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The Split By Laura Kay

The Split‘The Split’ is the latest book by Laura Kay.

Brutally dumped by her girlfriend, Ally is homeless, friendless and jobless… but at least she has Malcolm. Wounded and betrayed, Ally has made off with the one thing she thinks might soothe the pain: Emily’s cat. After a long train journey she arrives home to her dad in Sheffield, ready to fold herself up in her duvet and remain on the sofa for the foreseeable. Her dad has other ideas. A phone call later, and Ally is reunited with her first ever beard and friend of old, Jeremy. He too is broken-hearted and living at home again.

I started this book last night and I reluctantly had to put when I had to go to bed.

This debut even though it’s about heartbreak is fun, uplifting and incredibly warm-hearted.

The story is seen solely through the narrative of Al and begins at the moment that her girlfriend Emily breaks up with her. Heartbroken, Al returns home to Sheffield with Malcolm the cat for company, even though he’s technically Emily’s cat.

Back under her dad’s roof, Al is at a loss at what to do next with her life, disinterested in a career, her passion is for baking and is delighted when an opportunity to work in a bakery arises. Her childhood friend Jeremy is also recovering from heartbreak after his boyfriend broke up with him. Together, they find solace in each others pain and decide the best way to get over heartbreak is to do a 13 mile marathon even though they’ve never ran a day in their lives. It’s through running that Al, meets Jo and thinks that she might help with the heartbreak and distract her from emailing Emily.

I adored this book with all my heart, it’s a genuine love story and life affirming book all rolled into one. I loved Al, she’s kind, witty and has a lovely nature. I loved her interaction with Jeremy, their banter and support for each other when things got tough. I enjoyed their nostalgia journeys as they reminisced their school years and struggling with their sexuality.

Laura has written a wonderful story, flowing at a lovely pace with relatable characters and scenarios and eager dogs and moody cats. I loved this book from start to finish, wonderfully written ‘The Split’ is a fantastic debut about recovering from heartbreak and finding yourself along the way. I thoroughly recommend this book and fully understand why it’s one of Quercus’ lead debuts of 2021.

You can pre-order ‘The Split’ from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 18th March 2021.

The Man I Didn’t Marry By Anna Bell

The Man I Didn't Marry‘The Man I Didn’t Marry’ is the latest book by Anna Bell.

Ellie has the perfect life: a happy marriage, a gorgeous daughter and a baby on the way. But when her husband Max develops amnesia, he forgets everything about the last five years. Now the man she said ‘I do’ to has become a stranger, and she has no idea why. Yet Ellie is determined to reconnect and find her Max again – he has to be in there somewhere, right? As they get to know one another afresh, Ellie finds herself seeing Max clearly for the first time. But then she discovers that before his memory loss, Max was keeping a huge secret from her. Will their new beginning prove to be a false start, just as it seemed they might fall in love all over again?

Even though Anna Bell has released nine books, this is the first one that I’ve read by her and it was an uplifting yet poignant story.

The story is seen through the narrative of Ellie, who falls in love and marries her teenage crush Max, who’s the brother of her best friend called Rachel. Pregnant with their second child, they’re looking forward to expanding their family until one day Max just randomly loses his memory and can’t remember the last 5 years. The most significant years of his life, falling in love, getting married and becoming a father. Now, Ellie is left with a man who likes to flirt with strange women in front and she’s terrified that his memory will never recover, so she decides to recreate some of the most important moments in the hope that it will jog his memory.

I loved this story, it’s witty, it’s fun and it’s downright scary how someone’s memory can just disappear. Ellie is a great character, she’s nerdy which she is not apologetic for and is still in awe after marrying her crush but she’s consumed by a fear that she will lose him so she tries to ignite the memories with disastrous dates from drunken beer pong to horrible French restaurants. Her love for Max is evident and it’s hard not to fall for him, as he’s sweet, handsome with his roguish behaviour. It’s sweet and somewhat sad as he veers between the joy of rediscovering his new life and his fear of his memory not returning fully.

The plot line is an interesting one and made this quite the snappy read. Whilst trying to help Max reclaim his memory, Ellie has also joined a maternity group and they are a fun addition to the story, from the snobbish Anneka who’s always got a story to tell to the outspoken and incredibly horny Helen!

Fun from the first page with relatable characters that made for enjoyable reading. This emotional rollercoaster is a romantic comedy at its finest, teamed with witty one liners and the odd tearjerker moment, ‘The Man I Didn’t Marry’ is a captivating comedy about a second chance at love.

You can buy ‘The Man I Didn’t Marry’ from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops.

Asking For A Friend By Andi Osho

Asking For A Friend‘Asking For A Friend’ is the debut novel by Andi Osho.

Forty-something Jemima’s life is on track – well, sort of, she just need to bat her niggly ex away for good.Twenty-something Meagan is in the midst of her five-phase plan and is nearly ready for phase three: a relationship. While thirty-something Simi has had more it’s not yous than any I dos. These best friends decide it’s time to ditch the dating apps and play the love game by their own rules. They’re going to ask people out in real life…but only for each other. What could possibly go wrong?

If you’re looking for a book filled with sass and wit, then look no further as Andi’s debut novel delivers this plus much more.

The story is about about 3 best friends called Jemima, Simi and Meagan who are all at major turning points in their lives. Jemima is struggling with the third book in her mystery story, her editor wants romance but that area in Jemima’s life is obsolete, but once returning from America she meets Chance, a handsome Australian who loves her books. Simi is heartbroken after another failed relationship and Jemima and Meagan is there to pick up the pieces whilst recovering from heartbreak, Simi is trying to establish her acting career with the help of her best friend and agent, Meagan but like her love life is failing miserably. Meanwhile Meagan is enjoying having a casual relationship with Todd and avoiding any mention of a serious relationship. On a night out, the women decide that they are going to partners for each other and so starts the drama of dates, new beginnings and discovery about their friendship.

