Book Reviews

Book Review: Mrs Sommersby’s Second Chance by Laurie Benson

What better way to kick off a Sunday by welcoming Laurie Benson and the blog tour for her novel, Mrs Sommersby’s Second Chance.

 

She’s played Cupid for others

Now she’s met her own unlikely match!

The final book of The Sommersby Brides quartet. Widowed society matchmaker Mrs. Clara Sommersby thinks self-made businessman William Lane is just the man for her neighbor’s overlooked daughter. He’s successful and confident, if emotionally distant, until suddenly—shockingly—his attention turns to Clara herself!

She thought her days of romance were over, but is this younger man intent on giving her a second chance?

 

Mrs Sommersby’s Second Chance is a seasoned regency romance novel and the last in the Sommersby Brides series.

This was my first novel in the series and one of the things I loved was that the main character was in her forties. Prove that life doesn’t end simply because you’re not twenty.

As I said, this book focuses on Clara Sommersby who is drawn to a visitor to Bath, William Lane. Instantly they have an attraction to each other.

This can be read as a standalone novel but I will be picking up the others in the series when I can.

I immediately fell in love with the characters, the setting and the atmosphere in this novel. I love Bath and felt as though I was there observing the relationship that builds between Lane and Clara. I felt like I was stepping back in time with this magical love story.

I cheered for both Clara (who is a strong, independent woman,) and Lane who is a proper gentleman. Like Clara, Lane knows what it’s like to work hard for what you achieve and what it’s like to have little in the world and for the society around you to expect that you’re not capable of achieving anything.

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Book Review: The Moments by Natalie Winter

Life is made up of countless moments. Moments that make us who we are. But what if they don’t unfold the way they’re supposed to…?

What if you get on the wrong bus, or don’t speak to the right person at a party, or stay in a job that isn’t for you? Will you miss your one chance at happiness? Or will happiness find you eventually, when the moment is right?

Meet Matthew and Myrtle. They have never really felt like they fitted – in life or with anyone else. But they are meant to be together – if only they can find each other.

A powerful and emotional story about missed chances, interwoven lives and the moments that define us.

*****

 

The Moments is the story about two people as they go through significant moments in their lives. I’ve seen it described as a cross between One Day and Sliding Doors.

This story follows Myrtle and Matthew; two outsiders who have always felt as though they’ve never fitted in. The Moments is told from the point of view of both characters but it was made very clear which one I was reading about. This book was an interesting approach to the traditional love story. These characters have many chances to meet. I am not going to reveal if they do and in what circumstance.

Fate is so present in this novel and very much has its own agenda. The idea of meeting the right person at the right or wrong time. I find it fascinating.

It reminded me so much of my husband and I. Although we grew up at opposite ends of the country, he used to holiday/had family in my home town. His mother and mine were even in the same guide troop a couple of years apart. Although we didn’t meet until we were eighteen, I always loved the idea that, like this novel, we possibly crossed paths without even realising.

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Book Review: I Heart Hawaii by Lindsey Kelk

When Angela Clark’s best friend Jenny invites her to join a press trip to Hawaii, three days of sun, sea and sleep sounds like the perfect antidote to her crazed life.
 
At work in New York, she’s supposed to be the face of Having It All. But the only thing Angela feels she excels at is hiding in the printer cupboard, eating Mini Cheddars and watching Netflix on her phone and if this is living the dream, she’s more than ready to wake up.
 
A few days away with Jenny sounds like exactly what she needs but Angela’s talent for getting into a scrape guarantees nothing goes to plan – and not even the most beautiful beaches, blue skies and daiquiris will get her off the hook…

I have to say that I was sad to hear that this is the last in the I Heart series. I have enjoyed following Angela over the last few years.

Angela is still in New York. Alice is almost one, Alex is getting ready for a live show full of new material and our heroine has quit Spencer Media to go and work for her frenemy, Cici.

She has also been invited to meet with the exclusive Mothers of Brooklyn group which, on first inspection feels more like the mafia to Angela.

When Angela is given the chance to go on an all expense paid trip to Hawaii, she reluctantly goes, with a little arm twisting from Jenny.

Now, I can’t say much more without giving things away but if you are in any way familiar with Angela, you will know that hilarity and chaos will ensue.

