A promise for the future. A threat from the past. Can Bel find happiness?
Back in Sydney after her aunt’s death, sixty-five year-old Bel Davison is making plans to sell up her home and business and return to Scotland where she has promised to spend the rest of her life with the enigmatic Scotsman with whom she’s found love. But the reappearance of her ex-husband combined with other unexpected drawbacks turns her life into chaos, leading her to have doubts about the wisdom of her promise. In Scotland, Matt Reid has no such doubts, and although facing challenges of his own, he longs for Bel’s return. But when an unexpected turn of events leads him to question Bel’s sincerity, Matt decides to take a drastic step – the result of which he could never have foreseen. Can this midlife couple find happiness in the face of the challenges life has thrown at them?
After a career in education, Maggie Christensen began writing contemporary women’s fiction portraying mature women facing life-changing situations. Her travels inspire her writing, be it her frequent visits to family in Oregon, USA or her home on Queensland’s beautiful Sunshine Coast. Maggie writes of mature heroines coming to terms with changes in their lives and the heroes worthy of them. From her native Glasgow, Scotland, Maggie was lured by the call ‘Come and teach in the sun’ to Australia,where she worked as a primary school teacher, university lecturer and in educational management. Now living with her husband of thirty years on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, she loves walking on the deserted beach in the early mornings and having coffee by the river on weekends. Her days are spent surrounded by books, either reading or writing them – her idea of heaven! She continues her love of books as a volunteer with her local library where she selects and delivers books to the housebound. A member of Queensland Writer’s Centre, RWA, ALLi, and a local critique group, Maggie enjoys meeting her readers at book signings and library talks. In 2014 she self-published Band of Gold and The Sand Dollar, Book One in the Oregon Coast Series, in 2015, The Dreamcatcher, Book Two in the Oregon Coast Series and Broken Threads, and in 2016, Madeline House, book Three in the Oregon Coast Series
Bel Davison had returned to Sydney after her aunt’s funeral, sorting out the future of Aunt Isobel’s old home before she’d left – following her instructions with the help of Matt Reid, Isobel’s solicitor and now Bel’s future. Bel had promised Matt she’d return to Scotland and his home by Christmas, so selling her home and business was her main priority.
But as one thing after another combined to drag Bel down, she wondered if it would be possible to get it all done. The night she was closing her shop and her ex-husband appeared at the door gave Bel a dreadful shock. She’d been divorced from him for over thirty years – what on earth could he want? But it seemed he wanted a lot…
Matt was missing Bel immensely – he was having some troubles of his own, but his regular skype sessions with Bel kept him sane. As things began to deteriorate in both Australia and Scotland, both Bel and Matt wondered if their future was a pipe dream. Both in their mid to late sixties, they deserved the chance at the happiness they’d found – didn’t they?
Isobel’s Promise is a follow on to The Good Sister by Aussie author Maggie Christensen and I absolutely loved it! I couldn’t put it down, reading until some ridiculous hour last night until it was finished! Historical fiction is one of my favourite genres, and these two of Maggie’s tick all the boxes. Intrigue, drama, heartache, passion, mystery – all combine to make Isobel’s Promise another exceptional tale from a favourite author. I’m really looking forward to the next! Highly recommended.
With thanks to the author for my digital ARC to read and review.
*https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com ‘It was a typical dreich Scottish day’. So begins the return journey with Isobel ‘Bel’ Davison, as we reconnect with her following the turn of events in Maggie Christensen’s previous novel, The Good Sister. Although Isobel’s Promise does intersect with the happenings of Isobel’s Promise, it is a strong novel with contemporary themes that can be read in isolation of its predecessor. In Isobel’s Promise, matters of the heart are high up on the agenda, along with the complexities of modern family life and life commitments. I very much enjoyed being reunited with both the writing of Maggie Christensen and her engaging character set from The Good Sister.
