Life in the village isn’t always sweet and simple . . .
When single mum Olivia uproots her young son Darcy from their life in Tasmania for a new start in the English Cotswolds, she isn’t exactly expecting a bed of roses – but nor is she prepared for the challenges that life in the picturesque village throws her way.
The Renaissance Project hopes to bring the dwindling community back to life – to welcome migrants from around the world and to boost the failing economy – but not everyone is so pleased about the initiative.
For cake maker Olivia, it’s a chance for Darcy to finally meet his Norwegian father, and for her to trace the last blurry lines on what remains of her family tree.
It’s also an opportunity to move on from the traumatic event that tore her loved ones apart.
After seven years on her own, she has all but given up on romance, until life dishes up some delicious new options she didn’t even know she was craving.
An uplifting and heartwarming story about the moments that change your life forever, human kindness and being true to yourself.
When the three sharp raps sounded on the front door of the cottage, Olivia’s and Darcy’s fingers were coated with butter and flour. It was twenty-four hours since they’d arrived in Stoneden, and the jet lag was knocking them around, but they were keen to get the apple crumble into the oven so they could head out for a leisurely stroll and explore the village’s winding streets.
‘A visitor already?’ Olivia grinned at Darcy and wiped her hands on a tea towel. She hurried along the narrow hallway from the small kitchen to open the front door. It was barely ajar before an angry voice signalled that this might not be a charming English welcome to the neighbourhood after all.
‘Thief,’ the elderly woman accused, her finger pointing directly at Olivia’s chest.
Olivia recoiled in surprise. ‘What?’
‘I saw you from my window,’ the woman hissed, powdered make-up flinting away from her frown lines, her head wrapped tightly in a paisley-patterned scarf.
‘Don’t play the innocent with me. I watched you and that boy of yours stealing my apples. Cleaned up the whole lot, you did.’
Olivia’s jet lagged mind took a moment to process this. ‘But those apples were rotting on the ground.’
‘It’s my right to let my apples rot if I choose,’ the woman said.
‘But they were on our side of the hedgerow.’ Olivia was genuinely confused.
‘What sort of excuse is that?’ The woman tapped the toe of her boot on the stone step. ‘I planted them. I prune them. They’re my apples.’
Olivia took a breath and smiled. ‘Could we start this conversation again?’ She held out her hand. ‘I’m Olivia Kent. My son Darcy and I have just moved here and—’
The woman ignored her outstretched hand. ‘I know who you are. You’re one of the imports brought here by that devil-dealing Renaissance Committee.’ She made a disgusted noise in her throat. ‘They’ve sold you a good story, but you should know that half the village is livid about this and we don’t want you here.’
Olivia turned this information over in her mind. ‘That’s interesting,’ she said, feeling her nose twitch with concern. ‘I’d like to hear more about that. Perhaps we could have a coffee and talk it through sometime in the next few days?’