I really enjoyed this novel and feel it was paced well. I was reading far into the night and couldn’t put the book down (the same as the rest of the books in the series.)

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Book Review: A Cornish Affair by Jo Lambert

I am very happy to finally be welcoming Jo Lambert back to Novel Kicks with the blog tour for her new novel, A Cornish Affair. 

Here’s a little about the book…

In the close-knit community of Carrenporth in Cornwall everyone knows everyone else’s business. Luke Carrack is only too aware of this. He’s been away for two years but nothing has changed – from the town gossips who can’t see past the scandal of his childhood, to the cold way he is treated by some of his so-called family.

The only person who seems to understand is local hotelier’s daughter Cat Trevelyan, although even Luke’s new friendship with her could set tongues wagging.

But Carrenporth is about to experience far bigger scandals than the return of Luke Carrack – and the secrets unearthed in the process will shake the sleepy seaside town to its core …

 

Luke Carrack is back in Carrenporth after a couple of years away.

He soon discovers that in the two years he has been away, not much as changed. There are still the village gossips and his Aunt and Cousin don’t like him much.

There is only one person he seems to connect with, Cat, who is the daughter of the local hotelier.

This book immediately pulled me in. This is partly down to the writing style and how it so easily got me absorbed into the story. Told from both Luke and Cat’s point of view, I really got an idea of what each one was thinking and feeling. The setting also sounds beautiful. I could see myself in this little Cornish town.

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Book Review: Victory for the East End Angels by Rosie Hendry

Hello to Rosie Hendry. Today is publication day for Victory for the East End Angels, the last novel in the East End Angels series. 

The war is almost over – and it’s up to the East End Angels to keep the home fires burning!

Frankie’s fiance, a doctor, is away looking after the troops in Europe – will he return safely home?

Winnie has a happy secret – but can she carry on at Station 75 when she’s going to have a baby?

Bella is intrigued by her new friend, a Polish airman.

As the war ends and victory is in sight, what next for the girls of Station 75?

 

Happy publication day, Rosie.

It is now 1944. The war is almost over but London and Station 75 are not out of danger yet.

Bella is still grieving over the loss of James but the promise of a new love means that she may finally be able to move on.

Frankie is worried about Alistair and what will happen to him once he heads back over to mainland Europe.

Winnie is in the same situation to Frankie. Mac is also due for deployment but something unexpected takes them both by surprise.

It was lovely to catch up with the inhabitants of Station 75. It’s like catching up with old friends. I found that I could identify with each of the four women (Bella, Franke, Winnie and Rose,) and I think that’s what makes them such wonderful, endearing characters.

Rosie is so good at pulling the reader into the setting. I could feel the atmosphere (good and bad.) At certain points in the story, I wanted to step into the pages and hang out with the characters for a while. The friendship these women share is the one everyone aspires to have.

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Book Review: A Walk in Wildflower Park by Bella Osborne

Welcome back to Bella Osborne who is here today with the blog tour for her new novel, A Walk in Wildflower Park.

Life’s not always a walk in the park…

When Anna is dumped by her fiancé, she moves in to her own place on the edge of the gorgeous Wildflower Park and pledges to stay off men and focus on her career, but a handsome new colleague seems to thwart her attempts at every turn. And when she receives an accidental text from a mystery man, could it be the new start she needs? Or someone she really shouldn’t be falling for?

Anna’s neighbour Sophie is a stressed-out mum-of-two with a third on the way. Her husband is a constant frustration, and their children are a regular source of newly-invented swear words and unidentifiable sticky surfaces.

Luckily, Anna and Sophie have each other – and Wildflower Park proves to be a sanctuary as they map out a path to find the happiness they both deserve…

A Walk in Wildflower Park was originally published as a four-part serial. This is the complete story in one package.

 

Anna thought she had found the one in Liam until he broke off the engagement.

Hoping a change of scenery will do her good, she moves into a place of her own on the edge of the beautiful Wildflower Park.

With the help of her friend and neighbour, Sophie, a temperamental elderly man named Bert and a cat named Maurice, Anna quickly settles in and vows to put her career first.

A handsome new American colleague and texts from a mystery man don’t make her new plan easy.

