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Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2023

Emma’s Anticipated Treasures: Light-hearted Loves

As much as I enjoy darker reads, there’s nothing better than a light-hearted and uplifting story. And if there’s some romance or a pensioner in the pages, even better! Here are the light-hearted books out this year I’m most anticipating.

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Becoming Ted by Matt Cain

SYNOPSIS:
A charming, joyful and surprising story about love, friendship and learning to be true to yourself, Becoming Ted will steal your heart.

Ted Ainsworth has always worked at his family’s ice-cream business in the quiet Lancashire town of St Luke’s-on-Sea.

But the truth is, he’s never wanted to work for the family firm – he doesn’t even like ice-cream, though he’s never told his parents that. When Ted’s husband suddenly leaves him, the bottom falls out of his world.

But what if this could be an opportunity to put what he wants first? This could be the chance to finally follow his secret dream: something Ted has never told anyone …

Published January 19th by Headline
Pre-order here*

The House That Made Us by Alice Cavanagh

SYNOPSIS:
One Day meets UpThe House That Made Us is a love story – and a life story – told through a series of photographs and inspired by a true story
 
When Mac and Marie marry and find a home of their own, Mac takes a snap of them outside their newbuild bungalow, the garden bare and the paint on the front door still wet. It becomes a tradition, this snap, and slowly the photographs build into an album of a fifty-year relationship.
 
Every year they take a photo and though things change around them – the garden matures, the fashions change, they grow older – the one constant is their love. Every year, come rain, come shine, from the Seventies through the decades, every photo tells the story of their love. But life never travels the path you expect it to, though they know that a life with love is a life lived to the full.

Now, in the present day, the photo album belongs to someone who doesn’t know the people in its pages. As they watch the lives from the past unfold, will the truth of their love story be told…?
 
A heart-breaking story about life and love for readers who love Holly Miller, Jojo Moyes and Hazel Prior.

Published January 19th by Simon & Schuster UK
Pre-order here*

Looking Out For Love by Sophia Money-Coutts

SYNOPSIS:
… But is she searching in the right places?

Stella Shakespeare isn’t having a good day, or month come to think of it. She’s been unceremoniously dumped by her boyfriend,cut off from the bank of dad and at thirty-two years old, she doesn’t know what she’s doing with her life.

What Stella really wants is to find love. She wants all-consuming, can’t-think-about-anything-else, can’t-even-manage-to-eat kind of love. What she found beside her in bed that morning wasn’t love. But when a tall, handsome man in a well-fitting suit walks into a Notting Hill pub, she thinks she’s finally found The One.

Everything seems to be falling into place now Stella has met the man of her dreams and has an actual job working with a private investigator nicknamed ‘The Affair Hunter’. Although sadly, life is never that straightforward and Stella starts to question whether she’s been looking for love in the wrong places all along…

Published February 2nd by HQ
Pre-order here*

Someone Else’s Shoes by Jojo Moyes

SYNOPSIS:
A story of mix-ups, mess-ups and making the most of second chances, this is the new novel from international sensation Jojo Moyes, author of Me Before You and The Giver of Stars

Who are you when you are forced to walk in someone else’s shoes?

Meet Sam . . .
She’s not got much, but she’s grateful for what she has: a job she’s just about clinging on to and a family who depend on her for everything. She knows she’s one bad day away from losing it all – and just hopes today isn’t it . . .

Meet Nisha . . .
She’s got everything she always dreamed of – and more: a phenomenally rich husband; an international lifestyle; and . . . she’s just been locked out of all of it after her husband initiates divorce proceedings . . .

Sam and Nisha should never have crossed paths. But after a bag mix-up at the gym, their lives become intertwined – even as they spiral out of control.

Each blames the other as they feel increasingly invisible, forgotten, lost – and desperately alone.

But they’re not.

No woman is an island. Look around. Family. Friends. Strangers.
Even the woman you believe just ruined your life might turn out to be your best friend.
Because together you can do anything – like take back what is yours . . .

Published Februrary 2nd by Michael Joseph
Pre-order here*

Do I Know You? by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka

SYNOPSIS:
After five years’ marriage they’re about to have their first date . . .

Eliza and Graham’s marriage is quietly failing. With their five-year anniversary approaching, neither of them are thrilled about the weeklong getaway they’ve been gifted. The luxury retreat prides itself on being a destination for those in love and those looking to find it – but for Eliza and Graham it’s the last place they want to be.

After a well-meaning guest mistakes Eliza and Graham as being single and introduces them at the hotel bar, they don’t correct him. Suddenly, they’re pretending to be perfect strangers and it’s unexpectedly fun. Eliza and Graham find themselves flirting like it’s their first date.

