I was fortunate enough to be sent a copy of this novel by the author Donna Alward and Justine Sha at St Martin’s Press, New York in exchange for a fair and honest review – to be featured as part of the “Somebody Like You” blog tour!
Laurel Stone has returned to her small home town of Darling at a time in her life when she had expected to be spreading her wings and making a new “grown up” life. She has done everything just as she had planned…studied hard, with uni and a degree, moved to the city, taken the sensible options and achieved a good job, home and relationship. But by her mid twenties it has gone wrong, she has had her heart broken and followed the only route that seems open to her – home.
But what awaits her in a small town where everyone knows each other, and each other’s business? Laurel Stone doesn’t want to rock the boat. She wants to please her parents, her best friend, the town’s business community, even her ex. But there is another ex from her high school days who is still living in Darling and he was the first boy to break her heart. With a small crime wave sweeping through the community, how will Laurel cope with coming face to face with said ex, now police officer Aiden Gallagher, when her new garden centre is vandalised? He was the first boy she had kissed and the whole town knows this as the photographic proof is hung in the town hall. A 5 year old page boy and bridesmaid kissing on the town’s infamous “Kissing Bridge” and adorning the tourist information ever since.
This is “Chic Lit” at its best and a really lovely read for a winter weekend in February. In Laurel we have a heroine who puts the feelings of everyone else before herself, burying her own feelings rather than face them. She loves her new business, the Ladybug gardening centre, and is even inspired to give a homeless man a job, but she seems intent on ruining her own personal happiness. She could be a bit too saccharine, but the whole way through the book the character of Laurel is written with something feisty bubbling just beneath the surface. What will it take to push it to the fore?
At first Aiden is depicted as a twenty something version of his high school self, the popular boy with good looks and a swagger to match. But he is constantly drawn back to Laurel, even persuading her to a holiday celebration at his large family’s home, although he can’t seem to do right for doing wrong where Laurel is concerned. I think that Aiden grows up and opens up through the course of the book, and we learn about a different side to him as we meet his family.
There are some great back stories and lovely characters. I particularly like Laurel’s best friend Willow, the yoga loving, hippy, wholefood café owner who provides the delicious sounding chocolate brownies that have a star role! The homeless man George who both Aiden & Laurel take under their wings – his observation that “when you’re invisible you notice a lot” was so touching – and Oaklee the young very enthusiastic campaign manager for the town’s tourism. She is determined to recreate “that” photo on the Kissing Bridge now that Laurel is home again.
This is a feel good story about relationships exploring family, sexuality, friendship and romance. It doesn’t pretend to be a classic piece of literature – but it is a really enjoyable, easy read contemporary romance. Great for spoonies!
Now I’m off to spend this wet, dark February evening starting the next in the Darling series, “Somebody’s Baby”……review to come!