Isobel’s Promise is about the plans we make for our future and how our past can come to haunt us at a time when we are searching for happiness in the latter stages of our life. Bel Davison, the central protagonist of Isobel’s Promise, is a mature age lead. Bel has high hopes of making a go of things in her birthplace of Scotland, with her new love, Matt. However, Bel has a life in Australia to wrap up, including a home and business. She makes a promise to herself and Matt that she will return to Scotland by Christmas, once all her affairs in Australia are sorted. When Bel arrives back in Sydney, her life takes a difficult turn. She must deal with the sudden appearance of her ex husband, contend with business employee difficulties and sell her home. Meanwhile, Matt sits waiting patiently in Scotland. It soon appears that holding a long term relationship on opposite sides of the world is incredibly difficult. Added to the mix are problems caused by Matt’s daughter. Matt is faced with only one decision, it is a tough one that may make or break this couple and their chance at happiness.
Maggie Christensen’s writing is like a nice warm cup of tea. It is warm, nourishing, comforting and embracing. The Good Sister, the book that Isobel’s Promise follows on from was one of my favourite reads last year, so to catch up with Isobel, one of the prime characters from this book, was a welcome experience. Isobel’s Promise proved to be touching and emotionally charged read.
There is a nice even pace to Isobel’s Promise, the momentum continues from the previous story, but the approach Maggie Christensen takes to this book ensures that new readers to her work never feel out of the loop. For me, the pages of this book seemed to turn themselves and before I knew it, I found myself at the close of the book contemplating all that had happened to Bel and Matt, the leads of this story.
Christensen has worked some great plotting into Isobel’s Promise. There were a number of surprises, twists, turns and difficult binds for the main characters, as well as the minor characters that feature in this story to negotiate. It does make them stronger for the experience, which I always appreciate when I grow to care about a set of characters. I will say that there are some questionable decisions and moves being made in this novel, which adds substance to the tale. There were a few smaller scale villains in this tale that really shake things up! I found by the end of the novel, I lost all care for a few of them, I wish they would crawl back into their holes and stay there!
What really worked for me story wise in this novel was the contrast in setting. This is where Maggie Christensen truly shines. She contrasts the dreary skies, green hills and fresh air of Scotland, to the sunny sparkling sands of Australia. I loved a passage in particular that highlights the breathtaking beauty of one of our icons, the Sydney Opera House.
'Bel stopped for a moment, her eyes moving slowly across the stretch of water, the city lights reflected in its glassy surface. Then she looked up at the soaring white shell-like sails of the Opera House mimicking the sails down below and glistening in the moonlight'.
The scenery is simply stunning, whether it be in Australia or Scotland and Christensen ensures that the sense of place is always strong in her novel. Christensen also uses this setting based thread as an opportunity to explore what it means to call somewhere home and the difficult bind one faces in closing off one life for another, on opposites end of the globe. I was satisfied by the end of Bel and Matt’s journey, it was an eventful reading experience.
Maggie Christensen has made it her priority to give a voice to the mature age woman and their experiences in both love and life. This is explored to a high degree in Isobel’s Promise, where we are privy to the pressures of family, past relationships, difficult friendships and winding up careers, which all come into play when settling on a happy ever after late in life. Christensen’s approach is considerate and authentic, proving she is one of the best in the field in the category of mature age Australian women’s fiction.
Readers will be pleased with this offering from Maggie Christensen, especially if you enjoy books written from a mature age perspective that draws on life experiences, difficult decisions, emotions and heartache. Hope, self belief , happiness and the value of life are the positive parting messages of Isobel’s Promise, leaving you with a spring in your step once the final page has been turned.
*I wish to thank the author, Maggie Christensen, for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Isobel’s Promise is book #146 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge
A sequel to The Good Sister, Isobel’s Promise carries on with the story of Bel and Matt which commenced in stunning Scotland where the mountains are towering, the lochs glitter and the woodlands are jungle-like.
Second book in the Scottish Collection.
Jumps between Sydney’s North Shore, Australia and Scotland.
Bel’s story was wonderful and interesting.
Heartwarming, delightful and a little heartbreaking.
This was such a great story, I have not read one of MS Christensen’s books before, so how lucky that I found a new author, the characters in this one are older and so very engaging and easy to love and to make friends with, loved the setting Scotland and Sydney Australia, and with a cast of characters that add so much to the story, this one is a real page turner, so clear the calendar for a day or two.
