After his tour of Afghanistan ends tragically, Nessa Bruce is looking forward to welcoming back her husband, Jake, and getting their little family back on track. However, Jake doesn’t show up and Nessa and her teenage daughter Poppy are made to presume the worst. There’s so much to love about Jessica Thompson’s book, not least the bittersweet love story of Nessa and Jake. However, from the get-go, this whole relationship is compromised by the opening prologue which sets up another love in Nessa’s life - that of childhood sweetheart and best friend, Will. Given this opening it seemed that Will was going to be the main man and so the story of Jake and Nessa felt somewhat diminished, which was a huge shame. Having said that, however, Thompson does well to create two very different yet equally worthy main men in Will and Jake and for once this was a love story in which the reader really invests in both relationships. However, again I felt the prologue dictated and limited the narrative too much, rather than letting the story and relationships develop more organically and less predictably. Although the ending was surprising and hard-hitting, the events in the aftermath felt undeveloped and the ending point of the final chapter didn’t wrap things up for me. A final point of contention for me was the subplot which surrounded Nessa and her younger sister Kat’s childhood. This felt largely underdeveloped and a bit forced for much of the narrative and I thought the strength of the main story was sufficient without needing this secondary storyline. However, the final twist at the end did give the story some substance. For me this book had bags of potential and lots of great points but was just held back by some of the other issues. I would still happily recommend it to readers and believe it’s one to discuss with friends. (JC)
Ben is a successful PR agent, living a flash lifestyle and earning big bonuses from powerful companies. But a tragedy from his past has him thinking he doesn't deserve to be happy - or find love. Effy has found her calling running a charity for Ugandan children. When Ben's firm adopts Effy's charity as their cause for the year, the pair find themselves drawn to one another. But Ben has another secret he's keeping from the strongly principled Effy - one that could tear them apart. This is a touching story that shines a spotlight on grief and guilt in an accomplished way. Although it had perhaps a bit too much retrospection at times, the characters were expertly drawn - and Ben's back story and the effect it has had on his life helps this story stand out from the pack. It's an emotional read with a sweet love story.
They are just words but they mean so much. As a dark evening draws in, the lives of three women are changed forever. The worlds they have been living in, the people they thought they knew - in an instant it all changes. But when everything seems to shatter around them, could three little words be enough to help put the pieces back together again? Three Little Words is the story of four women, whose lives have been altered by a turn of events. The story flits between the different women making it difficult at first to remember who everyone is, especially as the initial chapters jump backwards and forwards in time. However, the event at the beginning of the book hooks you in and keeps you reading and wondering just how the four women are connected. Whist I enjoyed the four stories, it was Bryony's story that I wanted to read about as I empathised the most with her. There were plot twists and turns along the way that I didn't see coming and I thought overall it was a good read. It's not a book to dip in and out of, if you can try to read it in a few sittings. (AB)
When Sienna and Nick first laid eyes on each other, bonding over a squirrel on water skis, they fell in love. Only sometimes it isn't that simple; they're work colleagues (and Nick doesn't date work colleagues anymore) and Sienna has enough secrets in her home life to occupy her time without falling in love. The books tells both Nick and Sienna's story over five years as they try to fight their feelings for each other. This is a Love Story does exactly what it says on the tin. Told from both Nick and Sienna's point of view, you know the characters are made for each other and spend the book hoping they get together. This does mean at a few points in the novel you do want to bash the character's heads together in frustration! The book made me laugh out loud in places and get choked on tears the next. The novel is written with a quirky and fresh tone. It's a brilliant debut novel and is unashamed chick lit at its best. (AB)