The one where I appreciate all the hedgehog love

The final book in the Hedgehog Hollow series – Christmas Miracles at Hedgehog Hollow – was released on 6th September and I’ve been stunned at the speed it has gathered reviews on Amazon because a book set partly at Christmas, with the word ‘Christmas’ in the title and a cover featuring a hedgehog in a Santa hat is something I know that many readers won’t buy/read this far from Christmas.

When book 2, New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow, was released in January 2021, I recorded on a blog post my astonishment at it receiving 100 reviews in a week, 400 reviews by day 19 and 1,000 within 2 months. Book 3, Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow, eclipsed this. At a fortnight it had 300 reviews but it reached a whopping 1,000 on it’s 3-week anniversary. They just kept coming – 700 reviews in the space of one week! I wondered whether any of the other books in the series would top this or had that been the pinnacle?

Christmas Miracles hit 400 reviews on day 12 so it was looking surprisingly good to steal the crown from book 3 but, by day 20, it was at 600 and there was no way another 400 would come in within the space of one day to match the 1,000 at three weeks. And they didn’t. It was another 50, though, which is still phenomenal and something I still can’t believe I’m writing when it used to take months to gather a handful of reviews pre-Boldwood.

So the award for getting to 1,000 reviews in the most unbelievably quick time remains with Family Secrets but I suspect Christmas Miracles is going to get there sooner than New Arrivals did, perhaps in 5 or 6 weeks rather than 2 months.

The quality of reviews has been phenomenal too. As at the three-week anniversary yesterday, a whopping 88% of my reviews were at 5-star and only 3% were 3-star or below. I’m so grateful to everyone who has shown so much love for the hedgehogs. Of course, now that I’ve said that, I’ll get a stack of negative reviews to redress the balance!!!

I’ve had gorgeous messages on my reader Facebook group – Redland’s Readers – and lots of DMs with lovely feedback for this book and the series as a whole which have been so touching.

I had such an enjoyable chat with my editor, Nia Beynon, on Monday in a Facebook Live. We talked all about the series and I did a reading from Christmas Miracles. If you missed it, you can catch up on it here. I couldn’t resist wearing my autumnal hedgehog dress from Popsy Clothing. I also had a hedgehog necklace on and hedgehog earrings (and socks!) but you probably can’t see them on the video. Got to be done!

Please keep that hedgehog love coming. The hedgehogs and I are so very grateful for all your kind words and recommendations. Quick reminder that Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow (book 1) and Chasing Dreams at Hedgehog Hollow (book 5) are on a 99p eBook offer in the UK and one or both are on an equivalent discount in other territories so please spread the word. Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow is also FREE in Prime Reading globally and the audio version is FREE to Audible subscribers as part of the Audible Plus programme. And, finally, ALL my books are FREE on Kindle Unlimited or to borrow via most libraries.

Big hedge-hugs
Jessica xx

The one where it’s audio publication day for Christmas Miracles at Hedgehog Hollow

It’s publication day! Yay! This time it’s still the hedgehogs returning for their sixth instalment but with the audio version.

There isn’t normally a delay between publication formats – releasing a book simultaneously globally in all formats is one of the many amazing things my publisher Boldwood Books do so well. However we needed to have a delay this time around. The fabulous voice actor Emma Swan who has narrated the part of Samantha throughout the series wasn’t available to record the audiobook in time for the 6th September release date due to other commitments. I was given a choice of using a different voice actor or delaying and it was a no-brainer for me. Emma is fantastic and it would be very wrong to change the voice of Samantha on the final book, disorientating listeners and likely getting negative feedback so I held off.

I’m not sure why Audible had a further two-day delay this week to bring out the audio version today instead of Tuesday as planned but the great news is it’s out there now and you can find it on Audible here. I’m delighted to see that it’s already in the Top 500 first thing this morning and should rise higher later today.

Thank you so much to everyone who has been patiently (or perhaps not so patiently!) waiting for the final instalment. I really hope you enjoy listening to Samantha’s final story alongside Fizz’s whose chapters are narrated by Lesley Harcourt.