Is this the beginning of something great for Anna?

A new novel from Bella is like catching up with a friend you’ve not seen for ages and yet pick up where you left off which starts with a warm hug – comforting but also exciting.

Told from duel point of views, Anna and Sophie, it was interesting to see the opposites when it comes to the lifestyles of these women. Their friendship was lovely to read about and the kind everyone wants.

As well as Anna and Sophie, other characters were great too. These included the handsome Hudson, the clueless yet loveable Dave and the brilliant Bert who added additional humour to an already funny novel.

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NK Chats To… Alex Brown

Thank you so much for joining me today, Alex. Can you tell me a little about A Postcard From Italy and what inspired it?

Thanks for inviting me. A Postcard From Italy is my eighth full length novel and it’s a love story that spans nearly ninety years. Connie is harbouring a secret at the onset of the Second World War and then we fast forward to today where Grace opens a storage unit containing a lifetime of treasured belongings.

She then sets out to unravel the secret in a quest to right the wrongs meted out to Connie all those years ago and maybe find love for herself when she travels to the breathtakingly beautiful Italian Riviera.

 

What’s your writing process like (from idea to final draft) and how has it evolved since your first novel?

I’m not much of planner so I usually have an idea which I brainstorm with my editor before writing a synopsis which I then use as a rough guide to get me started. I write Monday to Friday and aim for at least a thousand words unless my deadline is looming and then I’ll write every day and into the night too for a week or two until the book is finished.

I start the day by editing the previous day’s words before writing on. My writing process hasn’t changed much since my first novel, although I procrastinate a lot less these days, I don’t have the time, and I always end the day by writing the outline for the following day … I like to know what’s happening next.

 

Which elements do you think are important for a successful novel?

There are so many variations but if you have a good story with a cliffhanger at the end of each chapter, so your reader feels compelled to read on, then you’re off to a good start. If you have wit and a sprinkle of wisdom too then even better.

 

Which fictional character would you like to meet?

Georgie Hart from my Carrington’s department store series. I love her so much and think we’d be the best of friends. It might sound daft but after writing four books she really does feel real to me and I miss her sometimes.

 

What other advice would you give to new writers like me?

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Book Review: The Wedding Planner by Eve Devon

It’s summer, the wedding bells are ringing and I am saying hi to Eve Devon and the blog tour for her latest book, The Wedding Planner. 

Wedding bells are ringing and gossip is spiralling in Whispers Wood…
Single mum Gloria Pavey has a bad habit of saying exactly the wrong thing at the wrong time. Determined to make a positive change she can’t say no when her best friend, Emma, asks her to take on the role of her wedding planner.

The only problem? Gloria’s co-planner – best man Seth Knightley.
Gloria is on a self-imposed man ban but pulling together the most beautiful wedding Whispers Wood has ever seen alongside gorgeous Seth is pushing her to her limits.

As every interaction increases the tension between them Gloria finds herself wondering…could the happy ever after she never thought she’d have be in her future after all?

 

The Wedding Planner, the third novel in the Whispers Wood series focuses on Gloria.

After finding out her husband had fallen in love with someone else, she’s no longer buying into the happy ever after. In-fact, she’s even finding it hard to be nice to people.

Determined to change her ways though, even just a little bit, she is pulled into the world of weddings when her colleague, Emma, finally makes a decision about her wedding to Jake.

Not only has Gloria got to be a bridesmaid, she’s now working with Jake’s younger and handsome brother, Seth. Can she resist him like she’s managed to resist everything else?

This took me a couple of chapters to get into and then I couldn’t stop reading.

The relaxed and chatty writing style made it a wonderful book to read. I felt as though I was witnessing all this rather than reading it, if that makes sense.

Gloria is a wonderfully complex character. She’s been hurt in love and in life so she has self-preservation in spades. Even when the gorgeous Seth makes it clear he’s flirting with her, she tries to resist him. I shouted to the page on more than one occasion for her to stop being so silly.

The characters around Gloria are equally as wonderful and I don’t think there was one I didn’t like.

Although there is the old chapter told from various point of views, this is Gloria’s story.

This book is a real journey for Gloria. She has closed herself off to everything.

