I was really looking forward to this third one in the Midnight Sky series and I was not disappointed. The family saga continues with Laura and James finally getting married and launching their new equestrian centre. Maggie and Peter are struggling with their B & B and stroppy daughter Jess, now with her own baby, is making life even more difficult for them. When Jess finally ups and leaves for America, leaving her baby behind, their troubles only can get worse and are not helped by abusive ex-boyfriend, Callum Armstrong and his cronies getting involved in the mix. Meanwhile Laura is desperately trying to get pregnant and is considering IVF but seems unable to talk to James about it. Family relationships are strained to breaking point. Jan Ruth's characterisation is superb as are her descriptions of the North Wales scenery. The book is, naturally, full of horses and dogs, each with their own diverse personalities. I have loved every one of this series. She claims this is the last of the trilogy but I can't help feeling that there could be more to come, perhaps from the younger characters, who she depicts so well. An excellent five star read.
I was looking forward to this - the third book in the Midnight Sky series having read and enjoyed the two earlier ones. I wasn’t disappointed. The main characters, Laura and James, had been through a lot in the first two novels, but the start of Strawberry Sky sees them married and ready to get on with their lives. But now there is a set of new challenges for them to overcome. James is still recovering from the serious injuries he received in the second book and Callum Armstrong, the man believed to be responsible for those injuries, is still around and making his presence felt. James and Laura are also trying to establish a new business at their riding stables and then there’s the matter of Laura, desperate to have a baby but failing to conceive. As in the earlier books, Laura’s sister Maggie and her family also play a major part in the story as their problems continue to impact on both Laura and James. The supporting cast, including Rob the vet, and Laura’s assertive friend Carla, as well as the employees at the stable continue to feature strongly. And there’s a brilliant new addition of a young woman who comes to work at the stables and who has quite an effect on Laura. So there’s plenty to keep the reader turning the pages. As always Jan Ruth’s characters are credible, three-dimensional and fascinating, and the setting of the Welsh mountains and countryside is beautifully drawn. As in the earlier books the healing power of being with horses features strongly too. Yes all the features of a Jan Ruth novel are here - main characters who’ve lived long enough to have significant back-stories, stunning settings, and a satisfying and well-handled plot. All in all a first –class read. Incidentally you don’t have to have read Midnight Sky and Palomino Sky first in order to enjoy Strawberry Sky, but I recommend you do – just for the sheer enjoyment.
Well worth the five star rating everyone is giving this story. Jan's writing is so professional with in-depth insights to her characters and their lives. They are so believable and Jess, the mixed up teenage mum, makes you want to shake her till her teeth rattle but love her through her adolescent trauma too. Maggie and Pete are hard working parents and don't deserve their wayward daughter's determined efforts to derail them. Then there is Ellie, the quiet daughter who needs attention too.
Laura's relationship with James is complex but rooted in a deep love and at last she is married and settled but her desperate need for a child brings its own problems. All of these lives are mixed and jumbled at the melting pot of the riding school where the horses and other animals make the pages come alive with laughter and tears
Well done, Jan, this is another excellent read and I look forward to the next one.
This is the third in the Midnight Sky series, set in North Wales, with a wonderful cast of characters, human and equine. James and Laura, the romantic hero and heroine of the earlier books, finally get married, and their drama revolves around Laura’s desperation to get pregnant, but my sympathy is more with her sister Maggie, less obsessed with colour schemes and more concerned with surviving from day to day, her efforts to run a successful business hamstrung by her hopeless daughter Jess (who I would really like to send to a boot camp for a couple of years), her baby grandson, who she is left to care for, and his monstrous father who is intent on wrecking everyone’s life. Plenty of emotion, plenty of drama, and plenty of satisfaction. A great read.
I loved getting drawn into the lives of these characters again, Laura the let's get it done type and James the exact opposite but complement each other, you can feel James love and understanding of the horses in his charge, Maggie, Laura's sister and her husband Peter going through a hard time their nightmare daughter Jess who you really want to throttle. Rob the vet came into his own in this book and a good friend to have even if he is a bit of a hothead at times. Always love how the author describes the scenery of North Wales you get the feeling of knowing so well even if you have never been there. Really would love one more book with this lot in it. A great read, well recommended .
