Appleby Farm: A Blessing in Disguise: Part 1 by Cathy Bramley

'Welcome home, lass.'

Title - Appleby Farm: A Blessing in Disguise: Part 1
Author - Cathy Bramley
Publication Date - 5th February 2015
Publisher - Transworld
Format - eBook (Self-purchased)
Pages - 88

The blurb

Freya Moorcroft has wild red hair, mischievous green eyes, a warm smile and a heart of gold. She's happy working at the cafe round the corner from Ivy Lane allotments and her romance with her new boyfriend is going well, she thinks, but a part of her still misses the beautiful rolling hills of her Cumbrian childhood home: Appleby Farm. 

Then a phone call out of the blue changes everything...

Freya's beloved Uncle Arthur and Auntie Sue need her help. For the first time in years, Freya is back on the farm feeding the chickens, mucking out the stables, and loving every moment. As her visit comes to an end, she has a decision to make: stay, or go? 

Freya has to follow her heart, but just where does her heart lie?

Becca's thoughts

Eeeeek! I cannot tell you, readers, how bloody lovely it felt to be back within one of the wonderful Cathy Bramley's gorgeous stories. Since reading the complete Ivy Lane story, I've been head over heels in love with Cathy's effortlessly snug and charming writing style, and so, I could not wait to dip my toes into her brand new Appleby Farm series and wriggle them about!

In part 1 of the Appleby Farm series, aptly titled A Blessing in Disguise, Cathy introduces us to her flame-haired, charismatic heroine Freya Moorcroft. The story opens with a comical scene that's taking place in Kingsfield, in Shenton Road Cafe, just around the corner from the lovely Ivy Lane allotments. Feeling so close to Cathy's previous series made me feel, once more, at home within her writing, and it was even better when previous characters cropped up here and there and took me right back to where the magic all began. As the story presses onwards, Freya's first person narrative begins to reveal her story to the readers, and we're told all about how she managed to end up working there, but also where she'd been beforehand. It turned out that Freya, despite seeming to fit right into the setting perfectly, was well-travelled and had actually tried her hand at all manner of jobs, everything from being an apple picker in New Zealand to being a chalet girl in Austria. Reading about Freya's past, which seemed so very real to me, really added a ton of believability to her character. It also emphasised the fact that, even though Freya had travelled all over the place and worked many jobs, there was still only one place that truly held her heart. Appleby Farm, home to her Uncle Arthur and Auntie Sue. 

Cathy gathers a handful of twists and throws them into the plot just as we're getting to grips with Freya's surroundings and circumstances, and I LOVED IT! Before we know it, due to a terrible accident involving her Uncle Arthur, Freya is heading back to Lovedale, back to Appleby Farm, back to lend a helping hand to her loved ones when they most need it. During the Freya's journey back to Appleby Farm, I was so very excited to finally arrive at the place that Freya absolutely adored and held so close to her heart. Cathy's gorgeous, warm descriptions brought the farm to life for me before we'd even arrived. Not only was the farm described picture perfect, but Lovedale itself was incredibly inviting and weirdly, felt familiar, probably that old Cathy Bramley charm! ;) It was as if the author had some sort of magic wand, and with just a tap from that, everything in the scenery was drenched with Cathy's clever wording and unique appeal. Once Freya was back at Appleby Farm, Cathy brought in and introduced a bunch of new characters to my delight, including chickens and horses and two adorable cats! As the story progresses, Cathy brings up the problems that have led Freya back to where she's called home for years, and the story then takes on a life of it's own as Freya attempts to help out in the best way that she can. 

As mentioned above, there is just something effortlessly comforting about Cathy's writing and characters. Her settings are incredibly warm and welcoming, and within just moments of beginning, I felt cocooned and wrapped up in her magical world. The story held me captive right the way through, and I read it completely in about three hours. I couldn't wait to see how Freya would help out, I loved the little quirks that her Auntie and Uncle had like a real family, and I think I, as much as Freya, felt almost joyful at the fact that I was there. 

If ever there was a way to begin a brand new series, then Cathy Bramley cracked it with this one. A Blessing in Disguise has that glittery Bramley spark, for sure, and already, I cannot wait for Part 2, which I just know will fantastic. I cannot fault a single thing about Cathy's writing. It sparkles, it invites, it welcomes you and squeezes ever so tightly. In fact, you feel so wanted and needed within Cathy Bramley's stories, it's very hard to turn the final pages, because you honestly just want more. 

Becca's Books is rating A Blessing in Disguise by Cathy Bramley with FIVE OF MY GORGEOUS CUPCAKES! Roll on Part 2, wahooooo!