Following a scandal at her high-flying PR agency, twenty-six-year-old Maddie flees London to help promote what she thinks is going to be a luxurious holiday retreat in the countryside. Everything is riding on her making a success of this new job…
Yet when she arrives, Maddie is horrified to find a rundown old farm in a terrible state. The brooding and secretive owner, Seth, spent all his money on leasing the land when he fell in love with the beautiful, dishevelled farm cottages and the very romantic story behind them.
When Maddie discovers an old painting by the original owner’s wife, she unlocks the secret of the farm’s history and quickly realises she must start getting her hands dirty if this very special place is going to have any chance of survival. As she and Seth begin working together, the stunning view from the top of the hill is not the only thing that’s leaving her breathless…
After weeks of hard work the dream looks like it might become a reality, until a secret from Maddie’s past threatens to snatch it all away again. Can Maddie find a way to save the business and herself? Will she finally find a place to keep her heart within the crumbling walls of the little cottage on the hill?
Source: Netgalley and Audible Purchase My Rating: 4½/5 stars
Maddie is about as buttoned up as they come. Despite a scandal that has essentially tanked her professional life in London, Maddie is still a professional and is determined to right her ship. With that in mind, she has driven herself to the back end of nowhere to promote what she has been told is a high-end resort. What Maddie finds when she arrives is quite the opposite of high-end, a surly, quarrelsome landowner, a boss with anger and superiority issues, and a half-baked plan for development that is steeped in history and heartache.
From the moment she steps out of her tiny little sportscar, Maddie’s patience and professionalism are tested, first by two adorable dogs and then by the utterly argumentative and irascible landowner, Seth. Not only was her impending arrival ignored by Seth, but his near-aggression at her presence is aggravating and disconcerting. Maddie’s only concern is resurrecting her career and that means working with surly Seth and addressing the issues related to his land and the promotion of his site. In order to do that, Maddie is simply going to forge ahead with her plans and most assuredly, Seth will see the wisdom of her ideas.
Seth does not see the wisdom of Maddie’s ideas . . . . .
With more anger, aggravation, frustration, and fur (Oh, Lord! There’s a cat too!) than she has ever known, Maddie decides to call it quits, pack her bags, and be done with the likes of Seth and his rundown farm. That is, until she actually sits down and talks to Seth about his vision for the property and stumbles upon the history of the site. What Maddie discovers is a tragic story of loss and love (two, really!) that has played out over many, many decades and still impacts the land’s residents in the present. In fact, Seth (and a few others) are so drawn to the land, so committed to its survival, they’re willing to give everything they have to see the plans and the project succeed.
Maddie figures out, she can continue to fight with Seth or, she can accept the situation as it is and put her considerable skills toward the success of the plan. Seth is a hard man to resist, and the more she learns about him, his past, and his ideas, the more Maddie commits to helping. In fact, the longer Maddie spends with Seth and his motely crew of friends, the more she feels accepted. Acceptance isn’t something Maddie has often felt in her life and she finds it feels better than resurrecting her reputation or maintaining a strict professional persona at all times.
The Bottom Line: From start to finish, The Little Cottage on the Hill is a sweet read about the redemptive qualities of love, friendship, and acceptance. Seth’s little farm has, since the very beginning attracted those in need of help and healing even if those in resident don’t know they’re in need. Maddie only thinks her life is together until she steps onto Seth’s farm. What’s more, Seth and his ragtag gang are all in need of Maddie and just don’t realize it until she arrives and starts making waves in all their lives. One of my favorite parts of this read is the history, the deep history that has continued to shape the present. I’m always a fan of past meets present books, and when you throw a couple of tragic yet uplifting stories into the mix, then I’m hooked. I’m so pleased with this book, and this author, and found this story to be nothing short of uplifting; it’s guaranteed to make you smile. Emma Davies is the queen of the feel good read and I will certainly be lining up for her next offering.