It’s about her relationship with Seth and I loved this but it was also interesting to see how her friendships develop with the other women in the story, Juliet, Emma and Kate. It was a close run thing with Seth (the perfect Jane Austen type hero,) but the friendship between the four women is my favourite part.

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Book Review: Seventeen by Suzanne Lowe

Imagine a world where everything you grew up with is gone. No adults, no internet, no rules.

The world is facing the deadliest virus ever known.

When the KV17 virus kills everyone above the age of seventeen, life becomes a battle of survival for the children left behind. Seeking to escape the escalating violence in the city, two sisters, Lexi and Hadley flee to the Australian outback. Finding sanctuary in the small town of Jasper’s Bay, they soon realise it is far from safe, as a gang of lawless teenagers terrorise the town.

Caught in a bitter feud leading to betrayal, deceit and murder, the girls must quickly uncover who their enemies are, and who they can trust.

In a world drastically changed from everything they once knew; can the sisters and children of Jasper’s Bay learn to adapt? Can they maintain control of their town, and protect it from those who would destroy it?

 

Seventeen is the first book in the series of the same name by Australian author Suzanne Lowe.

A virus sweeps the world, killing off all the adults and leaving only the under 17s alive.

The story follows Lexi and her sister Hadley as they try and come to terms with the loss of their parents and finding their own way in a world without TV, Twitter, Instagram or any of the other technology we take for granted.

After meeting up with a group of other children they feel they might have found a new life for themselves in the country, but trouble soon finds them and their new life.

The book is fairly typical of the “kids against the world” kind of Young Adult fiction but it is no less enjoyable for that.

The book is very well paced and an easy read with strong characters and lots of cultural references.

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Book Review: The Secret – Violet’s Story by Eliza J. Scott

It’s been two years since glamorous and ambitious Violet Smith fell head-over-heels in love with blacksmith Jimby Fairfax, and moved back home to the North Yorkshire village of Lytell Stangdale to be with him.

Life couldn’t get much sweeter. Their romance is blooming and Romantique – the business she set up with Jimby’s sister Kitty, designing luxurious underwear and burlesque costumes with the odd wedding dress throw in – is thriving.

But on a romantic weekend break, a face from her past triggers a series of events which send Violet into turmoil. She finds herself with no alternative but to reveal a secret she’s buried deep for the past sixteen years. A secret she hasn’t shared with anyone, not even her best friends, Kitty and Molly, and they share everything.

With the revelation forcing a wedge between herself and Jimby, heartbroken Violet fears that he won’t ever be able to think of her in the same way again and won’t want anything more to do with her.

As ever, Kitty and Molly rally round, offering their advice and support but Vi is worried that keeping her secret was just a step too far for Jimby.

Will she succeed in showing him their love is strong enough to overcome it?

The Secret – Violet’s Story is book 3 in the Life on the Moors Series.

 

This third novel in the Life on the Moors series focuses on Violet. She’s now been with Jimby for two years and is blissfully happy. However, a secret from her past unexpectedly comes back up to the surface and threatens to derail everything Violet now holds dear, especially her relationship with James Fairfax.

I have been in love with this book series since the first book, which was Kitty’s story. Whenever a new book has arrived, it’s been like transporting back to Yorkshire and having a catch up with old friends; that’s how Violet, Molly and Kitty feel to me. I want to hang out with them.

I don’t have an overall favourite amongst the three women although Violet’s sense of style sounds amazing. It was nice to get to know her a little better as I progressed through the book.

Despite her ‘no cares’ attitude to the world, Violet has a large vulnerable side not helped by this secret she’s holding close to her chest. I can’t go into any detail about it as it would give too much away. I have grown to care so much for these characters and Violet’s situation makes me very sad.

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Book Review: The Sentinel’s Alliance by Suzanne Rogerson

I hope everyone is enjoying their weekend. It is lovely to welcome Suzanne Rogerson to Novel Kicks today with the blog tour for her latest novel in the Silent Sea Chronicles, The Sentinel’s Alliance.

As the island of Kalaya and its people recover from civil war, a new threat surfaces. Invaders from the island of Elkena hunt the seas, butchering those who possess magic. Their scar-faced captain seeks the Fire Mage who it has been foretold will kill him and Tei and her people are in his warpath.

