‘The House on the Hill: A Summer in the Algarve’ by Chris Penhall
Also on the tour today, Chicks, Rogues and Scandals
Layla is calm, in control and is definitely not about to lose her serenity for the man next door!
Surely it can’t be hard to stay peaceful at one of the oldest yoga and mindfulness retreats in the Algarve, surrounded by sea, sun and serenity? Mostly, owner Layla Garcia manages it – with the help of meditation and plenty of camomile tea, of course.
But keeping her grandparents’ legacy alive is stressful, and Layla has become so shackled to the work that, for her, The House on the Hill is fast becoming ‘The Fortress on the Hill’.
Then writer Luke Mackie moves to the villa next door, bringing with him a healthy dose of chaos to disrupt Layla’s plans, plus a painful reminder of a time when she was less-than-serene. But could his influence be just what Layla needs to ‘dance like no-one’s watching’ and have the fun she’s been missing?
In November 2020 I reviewed Chris Penhall’s novel, ‘New Beginnings at the Little House on the Hill’. In that piece, I mentioned that it was Cascais (the novel’s setting) which had inspired a love affair with Portugal which persists to this day.
What I left out, is that the love affair is not with Cascais itself. For me, the beating heart of Portugal is towards the south.
Penhall’s latest novel, ‘The House on the Hill’ – despite having a title which might front a horror movie – is as delightfully sun drenched and light touch as her previous outing.
Layla Garcia is the sort of person who has it all – a beautiful house, a business which is successful(ish) and a boyfriend – but who can’t get through the day without mindfulness and meditation – but meditation which she falls asleep during.
Like so many people, the character is using the trappings of “wellness” and “self-care” to cover up deeper problems which can only be addressed by looking outside you.
Penhall is a writer of charming, sun soaked romances. The characters are realistic, the plots trip along and you can practically smell the scent of Portugal in your nostrils while our heroine learns important life lessons.
I’m not able to get away to my beloved regions of Portugal this year – I shall just have to image myself visiting the House on the Hill instead.
Purchase Link – https://smarturl.it/x4u6oz
Chris Penhall won the 2019 Choc-Lit Search for a Star competition, sponsored by Your Cat Magazine, for her debut novel, ‘The House That Alice Built’. The sequel, ‘New Beginnings at the Little House in the Sun’ was published in August 2020. Both are available in paperback, e-book and audio and are part of the Portuguese Paradise series. ‘Finding Summer Happiness’, which is set in Pembrokeshire in South West Wales is available in e-book, audio and paperback, and ‘The House on the Hill – A Summer in the Algarve’, the third novel in the Portuguese Paradise series, is published in e-book on 28th June 2022.
Chris is an author and freelance radio producer for BBC Local Radio.
She also has her own podcast – ‘The Talking to My Friends About Book Podcasts’ in which she chats to her friends about books. Good title!
Born in Neath in South Wales, she has also lived in London and in Portugal, which is where ‘The House That Alice Built’ is set. It was whilst living in Cascais near Lisbon that she began to dabble in writing fiction, but it was many years later that she was confident enough to start writing her first novel, and many years after that she finally finished it!
A lover of books, music and cats, she is also an enthusiastic salsa dancer, a keen cook, and loves to travel. She is never happier than when she is gazing at the sea.
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