I really enjoyed this book, it’s fun, witty and packed with attitude that made for really delightful reading. The women are great characters with a great mix of personalities that really highlighted the dynamics of female relationships. I found myself really engaging with Jemima, as an aspiring author, I was drawn to her writing and the dilemma of finding stories for her characters, whereas Meagan was feisty with a real attitude that really made me admire her honesty. All characters had relatable traits, I even found myself sympathising with Simi and her struggles with relationship.

‘Asking For A Friend’ is a cleverly written and a fun packed story exploring the complexities of female relationship that made for witty and loud out reading.

You can buy ‘Asking For A Friend’ from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops.

Before I Saw You By Emily Houghton

Before I Saw You‘Before I Saw You’ is the latest book by Emily Houghton.

Alfie Mack has been in hospital for months recovering from an accident. A new face on the ward is about as exciting as life gets for him right now, so when someone moves into the bed next to him he’s eager to make friends. But it quickly becomes clear that seeing his neighbour’s face won’t happen any time soon. Alice Gunnersley has been badly burned and can’t even look at herself yet, let alone allow anyone else to see her. She keeps the curtain around her bed firmly closed, but it doesn’t stop Alfie trying to get to know her. And gradually, as he slowly brings Alice out of her shell, might there even be potential for more?

If you enjoyed the hit Netflix series, ‘Love Is Blind’ then you’ll love Emily’s debut novel, as it’s a similar premise. Although, love is through a hospital curtain and not a wall.

The story is seen through the narrative of Alice and Alfie, who are placed on the same ward after both being seriously injured in separate accidents. Once a successful and confident business woman, Alice can no longer look at herself after burning herself in a fire, which left her with 40% scarring, whilst Alfie lost his leg from a car accident. Both are having to adapt to these life changing circumstances and try to start afresh.

Alice deals with this drastic change by remaining silent and hidden away from the other patients on the ward, which only sparks their curiosity more, particularly Alfie who’a drawn to the silent stranger beside him. Gradually over time and with sheer determination, Alfie manages to get Alice to speak by involving her in puzzles and constantly looking for help with crosswords and it makes for fun and warmhearted reading as the pair embark on this new friendship, which initially was quite stilted has turned into a genuine partnership where they can talk openly and freely behind the curtain, baring their souls with judgement.

I loved the characters in this story, Alfie was a genuine sweetheart, who’s cheeky with a kind side and always looking out for others, particularly Alice helping her to overcome her fears and talk freely about her childhood, which has made her into the independent woman that she has become relying on no one. Other supporting characters added some charm to the tale was Mr Peterson, the elderly patient on the ward who was eternal grumpy as well as Nurse Angles, the caring nurse on the ward who was always offering kind words of encouragement.

A stunning debut about new beginnings, ‘Before I Met You’ is a beautifully written story with relatable characters and situations that made for warmhearted reading and will brighten anyone’s day.

You can pre-order ‘Before I Saw You’ from Amazon and will be available from good bookshops from 4th February 2021.

The Mystery Shopper And The Hot Tub By Helen E. Field

The Mystery Shopper And The Hot Tub‘The Mystery Shopper And The Hot Tub’ is the debut novel by Helen E. Field.

All that’s missing from Brooke’s life is a hot tub. Brooke’s bored at home and wants financial independence, but mostly a hot tub and Dean’s a man with traditional values and he doesn’t want Brooke to work. She secretly takes a job at a nearby country house, meeting the incorrigible Lady Townsend. This unlikely friendship, plus some jaw-dropping events, helps Brooke realise that she’s capable of so much more than she thought. Dean is a devoted husband and father, and, knowing what Brooke wants most of all in life, he secretly takes up mystery shopping hoping to make some extra money to pay for it. And if he gets some peace and quiet whilst doing so, all the better. The elaborate web of lies they both weave results in numerous madcap situations, but can their deceit undermine the love that they have.

Brooke and Dean are a young married couple with an outspoken and emotional little girl called Paige. They both have huge aspirations in life, but with little money, these aspirations are limited. Dean knows that Brooke dreams of a hot tub and so decides to take another job on board of his full time job. The job is to become a mystery shopper and this opens new opportunities and experiences that Dean who would never have had a chance to encounter and often ends in hilarious results as Dean tries to make the most of the fantastic opportunities of staying in 5 star hotels and hiding them from Brooke as he wants the time for himself. Meanwhile Brooke is used to being a lady of leisure and letting Dean be the main breadwinner in the family, but wanting the hot tub has spurred a sense of independence and applies for a job working for an elderly socialite called Lady Townsend who introduces Brooke to world of culture and class, that Brook finds fascinating. Between the pair of them Brooke and Dean embark on ridiculous situations and a web of lies all in the name of the lusted after hot tub.

I really enjoyed this story, it’s funny and witty with outspoken personalities that made for delicious reading. I loved Brooke, initially she comes across as quite air-headed and confident but as the story progresses, we discover that even though she’s beautiful, she lacks confidence in herself and with this new job that introduces her to a whole new world, we see her grow in confidence and knowledge, which surprises not only herself but also Dean. The moves at a fast pace that keeps the reader engaged with the colourful dialogue and vivid descriptions of Elephant Close and the market the Brooke likes to attend.

Fun, sassy and over spilling with attitude, ‘The Mystery Shopper And The Hot Tub’ is the first book in a new series by Helen called ‘The De’ath Family Antics’ and if the rest are just like this one, then we’re in for a treat!

You can buy ‘The Mystery Shopper And The Hot Tub’ from Amazon.