The Audible Narration add-on for Kindle purchases is also available from today.

Christmas Miracles at Hedgehog Hollow

It’s the countdown to Christmas at Hedgehog Hollow Wildlife Rescue Centre, and everyone is gearing up for a festive season to remember…

It should be the most wonderful time of the year for Samantha and Josh as they prepare for the arrival of their first baby. But life at Hedgehog Hollow rarely goes to plan and the pair are faced with adversaries, old and new, and unexpected challenges to overcome.

Fizz’s job at the heart of the rescue centre is a dream come true but her personal life is more like a nightmare. With her love life a disaster and her past about to dramatically catch up with her, she needs the love and support of her Hedgehog Hollow family more than ever.

As the snow falls over Hedgehog Hollow, will Samantha and Fizz find the Christmas miracle they need to overcome their heartache and find happiness?

Top 10 bestseller Jessica Redland welcomes you back to Hedgehog Hollow this Christmas for the final time in this series for a heartfelt story of love, family, friendship—and hedgehogs of course!

Big hedge-hugs
Jessica xx

The one where I thank everyone involved in the blog tour for Christmas Miracles at Hedgehog Hollow

I took a pause from social media after the tragic news on 8th September of the passing of HM Queen Elizabeth II. It was a day I’ve been dreading and I knew I’d be upset but I wasn’t quite prepared for how upset I actually was. There seem to be many who have felt the same – an outpouring of grief for someone we didn’t know/had never met, yet who somehow felt like a member of the family and will be missed so very much.

With a brand new book published on 6th September, just two days before the Queen’s passing, I’d normally have been all over social media for the next couple of weeks, promoting it and sharing the reviews from my blog tour. On the evening we found out the sad news and on the day that followed, it didn’t feel right doing this. Then the weekend arrived and it still didn’t feel appropriate. There was the procession of the Queen’s coffin on Wednesday – heart breaking to watch – and it felt to me like the only appropriate time to start sharing promotional posts was after the funeral. And even now it doesn’t seem quite right but more of that in a bit.

I stopped looking at social media too. I found the pictures, poems, photos and memories shared became too overwhelming. They were beautiful and poignant but I felt exhausted from crying. Over on Twitter, I couldn’t bear to see so many negative, hateful comments and cruel hashtags trending. It was easier to stay away.

The only posts I made on the socials were to announce the cancellation of my appearance at the Richmond Walking and Book Festival yesterday as it clashed with the funeral, and to remind readers that there were tickets still available for a talk through Stockton Libraries. I’ll share some photos from that in a post soon.

It’s the day after the Queen’s funeral and I am back on social media, even though it feels strange to be here. But this is my job and I need to return to ‘normal’ even though there’s still great sadness.

I feel bad that so many lovely bloggers have kindly shared their reviews on Twitter during the blog tour for Christmas Miracles at Hedgehog Hollow and I haven’t re-tweeted them. I have, however, thanked them on their blog posts… or at least I hope I’ve thanked everyone – no offence meant if I’ve inadvertently missed anyone.

I also feel bad that I haven’t shared news of any other author’s publication days, cover reveals or big successes over the past twelve days. I will be catching up this week. Congratulations to those who have had exciting news recently.

So back to the blog tour, a huge thank you as always to the amazing Rachel Gilbey from Rachel’s Random Resources for organising it. Another whopping 12-day tour with 36 stops, I’ve been thrilled by so many gorgeous reviews. There were three non-posts this time. I know that one of those was a reviewer taking some time out, like me, but I don’t know about the others. They may appear late – some time away while processing the news or perhaps there’s been illness or a family emergency for the bloggers to deal with – or they may not appear at all. To those bloggers, I wish you all the best and am forever grateful that you take the time to read, review and promote my books.

For those who did post their reviews during the tour (which finished on Saturday), thank you so much. There was so much love for this finale and for the series as a whole. There was sadness that the series has come to an end but also excitement to see what I’d write next. No pressure, then! I’ve included a random selection of tour quotes in this blog post.

