A Bittersweet Garden by Caren J. Werlinger #RBRT #BookReview

Cover: A Bittersweet Garden
by Caren J. Werlinger


The author sent me an ARC of this book (mobi format) in exchange for an honest review (member of Rosie’s Book Review Team).

My rating:  ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (five stars)

(by Goodreads)

Nora McNeill has always dreamed of exploring her Irish roots. When she finally gets the opportunity to spend a summer in the village where her grandparents grew up, the experience promises to live up to her very high expectations. Except for the ghost that is haunting her rented cottage and is soon invading her dreams.

Briana Devlin has arranged her life the way she likes it: a good dog, good mates, and work with horses. There’s no room in her life for a relationship. Especially with an annoyingly clumsy—and attractive—American who is only going to be around for a few months.

The weeks fly by, and Nora’s ghost becomes more demanding, seeking her help in solving the mystery surrounding her death. Briana watches as Nora becomes more wrapped up in the past, seeming to fade away before her eyes.

Past and present are on a collision course, leaving Nora and Briana caught in a ghostly intrigue that could cost them not only their chance of a future together, but their very lives.

Genre(s): > Lesbian Fiction
> Lesbian Romance
> LGBT Romance (Books)
Series: n.a.
Length: 310 pages
Release date: 2019-03-01



“Wait!” Nora called out, scrambling over roots and rocks as branches tore at her hair and clothing. Up ahead, only just visible through the trees and underbrush, was a flash of pale yellow, the only color in the forest. Behind her, a woman’s voice wailed in the gloom, calling desperately.

My Opinion

This book introduces you to Nora McNeill, fulfilling her lifelong dream to visit the birthplace of her ancestors.

With “A Bittersweet Garden”, Caren J. Werlinger has created a wonderful story of exploring one’s Irish ancestry, dealing with a ghost, as well as a little history of Ireland and a touch of romance. It is a very enjoyable and compelling read, drawing you in as you learn more about Nora and the other characters. Caren J. Werlinger paints a clear picture of Nora and Briana’s minds while the story evolves. I was drawn very close to Nora – a woman who follows Ireland’s calling, needs to find herself, and has to deal with a strong-willed ghost. The characters are complex, believable with their flaws and virtues; the author’s care for each of them shows. As for the Irish locations – I was thrilled to return to the familiar places – without having to travel for once. The story is very nicely woven and has a wonderful flow.

This is a book for you if you like realistic protagonists, believable and often very likeable characters, Ireland, ghosts, and/or lesbian fiction.


In brief:

Cover ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (five stars)
Writing ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (five stars)
Plot ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (five stars)
Characters ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (five stars)
Mood Suspenseful
Pace Steady
POV Third person – past tense
Language :mrgreen:  (decent enough)
Violence :mrgreen: – 😳  (some mentions)
Sexual content 😳 – 😡  (some scenes with moderate details)


About the author

Caren was raised in Ohio, the oldest of four children. Much of her childhood was spent reading every book she could get her hands on, and crafting her own stories. She was influenced by a diverse array of authors, including Rumer Godden, J.R.R. Tolkien, Ursula Le Guin, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Willa Cather, and the Brontë sisters. She has lived in Virginia for over twenty years where she practices physical therapy, teaches anatomy and lives with her partner and their canine fur-children.

She began writing creatively again several years ago. Her first novel, Looking Through Windows, won a Debut Author award from the Golden Crown Literary Society in 2009. Since then, she has published several more novels, winning three Goldies and multiple Rainbow Awards. She recently completed her first fantasy trilogy, The Dragonmage Saga. “A Bittersweet Garden” is her fourteenth published novel.

Check out her blog: https://cjwerlinger.wordpress.com/


Connect with the author:

Please take a look at my statement on reading in My train of thoughts on …reading.  Now I am asking you.  🙂

My questions for you bibliophiles:
What about you?  What did you think about “A Bittersweet Garden”?  Or – if you did not yet read “A Bittersweet Garden” – are you now interested in reading it yourself?

I am looking forward to reading your comments.  🙂






2017-07 Ireland – Charles Fort – slide show

Dear friends and readers,

please enjoy this year’s Charles Fort impressions.


In brief:

Country – Ireland
Province – Munster
County – Cork

Charles Fort (Irish: Dún Chathail) is a star fort located on the water’s edge, at the southern end of the village of Summer Cove, on Kinsale harbour, County Cork, Ireland. First completed in 1682, Charles Fort was sometimes historically referred to as the “new fort” – to contrast with James’ Fort (the “old fort”) which had been built on the other side of Kinsale harbour before 1607. The fort is now operated as a heritage tourism site by the Heritage Ireland arm of the Office of Public Works.
Charles Fort was built on the site of an earlier stronghold known as Ringcurran Castle. The Ringcurran defences had featured prominently during the Siege of Kinsale in 1601.
With a focus on seaward defence, the landward and inland bastions of the fort are overlooked by higher ground. This weakness was of critical importance when the fort was subject to a 13-day siege in 1690 during the Williamite War in Ireland. John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough (then 1st Earl) besieged Cork and captured Kinsale and its forts. Repairs were made following the siege.
An early lighthouse was established here in the 17th century by Robert Reading, and additional works (including internal citadel defences) were added through the 18th and 19th centuries.