Everyone at the retreat can see the electric chemistry between Eliza and Graham’s alter egos. But as their game continutes they realize this performance could be the very thing that saves their marriage . . .

Published February 2nd by Pan Macmillan
Pre-order here*

The Vintage Shop of Second Chances by Libby Page

SYNOPSIS:
Among the cobbled streets of the Somerset town of Frome, Lou is embarking on the start of something new. After the death of her beloved mother, she takes a deep breath into the unknown and is opening her own vintage clothes shop.

In upstate New York, Donna has just found out some news about her family which has called into question her whole upbringing. The only clue she has to unlock her past is a picture of a yellow dress, and the fact it is currently on display in a shop in England.

For Maggy, she is facing life as a 70-something divorcee and while she got the house, she’s not sure what to fill it with now her family have moved out. The new vintage shop in town sparks memories of her past and reignites a passion she’s been missing…

Together, can these three women find the answers they are searching for and unlock a second chance at a new life?

It’s never too late to start again…

Published February 16th by Orion Pre-order here*

This Could Be Everything by Eva Rice

SYNOPSIS:
From the author of modern classic The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets comes a feel-good novel about hope, love and the powerful bond between sisters. 
 
It’s 1990. The Happy Mondays are in the charts, a 15-year-old called Kate Moss is on the cover of the Face magazine, and Julia Roberts wears thigh-boots for the poster for a new movie called Pretty Woman
 
February Kingdom is nineteen years old when she is knocked sideways by family tragedy. Then one evening in May she finds an escaped canary in her kitchen and it sparks a glimmer of hope in her. With the help of the bird called Yellow, Feb starts to feel her way out of her own private darkness, just as her aunt embarks on a passionate and all-consuming affair with a married American drama teacher.   
 
THIS COULD BE EVERYTHING is a coming-of-age story with its roots under the pavements of a pre-Richard Curtis-era Notting Hill that has all but vanished. It’s about what happens when you start looking after something more important than you, and the hope a yellow bird can bring… 

Published February 16th by Simon & Schuster UK
Pre-order here*

Not That Kind of Ever After by Luci Adams

SYNOPSIS:
One damsel + one wolf + many, many, many frogs = DISTRESS

Gloriously fun, romantic and feel-good, discover a 21st century London fairytale with an unforgettable twist . . .

Bella Marble is a true, hopeless, despairing romantic. Above all things, even above her wish to be a writer, she wants love.

But when her beautiful best friend moves out of their flat share to live with the most boring ogre in history, and her perfectly paired parents tell her their own love story is coming to an end, Bella’s illusions of a happily ever after start to shatter. If they can’t find ‘the one’, what chance does she have?

Disenchanted, Bella throws herself into looking for love in all the wrong places. London may be fresh out of knights in shining Armani, but it’s got a surplus of frogs – and as Bella learns, kissing frogs can be extremely fun.

But Bella is forgetting the essential rule of all fairytales.

There is nothing more powerful than a first kiss . . .

Published Feburary 16th by Little Brown Book Group
Pre-order here*

One Moment by Becky Hunter

SYNOPSIS:
One moment in time can change everything…

The day Scarlett dies should have been one of the most important of her life. It doesn’t feel fair that she’ll never have the chance to fulfil her dreams. And now, she’s still … here – wherever here is – watching the ripple effect of her death on the lives of those she loved the most.

Evie cannot contemplate her life without Scarlett, and she certainly cannot forgive Nate, the man she blames for her best friend’s death. But Nate keeps popping up when she least expects him to, catapulting Evie’s life in directions she’d never let herself imagine possible. Ways, perhaps, even those closest to her had long since given up on.

If you could go back, knowing everything that happens after, everything that happens because of that one moment in time, would you change the course of history or would you do it all again?

Published March 2nd by Corvus
Pre-order here*

Yours Truly by Abby Jimenez

SYNOPSIS:
A novel of terrible first impressions, hilarious second chances and the joy in finding the perfect match

Dr Briana Ortiz’s life is seriously flatlining. Her divorce is just about finalised, her brother’s running out of time to find a kidney donor, and that promotion she wants…? Oh, that’s probably going to the new man-doctor who’s already registering eighty-friggin’-seven on Briana’s ‘pain in my ass’ scale.

But just when all systems are set to hate, Dr Jacob Maddox completely flips the game . . . by sending Briana a letter. It’s a really good letter. Like the kind that proves that Jacob isn’t actually Satan. Worse, he might be this fantastically funny and subversively likeable guy who’s terrible at first impressions. Because suddenly he and Bri are exchanging letters, sharing lunch dates in her ‘sob closet’ and discussing the merits of freakishly tiny horses.