Have a great week and I have a date for your diary. I was going to be doing a Facebook Live last Friday (16th) talking about the whole of the Hedgehog Hollow series but we decided to delay it and it’ll now be on Monday 26th September at 6pm over on Book and Tonic’s Facebook page. Hope you can join us.

Big hedge-hugs
Jessica xx

The one where it’s publication day for Christmas Miracles at Hedgehog Hollow

The hedgehogs are back for one final outing of the series. Christmas Miracles at Hedgehog Hollow is out today on paperback, hardback, large print and eBook formats. The audio will follow on 20th September.

Yesterday, I wrote a blog post about a publication day wobble I was having. I’d have had one anyway with it being the final book in a much beloved series which many readers don’t want to end, but a particularly cruel 1-star review on NetGalley (an early reviews site) floored me with its personal attack. I have been so overwhelmed with the outpouring of support I’ve received from readers and authors with comments on the blog itself, my Facebook page and direct messages. It has been humbling and uplifting reading all those messages and I’m so grateful.

I had a lovely message of support from Karen Louise Hollis, book reviewer and author, with a great analogy which she’s given me permission to share. A lot of this reviewer’s comments came from her joining a six-book series at book six. She complained about there being too many characters and too much tragedy happening to them. The thing is, the issues explored were across six main characters in six books and 600,000 words. They weren’t all in one book. Karen says, “Of course if someone comes in at the end, they won’t get the most out of it. It’s like turning up to a party late, finding out your mates have already gone home and you don’t know anyone. You can stay and try to make an effort, chat and get to know someone, or – like your reviewer – turn around, flounce off and moan it was the worst party ever…” Isn’t that just perfect? Thank you Karen. You can find the first book in Karen’s 1980s-based series, Welcome to Whitlock Close here.

Today is a new day and the hedgehogs and I are going to enjoy every minute of it despite the trolls.

A blog tour starts today, organised by the fabulous Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources who celebrated five years of her business this last week. Happy business birthday, Rachel.

Thank you to everyone who has signed up to participate in this tour. Really excited to read all your comments.

How am I spending today? I’ve just been working through all the wonderful messages from readers in response to my blog post yesterday and will be responding to the publication day messages now. I have an Instagram Live with Fiona Jenkins at 1pm over on her Instagram page. It will be between 30-60 mins of chat and we’d love to have questions from anyone who can join us. You can find Fiona’s page here.

Tonight I’m off out for a meal with the hubby and daughter to celebrate publication day. I often have a Facebook Live on the evening with Boldwood Books so don’t get a chance to do this but we’re doing a lunchtime live next week instead – 12noon on Friday 16th September – as we’d like to give readers a chance to read some (or all) of Christmas Miracles first. That will be over on the Book and Tonic Facebook page found here.

Thank you to everyone who has shown the hedgehog love. Much appreciated.

Big hedge-hugs
Jessica xx

The one where I have a massive wobble about tomorrow’s publication day

It’s publication day for Christmas Miracles at Hedgehog Hollow tomorrow. When asked how I feel about publication day, I often say I’m nervo-cited – a mixture of nerves and excitement – but this time I’m far more nervous than excited and kind of thinking I’d like to hibernate for the day.

This is my seventeenth book but, as nine of my titles are re-issues, it’s actually my twenty-sixth publication day so you’d think I’d be used to it by now and not be fazed at all. Not the case. If anything, I think it gets harder and this one is the ‘worst’ yet.

I always knew that publication of this particular book would be a toughie because it’s the last book in a six-book series and there are so many readers out there who absolutely don’t want the series to end. Seeing comments on social media about being sad that the series is ending and how reading the last book will be bittersweet is exceptionally flattering, but it brings with it guilt and pressure.

I feel guilty that I’ve ended the series. I stand by it being the right thing to do, but I feel like the mean adult who has taken the toys away from the lovely children!

And I feel the pressure of wrapping up a six-book series in a way that satisfies, thrills and delights. Having said that, I’ve felt that pressure all along with each new book declared by many as ‘better than the last’. Part of my reason for ending the series at six was to end on a high note and not stay too long at that party, but there’s always been the fear that the next book would be the one that stayed too long. Would readers think book six was that one?

