At the center of Struth’s (Sweet Life
, 2017, etc.) second Sweet Life novel is Willow Armstrong, a woman at a crossroad.
Willow is the founder of the Pound Busters weight-loss franchise (think of a more militant Weight Watchers). Her husband has ditched her and her longtime business adviser has embezzled her personal and company funds, and she falls off the dietary wagon. The “queen of weight loss” gets caught on camera shoving a slice of pizza into her mouth, and her place at the company she founded is in jeopardy. Salvation beckons when Willow goes through an envelope of her late mother’s things and discovers she has inherited a house in England’s Cotswold region. She travels there to escape her scandal, fix up and sell her ancestral home, and get back on her financial feet. Struth cleverly underscores the point that life is what happens while you’re busy making plans. Willow is soon adopted by Owen Hughes, the caretaker of her new property; his young daughter, Jilly; and their dog, Henry, who live in a cottage on the grounds. Naturally she falls for Owen, and soon the people and places of the Cotswold have Willow questioning all that she formerly found important. Struth has created a likably human protagonist. She was the chubby girl denigrated by her ex-model mom and stepfather who found her own well-received method to reach the societal standard of beauty. But Struth shows how, despite fame and fortune, the old insecurities lingered: “Deep inside of her, though, lurked the same person. The one who let dark demons in the pantry lure her to comfort.” Through her leisurely narrative pace, Struth allows the people and places of rural England to work their magic on the uptight Willow.
Another impressive entry in this series featuring strong women in transition.
The breathtaking promise of the English countryside can lift even the heaviest spirits . . .
Willow Armstrong, the once-famous “Queen of Weight Loss” and president of Pound Busters, succumbed to stress eating after her divorce. Now the scandal of getting caught on camera binging on pizza, and the
internet-wide mocking of her new curves, may destroy her career. Add in a business advisor who drained her finances, and Willow is out of options—until she learns she’s inherited a house in England’s most picturesque locale, The Cotswolds.
Willow’s trip across the pond to sell the property and salvage her company soon becomes its own adventure: the house, once owned by grandparents she never met, needs major work. Plus, single dad Owen Hughes, the estate’s resident groundskeeper and owner of a local tour outfit, isn’t thrilled about the idea of leaving . . .
Yet as Willow proceeds with her plans, she’s sidetracked by surprising discoveries about her family’s history--and with Owen’s help, the area’s distinctive attractions. Soon, she’s even retracing her roots—and testing her endurance—amid the region’s natural beauty. And the more she delves into the past, the more clearly she sees herself, her future, and the way home . . .
Praise for Sharon Struth
“Struth has a gift for layering stories within stories while keeping them all connected.”
“Struth is an author to watch!”
—Laura Drake, author of RITA-award winner The Sweet Spot
“Sharon Struth writes a good story about love and loss. She knows her characters and has a path she wants them to take.” —Eye on Romance
“The plot is refreshing and will definitely keep the reader turning page after page.”
Average Customer Review
Based on 4 reviews
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I felt like I had stepped into the pages of a Maeve Binchy book had she written English settings instead of Irish.
(Thursday, April 19, 2018)
Reviewer: Long and Short Reviews
From Long and Short Reviews:
I absolutely loved Willow… I can identify with her on so many levels. I love the way she took control of things. She was a fighter, it stood her in good stead. There were a lot of issues for her to deal with over the course of the book and dealt with them she did. In doing so, she learned a lot about herself and her past she never knew. She was the type of character I felt like I could sit down and have tea with.
The rest of the characters were just as richly drawn. Owen is just scrumptious and could quite easily become one of my favorite male characters. His daughter Jilly (and Henry, her dog) are just fall-in-lovable!
The setting is almost like another character in the book. I’m a not-so-hidden Anglophile anyway, and I felt like I had stepped into the pages of a Maeve Binchy book had she written English settings instead of Irish. I would have loved to live here.
There are no great conflicts in this book, but they aren’t needed. It’s a sweet look at one woman and her life and I stayed up way too late reading it! I was right there rooting for Willow all the time she was trying to find her way, and I was very sorry when the book ended.
I highly recommend this book!
A Novel With Heart and Soul
(Saturday, April 7, 2018)
Reviewer: Terri-lynne Defino (Goodreads Reviewer)
By now, anyone who reads Sharon Struth's novels knows they'll have heart and soul, charming characters who face their obstacles without whinging and whining, and a good dose of romance that sometimes has big bumps, and sometimes little ones. Willow's Way is no exception. The main character's battle with self-image is beautifully done, BELIEVABLY done. For that alone, this book is one to pick up.
But Struth has done that thing she does again--like she brought me to Tuscanny in The Sweet Life, she delivered me to Bath, England in Willow's Way, and dropped me right in the midst of all that beauty and history. AND a Jane Austen festival. The way she weaves locale into the story, as if it's a character in its own right, is amazing. A solid romance with the added bonus of weighty (pun intended!) subject matter and a happily ever after that doesn't rely on "the big misunderstanding" to create tension. And then there's Bath. Complete win!
Terrific Second chance at life novel
(Saturday, April 7, 2018)
Reviewer: Kathleen Gray (Goodreads/Netgalley Reviewer)
Terrific second chance novel- not second chance romance (although there is one), but second chance at self. Willow went through a really rough time with her rat of a husband, problems with her business (hate social media!) , and then she inherited a house in Bath, England and that's where this got good. I loved the Cotswalds setting and the characters Willow meets there, not the least of which are Owen and Jilly. Owen's also struggling. These two dance around each other for a bit and even though you know how this will end the journey is a good one, largely because you see Willow, in particular, grow and emerge from the darkness. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC of this nicely written and enjoyable read.
Read it and discover the Cotswolds
(Saturday, April 7, 2018)
Reviewer: Karen (Netgalley Reviewer)
A very satisfying story about an executive who had a cheating husband and an executive of her company embezzle her money. She finds that her grandparents left her a house in England.
I have been to Bath and the countryside is the most beautiful in the world. The story depicts the beauty in very clever ways. Firstly, Willow meets her ground keeper who is a travel tour operator. Then as the story goes, Willow attempts a 100 mile walk along Cotswold Way.
I loved how strong Willow was when facing such scrutiny in her US operations of "Pound Buster's" and her jerk of ex-husband.
I didn't like how some leeway was given him on his straying during their marriage because she worked "too" much but author uses that perspective to lay blame to her ex's run for govenor....and cheating is cheap...they should of had Frank conversation before cheating, imho.
ARC Netgalley and I wish you'd read it and discover the Cotswolds, even if you can't get there yourself.