her novels, Cathy Bramley has quickly catapulted herself into my list of favourite authors. Her books always bring a smile to my face, while at the same time being filled with a genuinely good and compelling stories that usually packs an emotional punch too.
Wickham Hall is no exception, and in actual fact I do believe this is my favourite of her novels to date. As soon as I read about Holly I fell in love with this character who was so determined to grab her dream job that even though she may not have been the most experienced candidate, her enthusiasm and passion for the Manor and events propelled her far above any possible competition – and that was inspiring to read.
And despite the many hiccups that Holly faced in her job, not the least the fact that she has no-one guiding her whatsoever when her boss goes missing in action on her first day, she tackled the challenges with a determination and a positivity that many people can learn from. Of course, even Holly faced some obstacles that she couldn't solve just by herself, but because she was such a breath of fresh air in Wickham Hall, she quickly convinces even the most reluctant of new co-workers that she's worth helping out, and that was a heartwarming journey throughout the novel.
It wasn't all about her job, however, and one of the most hilarious encounters at the start turns into quite the unexpected romance. Having read many romantic novels I admit I've become a bit cynical about the main parings, as they're so often predictable and uninspired, but Holly and Ben's journey is anything but; it was fresh, exciting, ridiculously funny, and it was impossible to not fall in love with the two of them together (which I of course dutifully did).
The romance storyline was balanced well by having the Lord and Lady of the Manor involved, and Holly's best friend Esme, so Holly and Ben's story never dominated the novel or became tiring (and there were plenty of hilarious scenes too that broke through the sweetness of the story). And there was of course also the search for Holly's biological father thrown into the mix too, so there was never a dull moment on the page.
Cathy Bramley really has a magic touch for writing instantly likeable characters set in the most idyllic locations, and I want to crawl into her books so I can visit these magical places myself and become instant best friends with her protagonists. Unfortunately I haven't quite managed to figure out how to do this, so instead I relish her words on the paper and recommend you do the same. Wickham Hall is a heartflutteringly lovely and laugh-out-loud story wrapped up in a stunning package, and you definitely don't want to miss out on this one!