The Secrets of Hawthorn Place

Love will always find a way… Discover the intriguing secrets of Hawthorn Place in this heartfelt dual-time novel, filled with warmth and charm, perfect for fans of Lucinda Riley and Cecelia Ahern.

Two houses, hundreds of miles apart…yet connected always.When life throws Molly Butterfield a curveball, she decides to spend some time with her recently widowed granddad, Wally, at Hawthorn Place, his quirky Victorian house on the Dorset coast.But cosseted Molly struggles to look after herself, never mind her grieving granddad, until the accidental discovery of an identical Art and Crafts house on the Norfolk coast offers her an unexpected purpose, as well as revealing a bewildering mystery.Discovering that both Hawthorn Place and Acacia House were designed by architect Percy Gladwell, Molly uncovers the secret of a love which linked them, so powerful it defied reason.What follows is a summer which will change Molly for ever…

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Author Bio –

Jenni Keer is a history graduate who embarked on a career in contract flooring before settling in the middle of the Suffolk countryside with her antique furniture restorer husband. She has valiantly attempted to master the ancient art of housework but with four teenage boys in the house it remains a mystery. Instead, she spends her time at the keyboard writing commercial women’s fiction to combat the testosterone-fuelled atmosphere, with her number one fan #Blindcat by her side. Much younger in her head than she is on paper, she adores any excuse for fancy-dress and is part of a disco formation dance team.

Jenni is also the author of The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker and The Unexpected Life of Maisie Meadows.

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extract from The Secrets of Hawthorn Place where Percy Gladwell, a renowned Arts and Crafts architect, meets Violet Marston for the first time. He will ultimately be commissioned to design her new country home, but Violet is not initially enamoured of her new architect. The year is 1894.

A pale complexion and a fragile quality, she was straight from a painting at the hand of Waterhouse or Burne-Jones. It was as if the Lady of Shalott had floated downstream and into my life. Wild, flaxen hair barely tamed into submission and an unworldly look that spoke of passion and fire. My mouth went dry and no words came readily to my lips.

‘Mr Gladwell, thank you for agreeing to see me at such short notice. I’ve been looking forward to this meeting,’ she said and proffered a gloved hand, but her eyes did not reflect the sentiment. She withdrew the hand swiftly, almost as soon as it had made contact with my own.

I cleared my throat, offered the usual platitudes and commented on the unseasonal weather, sweeping a hand towards the empty leather button back chair near my desk. She moved her skirts to the side and sat.

‘As my letter stated, I am here to assess your suitability with regard to designing a family home by the coast. I should like to see some examples of your work and to discuss the possibility of a sizeable commission. At this stage I offer no guarantees, as I intend to interview several potential architects.’

‘Certainly. Shall we discuss your requirements?’ I took a sharpened pencil from my drafting board, walked to sit behind my smaller kneehole desk, and pulled a clean sheet of paper towards me. A permanent ridge of black across my fingernails from pencil dust and newsprint made me feel unusually self-conscious.

‘I . . . we . . .’ she corrected, but I’d already noticed the wedding ring as she slid her delicate white gloves off and rested them across her lap, ‘. . . have a plot of land near the sea, on the edge of my father’s estate, and wish to commission a comfortable family residence.’

‘If you could outline what you have in mind? Will it be your primary residence? How do you envisage the appearance and function?’

‘I rather think it is for you to impress me, Mr Gladwell. I am not the architect.’

I shuffled in my seat. I was used to meeting with clients for preliminary discussions, but they were generally excited and enthusiastic about the prospect. She appeared disinterested by the whole thing.

‘Are you aware of my previous work?’ I asked, hoping she had at least apprised herself of my general style, the movement I followed, and its principles.

She shrugged and remained impassive. ‘I was recently at the Bayldons’, which I understand you designed, but I was so taken with the extensive grounds –they have installed a magnificent fountain in the water garden – that I paid the house scant attention.’

The Bayldon residence had been one of my first commissions. A large country house just outside the city of York for James Bayldon, who had made himself a considerable fortune by virtue of the confectionery industry – boiled sweets and chocolate treats. Like many of new money, he was keen to display his wealth and status, and was open to my ideas.

I sucked in a patient breath. ‘Should you have occasion to visit it again, you will notice my preference for simplicity and honesty in both design and materials. Nature is a key element in all my buildings; the addition of motifs and murals to remind us of God’s wonderful creation, and the extensive use of wood and stone in the interiors, which I am not afraid to leave in their natural state. The living world is full of miraculous things that lift the heavy heart and brighten the dullest day. Let us bring the outside in, I say.’

For the first time, she made prolonged eye contact.

‘I did notice the use of an orchid motif in the glazed windows of the drawing room,’ she ventured. ‘It made me smile.’

‘A particular favourite of Mrs Bayldon. She has recently built a spectacular glass conservatory to house her growing collection, I believe.’

She gave a brief nod. ‘So you would use similar motifs in my house?’

‘Mrs Marston, I would use motifs and themes personal to you. If you have a love of windmills or a passion for elephants, then I would include them in your property.’ My grin was not acknowledged, but her interest had been piqued.

We talked briefly of gardens and it was apparent her knowledge was far superior to mine. Until recently, I had relied on the guidance of an old friend of my father’s for the finer points of planting and garden design when it was required, but his eyes were failing now and his mind not as sharp as when I’d known him in my youth. The architectural element of a garden I was confident with, but which bushes might survive in an alkaline soil required more horticultural knowledge than I possessed. However, the subject had engaged the seemingly indifferent Mrs Marston, and I was content with that.

After we’d established her basic requirements, and I’d made some preliminary notes, she thanked me for my time.

‘I must, of course, consult with my husband before this is taken any further.’


She stood to leave but sighed. ‘For a wife must always consult her husband, but it is rarely the other way about. Yet my elderly aunt has the luxury of consulting with no one – a deliberate choice on her part not to marry, which one might consider an enviable position.’ It was said without a smile, merely a raised eyebrow, but I detected a lighter side to the enigmatic Mrs Marston…