Bel Davison, has just returned back home to Sydney to sell up her house and business to move back to her birthplace of Scotland and move onto the future with Scotsman Matt Reid who she met and fell in love with on her trip to be with her dying aunt, at sixty five a divorced woman Bel had been leading a very single life and is really looking forward to the future, but of course life throws up obstacles and Bel has a lot of obstacles to leap and this makes her think that maybe a bright and loving future was not part of the bigger plan.
Matt Reid is widowed with two adult married children and three grandchildren a retired solicitor, when working for old Isobel he meets her niece Bel and they just gel so well, Matt now finds that he wants Bel in his future and at sixty seven he is thrilled, but Bel needs to go back to Australia and he needs to convince his daughter that Bel means a lot to him, but otherwise life is looking fabulous, but then things start to overturn in Australia and a trip is necessary, which then leads to a lot of turmoil and uncertainty for Matt and Bel.
Mid -life you would think should be smooth sailing, but for this couple who are so much in love, other matters got in the way and caused a lot of heartache and confusion and unrest, my heart was going out to Bel and Matt both of them are such caring people and deserved so much to be in love and have that happiness and in the end through some tears and smiles they got there so very beautifully, what a story, although I have finished this book Bel and Matt are still very much in my mind and heart. Thank you MS Christensen for a fabulous story, this is one that I highly recommend, and I am looking forward now to reading The Good Sister.
Isobel’s Promise continues the story of Bel Davison, who we first met in The Good Sister. Unlike its predecessor which was a dual time-slip narrative, Isobel’s Promise is entirely contemporary. It picks up pretty much where The Good Sister left off so there’s a nice thread of continuity linking the two novels.
There’s a lot going on for Bel when she returns to Australia with the intent of packing up her life and moving back to Scotland so she can create a future with Matt. It seems that once Bel makes the decision to alter her life, many aspects of it begin to unravel of their own accord. The story moves along at a fairly rapid pace, split between Bel and Matt, with another perspective thrown in, that of Celia, Bel’s new employee who is going through some major changes herself. I haven’t read enough of Maggie’s novels to know what her pattern is, but I’m wondering if the introduction of Celia within this story indicates that Celia will have her own book in the near future. If so, I’ll look forward to that one because Celia’s story held my interest, almost more than Bel’s did, if I’m entirely honest.
There were a couple of characters that really missed the mark for me in this novel. Lou, Bel’s friend, was not a very nice person at all and despite Maggie alluding to the firm history between Lou and Bel, I just wasn’t feeling that connection. Lou had very little to recommend about her and I couldn’t imagine why anyone would have put up with her rudeness for any length of time. Elspeth, Matt’s daughter, was another one that grated on my nerves, but Matt did too when it came to her. She’s a forty year old woman but he seemed to indulge her tantrums as though she were two. Unfortunately, I never warmed to Elspeth, I think she simply wore out her welcome to soon with me, and even after everything played out the way it did, I still couldn’t rouse any sympathy for her. Maybe it’s because she was a similar age to me and I just couldn’t imagine ever acting in such an infantile manner. Matt seemed to despair of her and indulge her in equal measure. He had definitely created a rod for his own back there.
Isobel’s Promise is a solid story and fans of Maggie Christensen will enjoy all it has to offer. For me, I felt it difficult to connect to Bel and I honestly put that down to the age difference, likening it to when I read a novel with a teenager at the helm. The age gap was too vast and I was consequently too removed from her generation to fully appreciate what was going on in her universe. I didn’t encounter this so much when I was reading The Good Sister, but I attribute that to the historical fiction aspect of that particular story. I’ve noted with myself as a reader that I am affected by the ages of characters more when it’s a contemporary read. It’s almost as though as soon as a story is set in the past, things like age and what generation a person is cease to matter. Weird, I know, but what we don’t understand about ourselves we should just accept! Older readers will appreciate Isobel’s Promise, for sure, because I do think Maggie does a fine job at catering for the more mature audience who wants to read about characters experiencing life at a similar stage to themselves.
Thanks is extended to the author for providing me with a copy of Isobel’s Promise for review.
This is the second book and is absolutely wonderful. Bel returns to Australia to tie up loose ends so that she can return to Scotland and the love of her life Matt. But, there are so many obstacles that pop up along the way that could come in the way of Matt and Bel's second chance at happiness. I love Maggie's stories. They always leave me feeling great. Knowing that life doesn't end when you hit a certain age and that love will always be there no matter what age you are. This book is written with such experience and wisdom and gives you hope.