Early copies of the book go onto a site called NetGalley which is meant to be for genuine book bloggers/ reviewers/ influencers with a big platform of followers who get a free copy of the book in return for an honest review which will hopefully entice their following to make a purchase. Unfortunately this system massively gets abused and there are readers on there who grab free books without a second thought as to whether the book/ author/ genre is actually right for them. But that’s a separate story.

When used properly, NetGalley reviews give the author and publisher a sense of how well the book is going to be received on actual publication day and it should also give them some great early reviews to use in promotion.

There are always negative reviews in there – we can’t all like the same thing – but I’ve had more negative reviews than usual for Christmas Miracles. It has been so frustrating as they’re nearly all from readers who claim not to have realised this was the last book in the series and this is the first one of the series (and often the first one of mine) they’ve read. Personally, I think the parts of the blurb I’ve popped in capitals here would be a bit of a clue that it’s the last in the series: Jessica Redland WELCOMES YOU BACK to Hedgehog Hollow this Christmas FOR THE FINAL TIME IN THIS SERIES for a heartfelt story of love, family, friendship… but that’s obviously not clue enough.

Several of these negative reviews comment on there being a lot of characters and how confusing it was to keep track of everyone and their back stories. Of course it is! You need to have read the whole series to gradually meet everyone and get to know their stories. This cast wasn’t there from the first chapter of book 1. They have steadily grown.

In the main, I’ve been able to ignore these reviews because this is not a standalone book and I certainly wouldn’t recommend anyone diving in at this point because it won’t make sense. It isn’t meant to. But over the weekend, I read a review (also from someone who hadn’t read any of the other books) that floored me…

It began with these words: “In the acknowledgements, the author says she is a “pantser” when it comes to writing, and girl…. I can tell.” Ouch! Clearly written by someone who has no idea what pantser means or an understanding that it’s not an inferior approach to writing. I got the full meaning of her comment here – that I’d just slapped down any old rubbish and had no idea what I was doing.

She writes, “I have never really understood when people write super mean book reviews but I honestly wish I hadn’t wasted my time on this book” and then guess what happens? She goes on to be that person who writes a “super mean book review” with a horrendous 1-star 550-word rant including one of the meanest comments ever: “Color me shocked when I realized this author has published 17 books and this is the 6th in this series… I am in complete shock that even one book like this got published, let alone 6.” This is really personal now. I get that she didn’t like the story and I completely understand why she’d be confused when she hadn’t read the others, but to suggest I can’t write and should never have had 17 books published! There’s no need for that.

Her closing words are: ““Miracles” is a bold word to use in your title when you made fictional characters just to give them horribly traumatic life experiences. I see no miracles in this fictional world, only pain, like the pain I feel when I realize I spent 5 hours of my life on this. Do not recommend.”

Wow! She certainly didn’t hold back on how much she hated the book. And me!

One of the key objections in the main body of the rant – which I haven’t shared because of spoilers – is the subject matter. I write about life and life can throw some tough blows. Across this series, there have been a number of difficult issues explored and they are alluded to in the final book along with the issues handled in that instalment, but this reader lists them all as though they all happened in one book. So I do know that part of the reason she hated it so much was that she hadn’t read the rest of the series and I keep telling myself that, but I just struggle to understand why someone can be so nasty … especially when they’ve declared that they can’t understand why people do this either!

Life’s too short to read a book that you’re not enjoying. You don’t need to invest ‘5 hours of my life’ on a book you hate, that you’re not following, whose subject matter you aren’t enjoying. Shut down the Kindle and accept it wasn’t for you. You haven’t paid for it. Nobody has forced you to read it. Walk away.

I know I should take that advice and walk away from this review and, in other circumstances, I’d probably lick my wounds and do that, but I’m struggling this time because I’m a bit stressed and rundown at the minute. I tend to get problems with my eyes when that happens and the worst-case scenario is that I get conjunctivitis which I have right now. It’s a virus and, although stress doesn’t cause a virus, the body is more likely to pick one up when a person’s rundown so this is my body telling me I need to take care of me a bit more – something I’m not very good at. In the great scheme of things, conjunctivitis is nothing compared to what many people are facing so I can’t really complain, but I think it has made me more sensitive to the Negative Normans and more worried about publication day tomorrow as a result.

