The Garden of Promises and Lies by Paula Brackston is book three in her Found Things series. It’s a little bit romance, a solid dash of historical fiction, and a lot of time traveling hijinks. Our heroine Xanthe Westlake partners with her mother Flora in an antique shop in rural England. As they prepare to add a vintage clothing room, Xanthe finds a wedding dress that seems like a perfect fit.
And if you’ve read the other books in the series (The Little Shop of Found Things and Secrets of the Chocolate House), you’ll recall that certain things “sing” to Xanthe. Yes, she touches things and hears gentle music as well as the occasional voice. The communication always comes from a place and time in the past. And standing in their backyard shed while holding that particular found thing transports Xanthe away from current day.
At first her time travel experiences felt new and quite frightening. But as Brackston explores the stories, the second book brings Xanthe some additional knowledge and resources. As The Garden begins, she’s ready to take charge of her time travel process in an even stronger way. But it wouldn’t be a Brackston story if there wasn’t a villain. And in this case, the villain of Chocolate Shop returns.
The Garden of Promises and Lies is mostly light as a fresh spring day. But it also holds the threat of a violent storm or two. Xanthe is likable, and she finally gets a firmer hold of this talent. Likewise, Brackston moves from the sophomore slump of a second series book to a more settled third installment. I loved seeing our heroine gain more solid footing, despite the slippery aspects of “spinning” time.
Brackston also plays up different supporting characters in this book, which enhances the story. I quite like the friends Xanthe develops in her current time, as well as most of the people she meets in the past. She answers these calls for help from past times because she cares about other humans, even strangers from another time. Seeing people in her time offer support and understanding makes me happy for her.
Categorizing the Found Things series works like this for me: Book one was “fish out of water.” Book two was “annoyingly midway between comfort zones.” And book three is “settled and stronger in her talents.” I look forward to another book in the series. Not the least because of the zinger of a cliff hanger than Brackston throws our way.
Many thanks to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press, and the author for a digital advanced reader’s copy in exchange for this honest review.