When Noelle Cooke inherits a quaint English cottage and an art gallery from her famous Aunt Joy, she welcomes a departure from her San Diego routine.
But the lure of the Cotswolds, combined with a locked cottage room and a revealing journal, entice her to stay and discover more, including a way to save the gallery from financial ruin. And that means remaining in England.
When her childhood sweetheart, Adam Spencer, begins work on a restoration project in Noelle’s village, their friendship blossoms. But as her feelings for Adam deepen, she struggles with memories of what might have been and yearns for a future once thought lost.
Faced with a life-altering revelation Aunt Joy took to her grave and a wrenching choice regarding the man she loves, Noelle could lose far more than her heart.
For a San Diegan who loves England enough to consider moving there, Painting the Moon spoke to me in more than ways than one. I had to Google pictures of the Cotswolds, but once I did, I knew I’d be all over that opportunity if I was Noelle. Noelle is in a dead-end job, although she lives on the beach, so that’s almost a wash. But she has no love life and a jerk of a boss, so not sure the beach house wins out any more. When her great aunt passes away, leaving her entire estate to Noelle, she flies to England to handle the legalities.
The longer she’s in the English countryside, the less she’s in a hurry to return to her mundane job and her dreamy beach house. Her aunt’s cottage with all of its divine charm is a pretty good substitute. But it rains a lot in England, so we’re back to even. Until Noelle discovers a secret stash of never-before-seen paintings by her famous-artist aunt, and suddenly Noelle has more money that she knows what to do with.
Having spent her summers visiting her aunt and grandmother in her teens, Noelle rekindles her childhood friendships with her two best British friends, Jill and her teenage crush, Adam Spencer. Noelle realizes she still has feelings for Adam, but he’s engaged to someone else. Still, the draw of Chilton Crosse is stronger than San Diego and she decides to stay. The story unfolds slowly, like a lazy summer day, as Noelle adapts to her new life, and uncovers more secrets her aunt has kept hidden away for decades.
The main plot is likely the romance between Noelle and Adam, but the mysteries around Aunt Joy are almost neck-and-neck with the romance. The romance is subtle and there is almost zero heat, but there is a sweetness that more than makes up for it.
The author does an incredible job with scene setting. She places the reader in the heart of the small village outside of Bath. It’s easy to picture the sights, hear the sounds, smell the fresh air. She captures a small village atmosphere that feels like something right out of Waking Ned Devine.
The cast is intriguing, everyone from Noelle, the transplanted American, to the town full of eclectic characters, to childhood besties Jill and Adam, and even Aunt Joy, who we only know through her journal entries and paintings. There’s a complexity to each one, even Mac the caretaker, that makes the story come alive in a colorful way.
The writing is fluid and nuanced, painting the scenery with words and placing three-dimension characters in that scenery to act out a layered story. The book seems to straddle the fence between woman’s fiction and literary, never quite landing on either side of that fence, making it unique.
The ending wraps up all loose ends in a satisfactory way, bringing closure to the story in the way you’d close the door of your English countryside cottage at the end of the day and plop down on your favorite couch with a cup of tea. It’s soothing, comforting, and warm.
Top Five Things I enjoyed about Painting the Moon
1. Joy’s Paintings. The story of Joy’s hidden past, revealed through paintings was a clever tool for working in backstory, one I’ve not seen used before.
2. Adam. From unsure teen to rekindled love interest, he has this adorkable vibe about him that I love.
3. Jill. She’s fun, spunky, outgoing, the yin to Noelle’s yang in all the right ways.
4. Mac. There’s so much to love about this affable, yet sometimes cantankerous, Scotsman.
5. Joe’s Pub. This is the quintessential small English countryside village gathering place where everyone really does know your name.
I very much enjoyed Painting the Moon. It was a lazy stroll through a lush field on a warm summer day.
I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
About the Book
Title: Painting the Moon
Series: Chilton Crosse #1
Author: Traci Borum
Release Date: June 7, 2014
Genre: Contemporary Women’s Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon
About the Author
Traci Borum is a writing teacher and native Texan. She’s also an avid reader of women’s fiction, most especially Elin Hilderbrand and Rosamunde Pilcher novels. Since the age of 12, she’s written poetry, short stories, magazine articles, and novels.
Traci also adores all things British. She even owns a British dog (Corgi) and is completely addicted to Masterpiece Theater–must be all those dreamy accents! Aside from having big dreams of getting a book published, it’s the little things that make her the happiest: deep talks with friends, a strong cup of hot chocolate, a hearty game of fetch with her Corgi, and puffy white Texas clouds always reminding her to “look up, slow down, enjoy your life.”
a Rafflecopter giveaway