I don’t shy away from tough storylines and, while there are loads of readers who love that about my books, there will always be something that somebody doesn’t like. Many of my regular advance readers have given superb reviews and commented that, although the storyline was tough, I’ve tackled it with my usual sensitivity. But a couple of my regular readers who have loved the series so far have said they haven’t liked this book as much as the others, with some even giving negative ratings because one of the topics I’ve covered is an uncomfortable one. Yes, it is, but it is not uncommon so I have included it. I also don’t give any specific detail. Having a couple of big fans of the series drop a couple of marks for that reason is adding to the nervousness around tomorrow.

As I can’t get away with hibernating – far too much work to do – I’ll smile and face tomorrow but my stomach will be churning all day, far more than usual.

A huge thank you to the wonderful Boldwood authors who have been so supportive and encouraging during my wobble. You are superstars.

To anyone who is going to be reading Christmas Miracles at Hedgehog Hollow this week (or listening to it from 20th September – slight delay on the audio version), I hope you love the story as much as I do. I’m very proud of this end to the series and, despite the negative comments from some, I wouldn’t change a word of it. It’s the story that Fizz and Samantha needed to tell and I’m honoured to be that conduit for telling it. I already know that a couple of readers have resonated with some of the subjects explored and have found it immensely cathartic.

Wish me luck for tomorrow! Brave face on!

Big hedge-hugs
Jessica xx

The one where it’s 2 years since Hedgehog Hollow first appeared

I’m celebrating an extremely special book birthday today. It’s two years since the first book in the Hedgehog Hollow series – Finding Love at a Hedgehog Hollow – was published (2nd July 2020).

What started as an idea for a standalone story has grown into a six-book series:

  • Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow (2nd July 2020)
  • New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow (7th January 2021)
  • Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow (4th May 2021)
  • A Wedding at Hedgehog Hollow (6th January 2022)
  • Chasing Dreams at Hedgehog Hollow (28th June 2022)
  • Christmas Miracles at Hedgehog Hollow (6th September 2022)

It’s been an amazing two years. I had no idea that there’d be so much love for the hedgehogs and that this series would grow into something that so many readers and listeners have taken to their hearts.

I’ve been christened ‘hedgehog lady’, ‘mother of hedgehogs’ and ‘queen of cliffhangers’ thanks to a little cliffhanger at the end of book 2 and a whopping great one at the end of book 3. I often get sent photos of hedgehog-themed items in shops or in readers’ homes which I love and I’ve been honoured and touched by messages from readers who’ve taken hedgehogs to their local rescue centre when they would never have known they were in danger if they hadn’t read my books.

I’ve befriended the amazing team at my local hedgehog rescue centre – Wolds Hedgehog Rescue Centre – which is the ‘real’ Hedgehog Hollow set in the Yorkshire Wolds. I’ve pumped the team for information, have welcomed Ann and Angela on a Facebook Live and have even fed a hoglet this year which was such a privilege.

The first of books in the series have been stocked by The Works. It’s such a thrill to see them on the shelves and to sign copies in my local branch in Scarborough. I’ve also seen them in garden centres locally.

The first three books have also been translated into Swedish. The first one was out at the end of May this year and book 2 is out in October. I love how the covers are different to the UK ones but have kept the colour and theme. I can’t wait to see what they come up with for book 3, which I suspect will be out early next year. There were only three books out at the time the foreign rights deal was made so I’m hoping they’ll be well received and they’ll take on the remaining three.

My own collection of hedgehog-related items is huge. I have ornaments, a door stop, soft toys, cushions, stationery, dresses, T-shirts, Christmas decorations and even a chair upholstered by Ann at Wolds Hedgehog Rescue. I’ve definitely run out of room now! Here’s just a small selection….

