Can you live on love alone?
Willow Carruthers – British Oscar winner, style icon and mother of three is facing a crisis: she’s broke, discovery of her partner’s infidelity has left her a single mother and, if the banks have their way, she’s about to be homeless.
Meanwhile nanny to Willow’s children Kitty, is desperate to keep her job and knows just the place they can retreat to – her crumbling ancestral home in the Bristol countryside, Middlemist House.
To both women in their hour of need, the idea of leaving LA seems brilliant in theory, until Kitty’s brother Merritt returns home unannounced.
From London to LA, The Perfect Retreat is pure escapism – full of sex, scandal and intrigue.
Having read Kate Forsters ‘The Perfect Location’ I knew that this would be an instant ‘like’ for me. Actually it turned out to be a ‘love’!
Willow Carruthers is our main protagonist and although I wasn’t initially sure if I would warm to her, once I got into the book I found myself rooting for her especially on discovering the nature and character of her rock star (soon to be ex) husband! The author paints a great landscape and picture of the life that Willow and Kerr had together and you feel like you understand fully where they’ve been and where they are at and why. Although Willow seems to ‘have it all’ her life is falling apart, her marriage is over and the bank are threatening to repossess the house.
Kitty is her faithful and dependable nanny, who in all honesty Willow treats like a bit of a slave, just expecting her to be there at all hours and take on the main responsibility for the children. Kitty is comfortable with Willow’s three children more than she is with adults. She loves her job but is slightly daunted at the idea Willow has to home-school them – especially as Lucien doesn’t speak at all.
When Willow is facing homelessness it is Kitty – desperate to keep her job – that suggests they move to England where she is, in fact, joint heir to the family ancestral home Middlemist. Willow is shocked to find that Kitty part owns this amazing grand home which is in a great state of disrepair but which also provides ‘The Perfect Retreat’ they need. What they didn’t anticipate was Kitty’s brother Merritt who is usually off travelling the world, to arrive at the house the same evening and wonder what the heck is going on.
Merritt, who has his own demons having been married and divorced and had his wife cheat on him, is actually quite accommodating, allowing Willow and her three children to stay at Middlemist while Willow starts to find work again and get some money in the bank. A film part followed by a suggestion that Middlemist House would be a great backdrop to the movie that Willow is shooting means the house is suddenly full of film crew, actors and actresses and life starts to take on a few twists and turns for them all.
Merritt is a fabulous character – a typical hero in many ways and I really enjoyed how his character had depth and warmth. There is a real mix of characters and a couple of ‘villain’ style characters along the way that I enjoyed. I also enjoyed seeing Willow change and develop as a person especially in regard to her children, as they seemed to be quite a hindrance and a frustration to her at the beginning and you see their relationship change and gain more depth as Willow changes. The author also deals with a couple of disabilities in the book which I felt were dealt with sensitively and carefully and to me added extra layers and depth as those characters and those that love them dealt with these issues.
As you might guess, there are relationship ups and downs, miscommunications and broken hearts, all set against the backdrop of this fabulous house with it’s own history and secrets which get revealed over time.
Verdict: This has been a great read and one I would heartily recommend. I’m off to see what else Kate Forster has that I haven’t read yet!
Reviewed by Lesley