*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of Netgalley arc The Hostage Heart by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles


My mother is a solid fan of this prolific author and when I saw this offering on Netgalley, I immediately requested it.

Emotionally hurt in the past, a job in a large country house seems to be Emma’s best option for staying single and safe…

When Emma Ruskin becomes governess to 10-year-old Poppy Ackroyd, the haughty Ackroyd family all treat her with contempt – particularly Gavin, the effortlessly superior eldest son. Yet Emma realises that Gavin alone genuinely cares for Poppy and their unexpected rapport flatters and alarms her – surely he is out of her league?

I’ll be honest – when I first requested this one, for some reason that escapes me, I hadn’t appreciated it was a contemporary romance. You don’t have to spend much time on this blog to appreciate that isn’t one of my go-to genres – however, the mistake is entirely mine and there was a period, longer ago than I care to recall, when I regularly read and liked these books. So I summoned up the Ghost of Higbee Past to read this one with unjaundiced eyes – and I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Fortunately, this novel isn’t just about the relationship between Emma and Gavin, or the obstacles that seem to loom between them in the way of miscommunication that tends to cause such havoc in romance novels. There is also a far more sinister aspect to this book and once that plotline kicks off, the whole book nocks up a gear. However even before all that, I found this book had won me over as Harrod-Eagles writes with verve and an enthusiasm for her protagonist that is catching. Emma is fun to be alongside with her dry, often funny observations on her own life and those around her.

This meant that when she is put in danger, I really cared. The head injury she suffered actually properly incapacitated her – a pleasant change in book-based adventures where severe concussion is often shrugged off after a couple of hours’ rest. Having looked after someone in that state, I can testify the effects can linger for weeks and months and no one is in a fit state to continue rampaging around just a day after being struck hard on the head.

The climax to this story had me staying up later than I should to find out what happens next – and although I won’t pretend it was a huge shock, this turned out to be a thoroughly entertaining, well written book that I recommend to fans of romance fans who like a twist of adventure. While I obtained the arc of The Hostage Heart from the publisher via NetGalley, this has in no way influenced my unbiased review.

10 responses »

  1. I definitely need to go back and revisit genres I no longer read from. Books similar to the old Catherine Cookson books which I read avidly back in the 70s when times were so “disturbing” to me and I needed to know that nice people were still “out there”and things DO “work out.” Just as we go through phases in our lives, we go through phases in our reading. Often I feel the need to read out of my usual genres and then I find something as delightful as The Invisible Library which I read because you recommended it! Thank you for keeping me growing as a reader, Dear Friend.

    • I was still flattened by the flu when I picked this one up – and thought I’d struggle with it, but the pages simply turned without any effort. Of course it doesn’t hurt that she is an excellent writer. And I’m aware that I mostly read one particular genre and lack the wide reading scope I used to have – but I love hearing from adventurous readers such as you. Your wide-ranging tastes awe and impress me:))x

  2. Isn’t Cynthia Harrod-Eagles also a mystery writer? I’m pretty sure I have a few of her books that look very un-romance-y though I could be wrong. That might help the read for a non-romance reader. I’m glad you enjoyed this! So often suspense in a romance is so paper thin it’s more of annoyance than anything else but this sounds really well done! I need to look for this one.

    • Yes, she is. I’ve got hold of an arc of her latest mystery book due to come out next February. She has also written an amazing historical saga around a family in England, starting in the reign of William I and ending in the middle of the last century. I haven’t read that – but my mother has all the books and raves about it.

  3. I love the “Ghost of Higbee Past”!
    As for the book itself, it’s definitely not for me. I’m not opposed to romance, but it does need some fantasy or sci-fi flavoring to make it a treat.

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