There’ve been some incredible chart achievements:

  • All five books released so far have made it into the Kindle Top 100 with all but New Arrivals achieving Top 40 positions
  • Chasing Dreams made it to #23 on publication day – my 2nd highest charting of all my books
  • Finding Love has been Top 20 in Kindle Australia
  • Finding Love was #1 in the Apple Free chart in the UK and Ireland and, while that was on promotion, New Arrivals hit the #2 slot in the overall Apple chart and Family Secrets hit #5
  • Chasing Dreams soared up to #26 in the overall Audible UK chart this week
  • The first four books combined, as at the end of April this year, have sold over 200,000 copies across all formats
  • At at the time of writing, the first five books combined have over 15,000 ratings on Amazon, over 14,000 of which are 4 or 5-star rated. They’ve also gathered well over 3,000 ratings on Audible, most of which are positive

It’s most apt that the title of the current release is Chasing Dreams as the Hedgehog Hollow series has made so many of my writing dreams come true. Will Christmas Miracles bring the miracle of a TV series? Hee hee hee! That would be the stuff beyond dreams!

Thank you to everyone who has bought/borrowed/downloaded/streamed any of the Hedgehog Hollow books. I’m so very grateful.

Big hedge-hugs
Jessica xx

The one where I explain why the Hedgehog Hollow series is ending

What a busy day it has been! Not only has it been the publication day of Chasing Dreams at Hedgehog Hollow but we’ve also had a cover reveal for the final book in the series: Christmas Miracles at Hedgehog Hollow. I absolutely love the cover – I mean, what’s not to love about hedgehogs wearing Christmas hats?

Book 6 will be out on 6th September so not long to wait and can be pre-ordered on Kindle UK here. It will go up for pre-order on Audible and other eBook sites nearer the time. A little heads up on the audio version is that, while we aim for all formats to be available on publication day, there will be a slight delay with the audio and it will be available a week to ten days later so please bear with us on that.

I’ve been out for most of the day and have had no WiFi connectivity which has been a bit frustrating so I was able to respond to messages first thing but not since. I hope to catch up tomorrow. Thank you everyone who has wished me publication best wishes and said kind things about the story. I’m so very grateful.

I’m still reeling at the current chart positions too. Chasing Dreams at Hedgehog Hollow is currently #27 in the overall Kindle chart and #42 in the Audible chart. I can’t quite believe it! The only eBook of mine that has reached a higher chart position on Kindle UK is New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms which happened when it went on a Prime deal. This is purely on pre-orders and purchases today and I’m so overwhelmed. Keep having to pinch myself!

So let’s talk about book 6 going up for pre-order and the series ending…

Since book three, I’ve been transparent about the series coming to an end and, after the release if book 4 – A Wedding at Hedgehog Hollow – in January, I’ve been very clear that there would be two more books, both out this year.

It’s so flattering that readers and listeners love Samantha, Josh and all the other characters so much – human and spiky – and want the series to keep going and I’m so grateful for that love and support. There’ve been expressions of disappointment, requests for me to keep writing the series indefinitely and a joke among some lovely fans of the series about staging a protest in my front garden (during which I must feed them biscuits) which has been great fun, making me laugh. What hasn’t been quite so fun are a couple of reviews stating that I’ve let readers down by ending the series. A particular advanced review said very little about the book and was instead a rant about how annoyed they were with me for this being the penultimate book. Eek! That’s a bit harsh! It’s not like I’ve abandoned it mid-series with a gazillion unfinished plot points.

The Hedgehog Hollow series has been exceptionally successful. What started out one book – a blending of an exercise I did on my Masters in Creative Writing with the desire to set something in a hedgehog rescue centre, inspired by my auntie’s work as a hedgehog rescuer – grew into something I don’t think any of us ever imagined. There’s a lot of love out there for hedgehogs. And quite rightly so!

Readers/listeners might therefore think I’m a little bonkers to end a series which is so popular so I thought I’d explain several reasons behind this decision:

Reason 1 – Not staying too long at the party

Anyone who read the acknowledgements at the back of book 3, Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow, will know that a couple of early reviews of book 2, New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow completely put me off my stride. Those reviews said I should have stopped at the one book because nothing happened in book 2 and it was all padding. Ouch! That hurt so much that I couldn’t write for several days and had a huge panic about agreeing with my publishers to extend the series.