This novel is the continuation of Maggie's Scottish Series that began with A Good Sister. It follows on with the story of Bel who came to Scotland at the request of her dying aunt. There she met Matt who was Aunt Isobel's solicitor and they fell in love. Bel returns to Sydney to sort out her life there as she has a home and a boutique. She promises to return to Scotland for Christmas with the view to moving there permanently. Firstly her assistant at her boutique leaves, and she has to find someone to help her. She meets Celia who was a minor character in The Good Sister who has her own issues to deal with, but helps Bel in the shop. Add to that a blast from the past with her ex-husband turning up on the scene begging Bel to help him. She puts her house on the market and has issues with that as well, Bel starts doubting herself with pressure from 'well meaning' friends. Meanwhile poor Matt is dealing with family pressures himself back in Scotland. This is a wonderful story, I really love Maggie's writing and the way she makes the situations appear so real. I devoured this book in a short time and would highly recommend her books to lovers of family stories and womens fiction. Can't wait for the next one!
How refreshing to have a mature woman on the cover of a novel! In Maggie Christensen's latest book I was instantly reunited with 'old friends' from her previous novels. Isobel's Promise is a sequel to The Good Sister, however it is also a stand alone book. It is a modern story encompassing strong characters. Bel is an independent business woman whilst Matt is a widower who appeared to be a lonely professional man cosseted by his daughter. The inevitable connection between Matt and Bel was apparent from the first few pages with Bel returning to Scotland and reuniting with Matt. Several colloquialisms had me reaching for Google a couple of times giving the reader an insight in to life in Scotland as well as intricate details of our sometimes oppressive, humid summers in Australia. I could so easily relate to the glass of wine outside on a balmy evening in Sydney. Maggie introduced several pivotal characters throughout the book including a troublesome ex husband. The romance between the main characters was fraught with decisions from the beginning of the story, moving along at quite a pace. The ups and downs lead to several surprises, which I will leave the reader to discover. Maggie's eighth novel certainly did not disappoint. I would highly recommend it.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book by Maggie Christensen. Even though this book is the second in a series, I didn't feel like I missed out by not reading the first one. This story picks up with Isobel, or Bel for short, needing to return to Australian to put her affairs in order before returning to Scotland to be with the man she loves. Of course, nothing goes as expected and we get to go along for the ride as Bel tries to figure out if she is going to give up everything she has worked a lifetime to achieve for love. This is not your typical second chance romance, there are twists and turns that keep you guessing until the end.
My only other comment is that the ending seemed rushed and the story ended abruptly. This was completely different then the way the rest of the story was written.
I received a copy of this book and am providing an honest review.
Wow, I loved this book, from the wonderful colourful cover to the fascinating story penned by Australian author Maggie Christensen. How refreshing it was to read a story about older women and their second chance at happiness. Lots of things clicked for me in this book, my husband is a Scotsman who made his home with me in New Zealand so I understand the difficulties of relationships with families across the oceans. He also has emphysema just as Isobel had. We have a daughter named Ailsa, and another called Kirsty , the names chosen by Maggie. The book flowed very well and I found myself reading on turning the pages to see how the story panned out. There were enough twists and turns to keep me gripped and most of the characters were well rounded and good hard working community people. I understand this is the second book in a series but I have not read the first and I did not find that a disadvantage. Anyone who enjoys a family drama will enjoy this to read. I received a digital ARC and thank the author for the gift, it is a pleasure to provide a review and I would certainly be interested in reading more of her work.
Another delightful read from this Queensland author. 65 year old Isobel (Bel) returns to Sydney after her aunt's death in Scotland. While she was there though, she met Matt, fell in love, and returned to Sydney promising to return to Scotland (and Matt) for good after selling her house and business. This promise she made is jeopardized by a number of events ..... is the promise to Matt the only one referred to in the title? What about the appearance of her ex-husband? Her house-mate? How will these affect her decision to move? Why did Matt decide to come to her instead of waiting for her to arrive in Scotland for Christmas as promised? Read this fabulous story to find the answers to these and many more questions.