Tei and a band of Kalayans travel to Stone Haven, the home of their new allies, planning to restore magic to the dead island. But the Stone Haven Council have abhorred magic since their people were massacred by Elkenan invaders twenty years before. Commander Farrell must persuade his people to accept magic again, but his plans expose them to their biggest fear and he risks leading Tei and her people into danger, and jeopardising the safety of both their islands.

Under Farrell’s guidance treaties are forged, but is the newly formed Silent Sea Alliance enough to defeat the invaders and stop their bloodthirsty quest to destroy magic forever?

 

The Sentinel’s Alliance is the third part in the Silent Sea Chronicles, following the stories of Tei, Callisa and Farrell and their lives on the islands of Kalaya and Stone Haven.

If you are unfamiliar with the series then book three won’t stand alone, so I suggest that you start at the beginning.

For those of you familiar with the Silent Sea Chronicles, book three sees Kalaya’s Sentinel, Calissa, working with Farrell and the people of Stone Haven to build an alliance with the peoples of other islands in the Silent Sea to ward off the threat of the invaders from Elkena, bent on eradicating magic from the world.

I very much enjoyed reading this and as with the other books in the series, I feel it tried to hold up a mirror to our world.

It tries to show us, through communication and understanding, how we can build a better world for everyone and how, by working together we can solve problems which we all face.

The writing is relaxed and easy to read, the story is well paced and doesn’t dawdle; keeping you drawn through the book. The characters are likeable, if a little thin in places, but all in all they are well formed.

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Book Review: Bring Me Sunshine by Laura Kemp

Bring Me Sunshine is the new novel from author, Laura Kemp and I am very pleased to be a part of the blog tour today. 

Charlotte Bold is nothing like her name – she is shy and timid and just wants a quiet life. When her job doing the traffic news on the radio in London is relocated to Sunshine FM in Mumbles, she jumps at the chance for a new start in Wales.

But when she arrives she discovers that she’s not there to do the travel news – she’s there to front the graveyard evening show. And she’s not sure she can do it.

Thrust into the limelight, she must find her voice and a way to cope. And soon she realises that she’s not the only person who finds life hard – out there her listeners are lonely too. And her show is the one keeping them going.

 

First off, I want to say that it’s always lovely when I get to welcome another Laura to Novel Kicks.

Words can not describe how much I love the cover of this book. It’s so pretty.

There is such an ease to this book that I immediately got pulled in. I had not read any of Laura’s previous novels but I am wondering where the hell I have been. This will soon be rectified.

The story was told from the point of view of three people and I found this an interesting way to get to know these well-developed characters.

Charlie has just moved to Mumbles to begin a new job. She is terrified to learn that it will be an on air role at Sunshine FM .

Delme, Del to his friends, at the beginning of the novel is working as the health and safety officer at the station.

Tina is the station’s office manager who has a few secrets of her own.

I fell in love with Charlie straight away. She isn’t just black and white. She is fighting battles relating to her past, her confidence and the lack of belief in herself – something I think we can all empathise with on some level. I wanted to jump in and just give her a hug. She felt like a friend.

I felt the same about Del. He is this loveable chap who seems sure of who he is but like Tina, not everything is as it seems.

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Book Review: Secrets and Seashells at Rainbow Bay by Ali McNamara

A big lovely hello to Ali McNamara and the blog tour for her latest novel, Secrets and Seashells at Rainbow Bay. 

 

Amelia is a single mother, doing her very best to look after her young son, Charlie – but money is tight and times are tough. When she first hears that she is the last descendent of the Chesterford family and that she has inherited a Real-Life Castle by the sea, Amelia can’t quite believe her ears. But it’s true!

She soon finds that owning a castle isn’t quite the ticket to sorting out her money problems that she’d first hoped: she can’t sell, because the terms of the ancient bequest state that any Chesterford who inherits the castle, must live there and work towards the upkeep and maintenance of the family home. So ever-practical Amelia decides to uproot her little family and move to this magnificent castle by the sea.