Thankfully more lovely reviews came in and the pre-orders, sales figures and quality of reviews have shown that, while there will always be some readers who decide they’ve had enough and dip out of a series, the vast majority of my readers have loved all the books and can’t get enough of Hedgehog Hollow.

But there’s always that fear at the back of my mind that, if I keep going on indefinitely, I will hit the point where those ‘should have stopped earlier’ comments are valid criticism and even I agree with them. 

For me, for my amazing cast of characters and for those wonderful hedgehogs, I want the series to end on a high.

Reason 2 – Having enough stories to tell

There’s a large and fascinating cast of characters connected with Hedgehog Hollow and they all have stories to tell but some are more interesting than others so, in creating this series, I’ve needed to think about who has something interesting to say, ensuring the main storyline remains fresh and very different from book to book while keeping some of the series threads and themes going.

Many of the characters are so closely connected to each other that in telling one character’s story, I’ve revealed much of another’s story too, meaning there’s insufficient left to explore in a separate book.

If we take Samantha’s parents, for example – Jonathan and Debs – their lives are so tied in with Samantha’s storyline and much of their backstory has already come out within Samantha’s narration. I did toy with a book where Jonathan was the narrator (then changed my mind) but I was always adamant that Debs wouldn’t narrate one. This is because the relationship between Samantha and Debs is a key thread across the whole series and giving Debs a book would lessen the impact of following that thread through Samantha’s eyes. We’ve already discovered why Debs is the way she is through information shared across the series and we know the relationship history between Debs and Jonathan through other books so, if I told her story (or Jonathan’s) I’d have been regurgitating known information which would take away the excitement of a backstory reveal.

It’s the same with Josh’s parents, Connie and Paul. Enough of their backstory has already been revealed through Josh in New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow and we’ve kept a track of how they’re doing with their new partners throughout the series. They don’t need books of their own. I could write them but the ‘staying too long at the party’ criticism would be deserved if I did.

Reason 3 – Giving Samantha her happy ever after

This is actually the biggest reason for stopping at six books. The way I set up this series was to have Samantha as the narrator all the way through. This makes sense. After all, Samantha is Hedgehog Hollow. She’s the person who set it up, she’s the person who runs it, she’s the connection to all the other characters.

From book 2 onwards, a guest narrator whose life is connected to Samantha’s has told their interlinked story. While the ‘big’ story is usually the one belonging to the guest narrator, Samantha does need to have key things happening in her life to keep her story interesting and not just padding.

SPOILER ALERT – Skip over these next 2 paragraphs if you’ve just started the series

In New Arrivals, we found Samantha struggling to balance the needs of the rescue centre alongside her full-time role as a tutor, resulting in her collapsing at work and accepting she couldn’t do both jobs. In Family Secrets, she started experiencing PTSD episodes as a result of the vendetta from the Grimes family and, in A Wedding, she was planning her wedding while dealing with the theft of the rescue centre’s money and the subsequent arrival of Phoebe and Darcie. 

There have also been three key relationship threads developing across the series – with Josh, her mum and Chloe – where something has changed in each book to move those relationships forward. With Josh, this has been the stages in their relationship, with Debs it has been the gradual thawing of hostilities, and with Chloe this is about Samantha standing up to her during her selfish moments, developing Samantha’s confidence and resilience.

NO SPOILERS FROM NOW…

So there’s always been a conflict/challenge facing Samantha in each book running alongside the ongoing relationship threads.

I sometimes get messages from readers, see comments on social media, and read remarks in reviews telling me to lay off Samantha and asking when I’m going to let her have her happy ever after. I love that readers adore Samantha and want her to be happy but my response is always that, if I give Samantha her HEA, the series ends. Without conflict, there’s no story to tell.