Another fabulous read from this author - great writing (... you actually forget you're reading and just 'see' the action). Please hurry and get the next instalment written Jan Ruth - I can't wait to hear what happens next.
The third in the Midnight Sky trilogy, Strawberry Sky continues James and Laura’s story. Despite the terrible life changing accident James suffered several months previously, things are at last looking up for the two of them, despite Laura’s overwhelming desire to be a mother. Work is progressing on the house and the business is expanding, with the addition of a young, orphaned Carneddau strawberry roan and a newcomer to the team with whom Laura develops an affinity.
Laura’s sister, Maggie and her husband, Pete, are having a rough time. The B&B is not doing well and their troublesome daughter, Jess, continues to cause problems and heartache for her parents, as well as for Laura and James. The other complication in the shattering situation Maggie and Pete find themselves in is Cal Armstrong, Jess’s former boyfriend and the father of her baby. Jess’s selfishness and seeming lack of connection to baby Krystal is an endless worry for Maggie and Pete and the pressure is building.
Again, I was drawn in to the lives of some of my favourite sympathetic and relatable characters, along with their emotions, frustrations and traumas. It was great to be reunited with them. James and Laura are compelling and credible protagonists, their situation very realistic. The story is told alternately from Laura and Maggie’s perspectives, neither of their lives exactly unfolding as expected or wished for. They’re all still being buffeted in the wake of storm Jess and their troubles are far from over. Maggie’s hit and miss approach and lack of resolve doesn’t help anyone, including herself. As for Laura and James, they have a strong, loving relationship but fate hasn’t finished with them yet.
A lovely story thread relates to equine therapy. Ex-serviceman Mick, who suffers from PTSD and the resulting disorders, is terrified of horses, has a high level of anxiety and loss of self-esteem. How the therapy works is amazing.
The twists and merging of the threads to their conclusion are in keeping with real life situations. A surprise towards the end is typical of that particular character although I didn’t see it coming. Jan Ruth combines vivid and fully formed characters with expressive writing, a stunning backdrop and a dramatic story line which really did keep me turning the pages.
I chose to read and review Strawberry Sky based on a digital advance copy of the book supplied by the author/publisher.
After the momentous events in Palomino Sky, the previous book of this heart-breaking trilogy, the opening paragraphs of Strawberry Sky promise contentment at last for Laura and James as they complete the improvements to their equestrian business and plan a happy life together. However, the continued disruption to their lives by Laura’s niece, Jess, and her erstwhile partner, Callum Armstrong, keeps them on an emotional roller coaster.
This time the story is told in turn from the point of view of Laura and her sister, Maggie. Maggie is in torment over Jess’s lack of affection for her daughter Kristle, and her anxiety over the success of the B & B she is running with her husband Pete, is causing her to neglect her younger daughter, Ellie. Meanwhile, Laura is anxiously hoping, each month, that she will become pregnant.
Rob, the local vet, has added a strawberry roan to the stable, a very young Carneddau colt whose mother has been killed on the mountain road and James selects a new young member of staff, who becomes increasingly important to Laura. The rest of their team remain cheerfully supportive and client, Carla, is a good friend when Laura most needs one.
Despite trying events, the relationship between James and Laura remains strong, as Jan Ruth shows in comments such as, “James caught her eye. He shot her a smile, a real smile that crinkled the corners of his eyes.” The healing effect of the horses is still a major part of the work James does and we see this especially in the reactions of a tough ex-soldier who comes regularly to help at the farm.
Effective descriptions of the countryside provide a vivid context without departing from the nail-biting events of the plot. The setting of the Carneddau and its wild horses provide both the heart and the pain of this novel and it is the response of those who come from this area which makes the conclusion perfect.
With thanks for ARC copy for which I have given an unbiased review