‘What Happens In France’ by Carol Wyer ⭐⭐⭐.5

 

“She stood and took her place in front of the camera… It was now or never.”

Bryony Masters has been looking for her long-lost sister, Hannah, for years, but when their father has a stroke her search takes on a new urgency.  So when primetime game show, What Happens In France, puts a call-out for new contestants, Bryony spots the ultimate public platform to find her reality TV-obsessed sister, and finally reunite their family.

With the help of handsome teammate Lewis, it’s not long before she’s on a private jet heading for the stunning beauty of rural France. With a social media star dog, a high maintenance quiz show host and a cast of truly unique characters, Bryony and Lewis have their work cut out for them to stay on the show and in the public eye.

Yet as the audience grows and the grand prize beckons, they find the search that brought them together may just fulfil more than one heart’s wish..

This heartwarming romantic comedy of friendship, family and laugh-out-loud adventures is perfect for fans of Kirsty Greenwood, Colleen Coleman and Marian Keyes.

Thank you to NetGalley, Canelo and Carol Wyer for the chance to read and review this book.

Thirty years ago Bryony’s 16-year-old sister, Hannah, ran away from home and has never been heard of since. Bryony has always blamed herself and is sure her parents do too. She has tried everything to find her sister: the police, the press, private investigators, and her blog “Searching For Hannah” that she still updates regularly. When her father suffers a massive stroke and they are told he will not survive another Bryony realises she’s running out of time to put her family back together and knows she must find a way, any way, to find Hannah and bring her home.

When a new show, “What Happens In…” is announced and puts out a call for contestants Bryony sees the opportunity she’s been waiting for. Not only would getting on the show give her a huge audience to make aware of her sister’s disappearance and plead for help in finding her, but Hannah was a massive game show fan so there’s a chance she could tune in herself. With the help of her best friend Melinda she completes the application and waits to see if she’s chosen.

When she’s invited to audition Bryony is surprised to see a familiar face amongst the other hopefuls, Lewis, who she recently met at a get together at her best friend’s house. The two had instantly hit it off so when they find they have both been successful in their auditions and have to partner with someone for the show, they ask to work together. Their wish granted they are soon on a private jet on their way to France for a week of surprise challenges and a battle to stay on the show and raise awareness of Bryony’s quest to find her sister.

I don’t read many romantic comedies but when one is written by one of my must-read authors I can’t say no, especially when the plot sounds so fun and novel. While the book did start slow for me I found once we got to the part where Bryony is heading off to France and taking part in the show I couldn’t stop reading. I wasn’t surprised to find out how much research the author had done before writing this book as the chapters about the show were hilarious and full of great little details that only someone “in the know” would think of. The challenges were fun to read and I learned a lot myself when the characters were being quizzed about their general knowledge. The live broadcasts added a great element of tension as you were on the edge of your seat along with the contestants waiting to find out who was going home each night.

There were an array of colourful characters among the other contestants, particularly Oscar and his Instagram famous dog who were probably my favourite duo of all the characters, and Jim, who was what you imagine every Dad/Grandad to be. I liked Bryony and how the letters to her sister she wrote via her blog gave us a gradual insight into what happened when Hannah left and why Bryony is so sure it’s her fault. I can’t imagine how heartbreaking it must be to have someone you love missing, with no idea if they’re alive or dead for thirty long years, so I was definitely rooting for the plan to work. The dynamic between Lewis and Bryony was another thing I liked about the story. Their jovial and playful repartee made me think there was a burgeoning romance behind their friendship. Once again I was hoping Bryony would get a happy ending with Lewis, who seemed to be a lovely and decent guy.

Overall What Happens In France is a funny, interesting story about love, family and finding the truth. I learned some new trivia and now want to go on holiday to Brittany as it sounds so beautiful. An entertaining and easy read that is perfect for fans of romantic comedies, and even for those who don’t usually read them like me.

Out January 28th

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