Much as I understand this desire for Samantha to settle down with Josh, have babies, have a calm and quiet life rescuing hedgehogs, no more family conflicts and no more trouble with the Grimes family, do readers really want to read about a ‘normal’ happy life? Of course not! They want to be excited, moved, drawn into a story. And a HEA doesn’t do that.

Which is why the series must end.

My amazing editor, Nia, had also questioned the sense in ending the series when it’s doing so well but, when she read my first draft of Chasing Dreams, the reasons clicked into place for her. She could see what I was saying about how increasingly difficult it would be to have a story for Samantha to tell. I had conflict planned for her in books 5 and 6 but where else would I go beyond that?

There’s conflict I could bring in to keep the series going. I could mess things up for her and Josh. I could introduce a number of scenarios leading to arguments or even a split … but why would I do that? For a start, they are such a well-suited couple. They don’t argue. They’re a partnership, supporting each other through everything so this wouldn’t sit with the relationship I’ve built. I doubt the readers would appreciate it either. Why invest in a couple only for the author to then split them up? And Samantha and Josh certainly wouldn’t thank me for it. One of the things that was really important to me was that, when they got together, it would work for life and I know from reviews that readers have loved how solid they are.

What to expect from the final book

There is one more story I want to tell which is Fizz’s. I loved her from the moment she turned up unexpectedly on the page. With her pink hair and sparkly unicorn T-shirt, she made a strong first impression and I just knew she was going to become a key character.

Running alongside Fizz’s story, Samantha will have one more challenge to overcome before I finally give her a happy ever after.

The final book – Christmas Miracles at Hedgehog Hollow – is available for pre-order on Kindle now and will have conclusions for many of the supporting characters. It will go up for pre-order on Audible and other eBook formats nearer the time and be available as a paperback from publication day. I’ve shared the blurb at the end of this post.

Is that it for Hedgehog Hollow?

The great news is that, although this is the end of the series, it’s not the end of Hedgehog Hollow. I still plan to write a prequel book telling Thomas and Gwendoline’s story which I’m excited to write. This is currently penned in for release in July 2024 on the 4-year anniversary of the release of the first book in the series – Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow – but no definite promises on this just yet. Things can and do change in publishing.

I’m also planning some spin-off books which will tell the stories of people who become connected in some way with Hedgehog Hollow, whether as volunteers or for some other reason. I can’t give too much away as that would give spoilers for what’s coming up in Chasing Dreams and Christmas Miracles but readers will get to catch up with what’s going on at the rescue centre without Samantha being the narrator (and without me having to mess up Samantha’s life!)

I’m really looking forward to writing the first one of these – which I can confirm will be out in January 2023 – and I think readers will be happy with the glimpses into life at Hedgehog Hollow through the eyes of new characters.

So that’s why the series is ending! Would I ever write another Hedgehog Hollow book (other than the prequel)? Never say never but I’m not planning to do so for the moment.

Thank you to everyone who has fallen in love with the series and with hedgehogs. Your support and kind words have meant the world to me. For those who are disappointed, please don’t be sad – feel happy instead that you travelled to Hedgehog Hollow and made new friends and know that there’s more to come from the Yorkshire Wolds, Whitsborough Bay and my new setting in 2023 of the stunning Lake District.

Big hedge-hugs
Jessica xx

It’s the countdown to Christmas at Hedgehog Hollow Wildlife Rescue Centre, and everyone is gearing up for a festive season to remember…

It should be the most wonderful time of the year for Samantha and Josh as they prepare for the arrival of their first baby. But life at Hedgehog Hollow rarely goes to plan and the pair are faced with adversaries, old and new, and unexpected challenges to overcome.

Fizz’s job at the heart of the rescue centre is a dream come true but her personal life is more like a nightmare. With her love life a disaster and her past about to dramatically catch up with her, she needs the love and support of her Hedgehog Hollow family more than ever.

As the snow falls over Hedgehog Hollow, will Samantha and Fizz find the Christmas miracle they need to overcome their heartache and find happiness?

Top 10 bestseller Jessica Redland welcomes you back to Hedgehog Hollow this Christmas for the final time in this series for a heartfelt story of love, family, friendship – and hedgehogs of course!