Thursday, August 09, 2007


Somehow author Cheryl Reavis has slipped beneath my radar in the past. I don't know how that happened. She's won four RITAs for heaven's sake, which makes her a stellar writer in anyone's book.

Maybe her books have just passed beneath my eye -- something about title or cover that just didn't grab me.

But I've been reading some of the NEXT imprint, now they've made it to the UK -- renamed PRIMA NEW BEGINNINGS. For US readers, it wasn't changed just to be picky, NEXT is a chain store selling clothes and furnishings in the UK.

I freely confess I chose BLACKBERRY WINTER solely on cover and title. It sort of spoke to me in that "buy ME" sort of way. And since I bought it online at the Mills & Boon website, I don't think I even read the blurb. Here's what it says about the book on Cheryl's website.

"Sometimes, just when it seems as though spring is here to stay, the weather turns bleak and cold. It's the time when the wild blackberries bloom and it's the promise of sweet things to come.

"But Maddie Kimball has never told her daughter, Loran, about the "blackberry winters" or anything else about her past. And neither of the Kimball women realizes that old sins can cast very long shadows."

That may be the US book blurb. In the UK it says:

"I am illegitimate. But this was never a problem for me -- it was just me and my mother against the world. Mother never told me much about her past, and after a couple of unanswered questions in childhood, I stopped asking. Now, Mother is sick, and she's decided to revisit the past -- literally -- by taking an unexpected trip to the mountains where she was born.

"I was worried. I was scared. I followed her. And my mother's journey became my journey, too. I discovered that I have a father -- and my parents are still in love. Their life togethr just took a detour that lasted over forty years.

"Their relationship was like a blackberry winter... the colder the weather, the sweeter the berries in spring. And now that I've found the truth, will I have the strength to make it through my own blackberry winter?"

This is what Romantic Times said about when they awarded it the prized TOP PICK:

"...BLACKBERRY WINTER by CHERYL REAVIS is by turns heartbreaking, inspiring, puzzling and thought-provoking. Complex, sympathetic characters tell a wonderful story while working to make sense of their lives."

Here's what I say about it.

I was drawn in by Loran, desperate to get her mother back to the "civilisation" of Arlington, accepting a self-serving man as a partner because love was a mystery that she hadn't cracked, knew nothing about.

I was drawn by Maddie, dying and needing to be home.

There are three men in this story, each of them tugging at these two women in different ways. One is entirely self-centred. The other two are complex, difficult men. Hard, suffering, break-your-heart men. And there's a cast of characters so real that you want to know them. To stay at Lilac Hill and eat Mrs Jenning's scones. To sit with the men who gather beside Poppy's stove. Eat one of Nelda's pies.

I cried through the last fifty pages and discovered something for myself. That the only thing harder than reading through tears, is putting down the book and not reading...


Kate Hardy said...

Liz, I hope you're on commission because you've just sold me a copy :o)

Off to update my order...

PS hope computer troubles are over now x

Liz Fielding said...

No commission, Pam, I promise. I was just drawn in by this book.

And the new computer arrived last night. Andy saved everything on the hard disk, but now I have to replace all the software I use -- and new know how that is. You don't miss it until you need it. And then you can't find it... :)

Anne McAllister said...

Cheryl is a terrific writer, Liz. You can pick up any of her books and get blown away. And she has tremendous range. Enjoy her backlist!