When Jacob turns out to be the perfect donor for her brother, Bri starts to realise that this quietly sexy new doctor might just be her perfect match, too.

Published April 11th by Piatkus
Pre-order here*

Home Sweet Home by Amy Lavelle

SYNOPSIS:
Don’t miss the next heartwarming, uplifting and painfully relatable book from Amy Lavelle…

‘If you loved Fleabag, you’ll love this’ Laura Kemp on Definitely Fine

Four sisters. One house. It’s about to get messy…

Poppy, Saffron, Rosemary and Sorrell might be sisters, but they could not be more different…

Oldest Poppy has hit all the milestones before turning thirty, but constantly being in control is starting to feel a bit suffocating; peacemaker Saffron will do anything to keep her sisters together even at her own expense; Rosemary has crafted a perfect façade, but cracks in her engagement are beginning to surface; youngest Sorrell is pregnant after a one-night stand, and is determined to do it all on her own for once – without any help from her sisters!

But when they inherit their family home, the four must make the decision to keep or sell the house – and they’re about to discover that no one gets under your skin quite like family…

Can they ever put their differences aside and find a way to move forward together?

Heartwarming, uplifting and hilarious, Home Sweet Home is a novel about sisters, misunderstandings and growing up. Perfect for fans of Emma Gannon, Olivia Beirne and Helly Acton.

Published April 13th by Orion
Pre-order here*

Thirty Days in Paris by Veronica Henry

SYNOPSIS:
Because Paris is always a good idea…

Years ago, Juliet left a little piece of her heart in Paris – and now, separated from her husband and with her children flying the nest, it’s time to get it back!

So she puts on her best red lipstick, books a cosy attic apartment near Notre-Dame and takes the next train out of London.

Arriving at the Gare du Nord, the memories come flooding back: bustling street cafés, cheap wine in candlelit bars and a handsome boy with glittering eyes.

But Juliet has also been keeping a secret for over two decades – and she begins to realise it’s impossible to move forwards without first looking back.

Something tells her that the next thirty days might just change everything…

Published April 13th by Orion
Pre-order here*

Happy Place by Emily Henry

SYNOPSIS:
Two exes. One pact.
Could this holiday change everything?

Harriet and Wyn are the perfect couple – they go together like bread and butter, gin and tonic, Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds.

Every year for the past decade, they have run away from their lives to drink far too much wine and soak up the sea air with their favourite people in the world.

Except this year, they are lying through their teeth. Harriet and Wyn broke up six months ago. And they still haven’t told anyone.

But this is the last time they’ll all be together here. The cottage is for sale, and since they can’t bear to break their best friends’ hearts, they’ll fake it for one more week.

But how can you pretend to be in love – and get away with it – in front of the people who know you best?

Brimming with characters you can’t help but fall for and off-the-charts chemistry, HAPPY PLACE is Emily Henry doing what she does best!

Published April 27th by Viking
Pre-order here*

Found in a Bookshop by Stephanie Butland

SYNOPSIS:
Dear Lost for Words,

We are trying to stay at home . . . I am enclosing a cheque and I hope that you will use it to send us some books. Please choose books that we might think are wonderful
.

Rosemary

Loveday Cardew’s beloved Lost for Words bookshop, along with the rest of York, has fallen quiet. At the very time when people most need books to widen their horizons, or escape from their fears, or enhance their lives, the doors are closed. Then the first letter comes.

Rosemary and George have been married for fifty years. Now their time is running out. They have decided to set out on their last journey together, without ever leaving the bench at the bottom of their garden in Whitby. All they need is someone who shares their love of books.

Suddenly it’s clear to Loveday that she and her team can do something useful in a crisis. They can recommend books to help with the situations their customers find themselves in: fear, boredom, loneliness, the desire for laughter and escape.

And so it begins.

Published April 27th by Headline Review
Pre-order here*

Only Love Can Hurt Like This by Paige Toon

SYNOPSIS:
Neither of them expected to fall in love. But sometimes life has other plans.

When Wren realises her fiancé is in love with someone else, she thinks her heart will never recover.

On the other side of the world, Anders lost his wife four years ago and is still struggling to move on.

Wren hopes that spending the summer with her dad and step-family on their farm in Indiana will help her to heal. There, amid the cornfields and fireflies, she and Anders cross paths and their worlds are turned upside-down again.

But Wren doesn’t know that Anders is harbouring a secret, and if he acts on any feelings he has for Wren it will have serious fall-out for everyone.

Walking away would hurt Wren more than she can imagine. But, knowing the truth, how can she possibly stay?