Home is were the heart is. This second chance romance highlights that despite regrets, fears and second guessing we need to decide what is important to us now and deal with that. No one can change the past but you can change the future. Well written with an outstanding story line and strong characters
Second chances are probably one of lifes scariest things to take. Risking it all on love and hoping you made the right choice. But truly your heart knows and then your head will follow. This is a wonderful story of second chances and family and following your heart. Very heart warming.
I read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book.
I enjoyed reading Isobel's Promise. Why? Because Maggie told of story of love not lust as so many writers do these days. She told of a lady who had thought her life was to be the same as her past but she was wrong. Maggie wrote of Isobel's past, present and future and of a lady with a heart of gold. Thank you Maggie, loved every minute of my time in Isobel's life.
Thoroughly enjoyed Isobel's Promise. The author has the ability to engage the reader from the first sentence until the end. Just loved the story and Maggie's descriptive writing had me engaged from the beginning. A wonderful story and thank you.
Wonderful Twilight Years Romance I love this story! The romance of an older couple, the views of their friends and family about it, the interference of a former spouse create a multi-layered story. This is a full length novel that gets to the root of the emotions of all of the characters. It is quite a character study that I will read again. I received this ARC book for free and voluntarily chose to post my honest review.
Following her Aunt's funeral, Bel returns to Australia to tidy up her affairs so she can return to be with Matt in Scotland for Christmas. There are lots of hurdles to cross, unexpected visitors to deal with, as well as doubts about the future. I am enjoying this fabulous series; it is rare to discover romance stories based on people of a certain age, and these hit the spot.
I know some people doubt the immense appeal for the older reader of a book where characters are at mid-life or beyond and share many of life’s experiences – after all, we were all young once, weren’t we? But it’s just wonderful to open a book and find that you can totally identify with its central characters, recognise their concerns and responses, understand their dilemmas. I loved watching the relationship between Matt and Bel develop in The Good Sister, and took them to my heart – and it was such a pleasure to join them again, although apart for much of the story, as they negotiate life’s obstacles in anticipation of their own happy ending.
No dual timeline in this one, the book follows Bel to her home in Sydney – a home she plans to leave after completing all the practicalities, to follow her heart back to Scotland and Matt. I really enjoyed the unfamiliarity (for me) of the Australian setting, captured in all its colour and detail. Every scene is beautifully described – from the Opera House and harbour to the interior of Isabella’s (Bel’s boutique), and the home she’s grown to love and has now decided to leave. But this isn’t a travelogue – Bel needs to tie up the loose ends of her life, however difficult, and there are so many twists, turns and echoes from the past that make it far more difficult than she ever anticipated. Meanwhile, Matt eagerly awaits her arrival for Christmas – still wrestling with opposition from his daughter, his communications with Bel complicated by distance and time differences. Misunderstandings abound, exacerbated by the interference of others and an unforeseen tragedy – this is such a good story, authentic in all its emotional touches, sometimes frustrating and at times quite heartbreaking.
Bel’s own story is excellent – her friend Lou offering unwelcome advice and observations (I really liked their relationship) as she gets increasingly overwhelmed by everything she needs to handle. And as if selling up the house and the shop aren’t fraught with enough difficulty, new problems continue to cross her path – and her confident determination and belief in her own heartfelt decisions begin to waver. All the characters are so very well drawn – even the unwelcome arrivals – and I really enjoyed the secondary story of the dismantling of a marriage and the support Bel provides while disentangling considerable issues of her own.
This is such a well told story, wrapping you up and moving you through every twist and turn, every practical and emotional moment authentically drawn, characters you really take to your heart. And I must add that this book would be totally comfortably read as a standalone – there’s enough catching up on the earlier story, unobtrusively but perfectly done.
As an older reader, I’d recommend it without reservation – as a reader of an engaging story with strong characters you can really care about and believe in, facing the kind of everyday issues everyone does, believing in the possibility of second chances, my recommendation would be the same. Maggie Christensen can do no wrong for me – I really loved this one.
