Rumour has it that an estate agent has been spotted at Longbridge Hall, and the home of the Fortescue family is up for sale…
When Stella Hutton embarks on a career as an estate agent, she has no idea where it may lead her. She isn’t expecting Long Dansbury, the Hertfordshire village she will grow to love, or Longbridge Hall, the home of the Fortescue family where Lady Lydia Fortescue currently resides. Neither is she expecting Xander, the village’s eligible bachelor who isn’t happy to see Stella. Rumours and sparks are set to fly in Long Dansbury.
Freya North’s twelfth novel centres on single mum Stella, recently divorced and finding herself working as an estate agent after her dream of running an art gallery falls through. Stella is led to Long Dansbury, and the home of formidable Lady Lydia, who appoints Stella to sell Longbridge Hall. Longbridge provides a home for many in Long Dansbury, including Xander who spent his childhood there, and won’t let his secrets and memories be sold.
The budding relationship between Stella and Xander was interesting to read and told in a different way to many other romance novels, written from both Stella’s and Xander’s viewpoint. Stella is gutsy, strong and very likeable, as is Xander. The novel worked best as their relationship started to build. Stella has been hurt before and Xander has closed ranks, vowing not to fall in love again. They each break down barriers after an unsure start, and allow hope for a possible relationship to gather momentum.
Lady Lydia is obstinate, rude, unintentionally funny and quite brilliant, but behind the steeliness, lies a tragedy that has stayed with Lady Lydia and Longbridge. Freya North gives the reader a great impression of Longbridge’s colourful history. Frequently throughout Rumours, I imagined Longbridge’s grandeur, grounds, and statue of Lord Frederick, who had an interesting introduction at the start of the novel.
Lady Lydia and Longbridge remain at the heart of the community in Long Dansbury. North’s depiction of the village and its residents makes it easy to see how the absence of Lady Lydia will affect the villagers. The description of Long Dansbury and the gossip mongering villagers, the Longbridge estate and its history, and other characters like Caroline, put upon Mrs Biggins, Stella’s family and her funny son Will, create a warm hearted novel.
Rumours was an enjoyable and amusing read about love, friendship and family that is sure to set tongues wagging.