Note: This ARC was provided by Bold Strokes Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Once the Clouds Have Gone is a contemporary romance novel by KE Payne and brings the story of a young woman returning to a place she stopped considering home and a family that she moved away from. She also returns to a town that would be rich if it could profit on all the gossiping the locals did. Since the death of her mother, she's been trying to find something that she believed to be missing from her life. Maybe what she was looking for was exactly what she left behind in the first place.
Tag Grainger left Balfour, Scotland nine years ago and returns after learning of her father's death. She is confronted by the anger of the brother who had once been the closest person in her life and by the nephew she never forgot but seems to have little to no memories of her. The mill, the center of her late father's life after the death of Tag's mother, and the businesses their father owned are now thrust upon her, with ownership being split between her and her brother, Blair. All Tag wants to do is attend her father's funeral and give Blair her share of Balfour Watermill and Bakery before flying back to London to get back to her life there.
Freddie Metcalfe became her niece Skye's legal guardian after the death of her sister, Laura. Skye has become Freddie's number one priority, creating and maintaining a life for both of them. She's been running the cafe owned by the Grainger family for a few years now but after the death of Adam Grainger, Freddie is as nervous as the rest of the employees, waiting to hear what Adam's prodigal daughter is going to decide to do with the business. After all, this may affect the life she shares with Skye. And then she meets Tag and Freddie's reaction to her is unexpected and leaves her reeling.
Tag and Freddie venture into a friendship that they both need. However, Freddie is hesitant to acknowledge the attraction they seem to both share but one she doesn't necessarily need. Tag recognizes that part of Freddie's hesitation is based on Tag's past actions (i.e. leaving her home and family) and then you have Freddie's own painful experience with an ex-girlfriend who upped and left after deciding she couldn't play parent to Skye. The thing is, I felt that Freddie was giving mixed signals and it took her FOREVER to realize how much Tag cared for her and Skye.
Once the Clouds Have Gone has the romance factor but it was more about Tag's own personal journey, which I actually appreciated. She made choices when she was just 18 that had their own consequences and then she finds herself still at a loss nine years later. She feels the need to prove herself to her brother and his family, the people working at the mill, and Freddie and Skye. Her selfishness at 18 (and really, aren't we all a little selfish in our teens?) is overshadowed by her selflessness at 27. ♥
All in all, Once the Clouds Have Gone is a good read that spotlights the importance of family and that forgiveness and trust are both earned and not given freely. The backdrop of Balfour was beautifully described and makes you want to go and be swept away by the simplicity of it all. Admittedly, I appreciated the book more for Tag's personal story with her family than her relationship with Freddie, mainly because I felt it was rushed and they didn't really have much chemistry for most of the book. Still, it was an overall good story and a lot of the characters were easy to empathize with. I'm giving Once the Clouds Have Gone 3.5 stars. ^.^
Release Date: 14 October 2014
Date read: 18 September 2014
Learn more about author KE Payne here.