Isobel’s Promise is the first book I read in 2020. I started it on the evening of January 1st and finished it the next morning. This is one of those “can’t put down” books. I was hooked on the first page. Written beautifully with careful thought to the layout of the story, I soon fell in love with Matt and Isobel, but especially Isobel. She is a strong woman who found the love of her life at the age of 65. She reminds me a lot of my grandmother who seldom had a bad word for anyone and always had an ear to listen to others. Matt lives in Scotland, but Isobel’s home for most of her life is in Australia. She left Scotland as a young woman and wonders if she can return to live there permanently. Her business and the house she loves are in Sidney, Australia. Additionally, there is the matter of Matt’s daughter who is convinced Isobel is out to replace her deceased mother. Can Isobel come between Matt and his daughter and her children? There is so much for Isobel to sort out. This is the first book I’ve read by Maggie Christensen and it won’t be the last. Her characters are engaging, and the story has a few unexpected turns. If you like books about strong women, romance, enjoy coming across a surprise or two as you read, you will love Isobel’s Promise. There is no reason not to give Isobel’s Promise 5 stars.
Isobel's Promise by Maggie Christensen is the sequel to The Good Sister. This second book is certainly a stand-alone read as I did not know there was a first book until I had completed Isobel's Promise. Being 'of an age' myself, I enjoyed the story of a love found later in life. Second chance stories always bring a sense of hope and expectancy to the reader. Bel and Matt's love journey was fraught with struggles and throughout the book, I often wondered if they would ever be together. A resistant adult child, an ex-spouse popping up, the difficulties of selling a house and other conflicts keeps interest high. The characters are strong and vibrant and their emotions and actions are realistically portrayed as they work through their sometimes tangled issues. The author not only looks at a mature love story but touches on real-life situations such as palliative care and death. Through all of her challenges will Bel recognize that she isn't too old after all and realize that home is not just brick and mortar but it can be a person too? You will just have to read the book and find out! I received a complimentary copy of the book and was not required to write a review. The opinions are my own.
I gave this book 4stars. Maggie Christensen writes about an older woman from Australia in Scotland to be with her dying aunt. She meets her aunts solicitor and a friendship turns into love. After Isobel's aunt died and her estate is settled, Isobel and Matt make plans for Isobel to Scotland.Isobel returns to Australia to prepare to sell her house and her business. Some unexpected things come up that Isobel finds herself in a bind. Matt comes to.Australia for a visit,but must leave suddenly because of a family emergency. Bel didn't find the note he left her. It's. It until Matt finally sends Bel an email explaining that his daughter had died after emergency surgery and Bel calling Matt that they make amends and Bel prepares to finally go to Scotland.
I just didn’t find this to be an interesting story! It went on and on about Bel’s dilemma on leaving for Scotland, yet (in my opinion) she wasn’t very proactive in selling her house and especially her business. Taking in her ex-husband, Pete, was particularly annoying. The way Matt stormed off after a simple argument was over reacting, to say the least. His silence once he was back in Scotland was uncharacteristic. In summary, there was too much artificial drama. It didn’t capture me. But the one good aspect, was that the story was about characters in their 60’s. Nice to see!!!
I selected this book because it had a lot of characters in their 60s, its high rating and the fact that it was written by an Australian Women. As I am in that age group, I thought it would appeal to me. I was very disappointed and I struggled to finish. I like strong characters in the books I read and Isobel was anything but, forever wondering about decisions she had to make. No real depth in the characters but instead as Barbara, another reviewer has said ‘Too much artificial drama’. I do not recommend this book for any age group.
"Isobel's Promise" by Maggie Christensen is on Kindle unlimited. This book was recommended by a fellow reader in our blog group and I am very glad I was able to read it. Bel Davison and Matt Reid's story is one of love found between a mature couple. Life has a way of throwing things in their path to happiness. They both have a past, but are working on a future together.
A well-written story about a second chance at love for an older woman and the Scotsman she meets and falls in love with. I am going to be reading the other book that tells more about Isobel and the Aunt's story. I would recommend this book. I received a copy of this book from Hidden Gems and I am voluntarily reviewing it.
This beautifully written story captured my attention from the very first page! The plot was well planned and the well detailed characters made it feel like I was being drawn deeper and deeper into their story as it unfolded!
This was genuinely, just a nice story. It was a pleasure to read about an older couple ( in their 60s) finding love again. The story taking place in both Scotland and Australia allowed for some nice description of both locations. I received a free copy of this story in exchange for my review.