The fort remained in use as a British Army barracks for two hundred years afterwards, before being relinquished by British forces following the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921. The fort fell out of use after being burned by retreating anti-Treaty forces during the Irish Civil War in 1922.

The complex remained largely derelict for some time, but was named a National Monument of Ireland in 1971. Over the coming decades several sections of the fort were restored by the Irish heritage service. Restoration and development of the complex was later taken-over by the Office of Public Works (OPW) – including the development of an exhibition space in the former commander’s quarters. Charles Fort is one of the most visited OPW sites in the region, attracting in excess of 86,000 visitors in 2015.

Peace, coffee, and a cheesecake. ☘


2017-07 Ireland – Ring of Beara – slide show

Dear friends and readers,

please enjoy this year’s Ring of Beara impressions.


In brief:

Beara Peninsula

Country – Ireland
Counties – Kerry, Cork

Beara (Irish: Béarra) or the Beara Peninsula is a peninsula on the south-west coast of Ireland, bounded between the Kenmare “river” (actually a bay) to the north side and Bantry Bay to the south. It has two mountain ranges running down its centre: the Caha Mountains and the Slieve Miskish Mountains. The northern part of the peninsula from Kenmare to near Ardgroom is in County Kerry, while the rest forms the barony of Bear in County Cork.

Beara was the traditional seat of power of the O’Sullivan Beare and was one of the last points of native Irish resistance after the Battle of Kinsale. Allihies, on the tip of Beara, later became major copper mines and featured in the Daphne du Maurier novel ‘Hungry Hill’ also made into a film.

The “Ring of Beara” is a tourist trail for cars which follows the roads for about 148 kilometres (92 mi) circumnavigating the peninsula. It starts in Kenmare, crossing the Healy Pass through Adrigole, passing Castletownbere, Allihies, and turn offs to Dursey Island, Eyeries and Ardgroom, ending in Glengarriff. The area has had a long connection with the sea; Castletownbere is one of Ireland’s largest fishing ports and the largest white fishing port. It has diving, sailing and boating facilities.

The Beara Peninsula forms part of the Wild Atlantic Way.

Peace, coffee, and a cheesecake. ☘

P.S.:  Did you note the traffic sign, and compared the road and the car?  😀


2017-07 Ireland – Gougane Barra – slide show

Dear friends and readers,

please enjoy this year’s Gougane Barra impressions.



In brief:

Country – Ireland
Province – Munster
County – Cork

Gougane Barra (Irish: Guagán Barra, “the rock of Barra”) is a settlement west of Macroom in County Cork, Ireland.

The name Gougane Barra comes from Saint Finbarr, who is said to have built a monastery on an island in the lake nearby during the 6th century. During the times of the Penal Laws, Gougane Barra’s remoteness meant that it became a popular place for the celebration of the Roman Catholic Mass. The nineteenth century oratory which stands near the original monastery is famous for its picturesque location and richly decorated interior and is a popular place for weddings.

The source of the River Lee rises in the hills above the park and flows into Gougane lake. The forest park has 5 km of motor trail and 10 km of hill walks, nature points and vista trails.

Peace, coffee, and a cheesecake. ☘

P.S.:  Did you note the sea snake in the slide show?  😀


2017-07 Ireland – Donkey Sanctuary – slide show

Dear friends and readers,

please enjoy this year’s Donkey Sanctuary impressions.


Donkey Sanctuary:  http://www.thedonkeysanctuary.ie/

I could not resist – I adopted Jacksie for my friend Francesca. She adores donkeys, Jacksie is the perfect match. She gets an update on Jacksie every six months, is happy. I tried to reach her mother on my return, to ‘warn’ her about this special gift. A little later I received a call by her highly thrilled and grateful daughter.  🙂

“You don’t adopt a donkey – they adopt you.” My encounter with the donkeys – especially Jacksie – proves it.


Liscarroll in brief:

Country – Ireland
Province – Munster
County – Cork

Liscarroll (Irish: Lios Cearúill, meaning “Carroll’s ringfort”) is a village in County Cork, Ireland The village is located on the R522 regional road near Mallow and Buttevant about two miles south of River Awbeg.

Peace, coffee, and a cheesecake. ☘