Who do you trust when you can’t trust yourself?
Following his release from prison, Nathan arrives at Cielo determined to change his life for the better.
After prison, and beating addiction, he has a vision, and he’s discovered a talent, a gift with plants. Max Harrison wants him to create a special garden, The White Terrace, full of scent and white petals, Max wants to die there, his addiction to vodka and grief consuming everything.
Slowly Nathan begins to fall under his spell, Max is full of insight, kindness. His affinity to music and playing Rachmaninov on the piano reduce Nathan to tears of joy. Only underneath the surface, and the seductive surroundings of Cielo, Nathan discovers the other gardeners disappeared. Never to be heard of again.
As he begins to uncover disturbing clues, Nathan must ask himself, just who is Max Harrison? Can he trust him? Can he love him?
The first half of the book gives no clue as to the horror of the second half. It starts out as a story about someone who has been redeemed after a life of drugs and crime. Nathan robbed houses to fund his drug habit and sold drugs on the street. He ended up living on the streets and going to prison numerous times. The book is written from his point of view.
Eventually, Nathan got help and therapy through the prison and his probation officer, and learnt about gardening, which became his life and passion. Then a dream job came his way. His employer is the once famous and extremely wealthy DJ Max Harrison, who is now an alcoholic recluse, living in the massive house he won in a card game. He wants his garden turned into a thing of beauty, particularly the rose garden, which he wants to be all white, so he can die there as if it were ‘heaven’s gate’.
I’m not quite sure how I feel about Nathan or Max or the rest of Max’s family. Everyone feels a bit sorry for themselves, though one can understand why. There’s a lot of negativity going on which Nathan needs to rise above if he’s going to turn his life – and Max’s – around.
I have to be honest, I much preferred the second half. The first half feels like the warm up, setting the scene for what’s about to come. Then suddenly it turned into a murder who dunnit, a thriller. The pace quickened and the excitement grew.
PS The whole DJ thing went right over my head, I’ve never understood the genre, but the idea of listening to someone playing the piano beautifully, ‘That was Rachmaninoff,’ says Max to Nathan, ‘his second concerto, the easy one,’ would be a dream.
Many thanks to @zooloo2008 for inviting me to be part of this blog tour.
Some Words from the Author
“I started writing Cielo in August 2014, it goes like this, I used to live on the North Norfolk coast, and one day cycled past this old mansion, it’s still lived in, it had pony paddocks and turrets and was all old flint (the stone of Norfolk) but with lots of newer additions. The sort of house you saw in earlier Midsomer Murders episodes in fact.
“I thought what could I do with that house, who would live there? So, Cielo was born. I knew I wanted to do a story about someone with addictions (it’s where I worked in the past and the whole homeless issue is so misunderstood). What if? What if an ex addict goes there for a new start to work in the gardens. Who would own a house like that, half decaying, yet round the next corner – pure luxury.
“Nathan was a dream to write, he’s half me, half every hopeless, yet hopeful person I’ve ever met. I knew I had to give him a focus; and gardening seemed perfect. I made him choose gardening as something fresh and new and full of new growth. The roses thing is real, I have Alberic Barbier in my small terrace garden deep in the city of Norwich.
“Max is someone I used to know, how he talks, how he is, the two together took a bit of time, I didn’t want Max to overwhelm Nathan, and first person made that easier for me, rather than both narrating, which they did in the very first draft. Someone I was very close to once was that DJ, but it was making that piano come alive which made the book flow for me. I am not musical, but somehow that while piano and the white garden made everything flow from there.
“The first draft grew through taking part in my first writing course with Dr Stephen Carver, at the Unthank School of Writing. From there Stephen (a reader with TLC) did two manuscript assessments with me and I sent it out on submission, and didn’t get anywhere. I then met Hayley Webster while trying to re-draft Cielo during NaNoWriMo, we met in a café between Cromer and Norwich during a write-in, and she’s been my mentor and saviour ever since.
“Hayley read what was by now my fourth draft and loved it, but suggested subtle changes. I turned that book around in about a month and sent it back and she said it was wonderful, had made her cry and she loved all the food and the flowers and somewhere I knew it was almost right. I sent it out again and ten agents later, nothing.
“It sat on my computer until a few weeks ago, when Hayley suggested I sent it to SpellBound Books. So that’s what I did.
“Since Cielo I’ve written another novel, The Hunt for Delphi, which is currently having yet another edit! I am now outlining my third novel.
“When I am not writing, I am a busy medical secretary at the local hospital working with consultants who look after patients with liver conditions. I have two grown up children, and two grandchildren. My loves in life (since the age of 11 when I read Jane Eyre all the way through), are reading, making up stories about other people, nature, gardening and the joy and pain following my local football team (current state extreme pain).”
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Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cielo-beautifully-evocative-thriller-nothing-ebook/dp/B09Z31HTW7
Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/Cielo-beautifully-evocative-thriller-nothing-ebook/dp/B09Z31HTW7