Living in a castle on the beautiful Northumberland coast is fun at first, but organising the day-to-day running is a lot more complicated than Amelia first imagined. Luckily she has help from the small band of eccentric and unconventional staff that are already employed there – and a mysterious unseen hand that often gives her a push in the right direction just when she needs it most. It’s only when she meets Tom, a furniture restorer who comes to the castle to help repair some antique furniture, that Amelia realises she might get the fairy-tale ending that she and Charlie truly deserve…

******

Secrets and Seashells at Rainbow Bay focuses on Amelia. She’s a single mother who is trying to do the best for her young son, Charlie.

When she is told that she’s the last descendant of the Chesterford family and has inherited a castle, she doesn’t believe it at first. With a little convincing, she and Charlie arrive in Northumberland where most people are very friendly.

As she begins to make changes, strange things begin to happen, secrets are revealed and rumours about the castle being haunted may not be lies after all.

Ali McNamara is one of those authors for me. Whenever a new book of hers gets released, I read. Simple.

I pretty much devoured this book over a day. The story, the characters, the setting. It was all great; even grumpy Arthur.

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Book Review: 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World by Elif Shafak

10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World is the latest novel from Elif Shafak and I am pleased to be a part of her blog tour today. 

‘In the first minute following her death, Tequila Leila’s consciousness began to ebb, slowly and steadily, like a tide receding from the shore. Her brain cells, having run out of blood, were now completely deprived of oxygen. But they did not shut down. Not right away…’

For Leila, each minute after her death brings a sensuous memory: the taste of spiced goat stew, sacrificed by her father to celebrate the long-awaited birth of a son; the sight of bubbling vats of lemon and sugar which the women use to wax their legs while the men attend mosque; the scent of cardamom coffee that Leila shares with a handsome student in the brothel where she works.

Each memory, too, recalls the friends she made at each key moment in her life – friends who are now desperately trying to find her. . .

 

10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World is truly a unique book and like nothing I’ve read before.

It’s an interesting look at what potentially happens in the minutes after death.

Split into three parts, part one and three are told from Leila’s point of view as she is dying, looking back over her life and what got her to that point (with chapters giving back story for her friends interspersed with what is going on with Leila.) Part two is from the point of view of her five friends as they try to do right by her.

There were a couple of moments where it was a little slow for me but overall, the pace was good and the plot unfolded well. Istanbul comes alive in this story. The description was so vivid I could imagine myself there, despite it being a place I have never visited.

Leila is a complex character whom you shouldn’t judge by her circumstance. She is stronger than she seems. She is also fiercely loyal and someone I would want in my corner. I felt incredibly sad by her situation and wanted to her to OK despite the fact that I knew she was dead. I cared what happened to her.

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Book Review: Our Stop by Laura Jane Williams

A lovely hello to Laura Jane Williams and the blog tour for her debut novel, Our Stop. 

Nadia gets the 7.30 train every morning without fail. Well, except if she oversleeps or wakes up at her friend Emma’s after too much wine.

Daniel really does get the 7.30 train every morning, which is easy because he hasn’t been able to sleep properly since his dad died.

One morning, Nadia’s eye catches sight of a post in the daily paper:

To the cute girl with the coffee stains on her dress. I’m the guy who’s always standing near the doors… Drink sometime?

So begins a not-quite-romance of near-misses, true love, and the power of the written word.

 

Daniel knew there was something about Nadia from the moment he saw her talking to her boss. He couldn’t believe it when he then saw her on the commute to work.

Deciding to put an advert in the paper, Daniel is hoping that it won’t be long until he can talk to Nadia. He is delighted when she replies. Soon, they are writing back to each other through the paper, not realising that fate has its own plan.

I read this book in a day, desperate to know what happened between these two characters. How does Nadia respond to Daniel’s advert, do they meet and what happens next?

Nadia is a strong female character who, although has moments of doubt, knows who she is and that she deserves to be happy. It was good to see a main character act in this way.

Daniel is a lovely compliment to Nadia’s character and is the perfect love interest. He has a Mr Darcy vibe going on (without being the prat Darcy is at the beginning.)

The supporting characters were also wonderful. I especially liked Romeo. I thought he was a nice change in how male friends are portrayed in some novels.

Having the point of view go between Nadia and Daniel gave it such an interesting perspective. It was good to see the relationship unfold from both sides and to see the emotions and thoughts of both.

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