Published April 27th by Penguin UK
Pre-order here*

Preloved by Lauren Bravo

SYNOPSIS:
A love story about things… 

Gwen’s life has stalled. She’s in her mid-thirties, perpetually single, her friends are busy procreating in the country and conversations with her parents seem to revolve entirely around herbaceous borders and the council’s wheelie-bin timetable. Above all she’s lonely. But then, isn’t everyone?
 
When Gwen’s made redundant from a job she drifted into a decade ago and never left, she realises it’s time to make a change. Over what might be the best – and most solitary – meal she’s ever eaten, Gwen vows to find something meaningful to do with her life, reconnect with her family and friends – and finally book herself a dentist appointment.
 
Her search for meaning soon leads her to volunteer in a local charity shop where she both literally and metaphorically unloads her emotional baggage. With the help of the weird and wonderful people she meets in the shop and the donated items bursting with untold stories that pass through its doors, Gwen must finally address the events and choices that led her to this point and find a way to move forward with bravery, humanity and more regular dental care.
 
Brimming with life, love and the stories bound up in even the most everyday items, Preloved is a tale about friendship, loss, being true to oneself no matter the expectations – and the enduring power and joy of charity shops.

Published April 27th by Simon & Schuster
Pre-order here*

The Cassandra Complex by Holly Smale

SYNOPSIS:
Cassandra Penelope Dankworth is a creature of habit.

She likes what she likes (museums, jumpsuits, her boyfriend Will) and strongly dislikes what she doesn’t (mess, change, her boss drinking out of her mug). Her life runs in a pleasing, predictable order. Until now.

She’s just been dumped.
She’s just been fired.
Her local café has run out of banana muffins.

Then, something truly unexpected happens: Cassie discovers she can go back and change the past.

Now, Cassie should be able to find a way to fix the life she accidentally obliterated. And with time on her side, how hard can it be…?

Published May 11th by Century
Pre-order here*

The True Love Experiment by Christina Lauren

SYNOPSIS:
Find out why readers LOVE Christina Lauren . . .

A romance novelist and a documentary filmmaker set out to craft the ultimate movie romance – but only if they can keep their own feelings for each other under control in this electrifying love story from the author of The Unhoneymooners.

Published May 16th by Piatkus
Pre-order here*

Life and Otter Miracles by Hazel Prior

SYNOPSIS:
19-year-old Phoebe and her courier father Al have recently moved to Devon, to a small cottage with a river at the end of the garden.

Struggling with her health, Phoebe doesn’t go out much these days. Instead, she spends her time playing detective – trying to deduce from her father’s deliveries what kinds of lives her neighbours lead.

When Phoebe finds an abandoned baby otter by the river, it’s just the push she needs to finally step into her new community. Taking the otter to the local sanctuary, she feels a joy that she has not felt in a very long time. But she soon starts to suspect that something is amiss at the local sanctuary – and she will need to put her detective skills to good use if she wants to save the otters.

A gorgeous feel-good novel about a young woman finding the courage to step back into the world, with the help of new friends and some very cute otters.

Published May 25th by Penguin UK
Pre-order here*

Seven Exes by Lucy Vine

SYNOPSIS:
Esther is out with her two friends, bemoaning her lack of relationship, when she finds a magazine from the noughties. Seeking comfort – and a laugh – she turns to the dating advice only to find an article that feels a little too close to home. According to the journalist, there are seven people a woman will date before finding the one:

The First Love, The Work Mistake, The Friend with Benefits, The Overlap, The Missed Chance, The Bastard and The Serious One. 

Her friends laugh but Esther realises each of her exes fits these roles perfectly. Deciding that she’s mistaken her true love in the reject pile she decides to contact each of her exes to find out which is the one that got away…

Published May 25th by Simon & Schuster UK
Pre-order here*

Lovestruck by Laura Jane Williams

SYNOPSIS:
This isn’t one love story. It’s two.

Becca Calloway is calling it: she’s ready for Mr Right, and she’s ready now.

She even goes as far as to hold a manifestation ceremony for him – and when she receives a text from her ex five minutes later, she knows it’s a sign.

The problem is, she doesn’t know which way it’s pointing…

Should Becca reply and reignite things with her old flame Mike? Or delete and block, moving forward with the new man in her life?

Becca has one choice, with two ways this could go. And in Lovestruck, you’re about to see them both…

Published June 8th by Cornerstone
Pre-order here*

Love, Theoretically

SYNOPSIS:
From the author of tiktok sensations and global bestsellers The Love Hypothesis and Love on the Brain 

Rival physicists collide in a vortex of academic feuds and fake dating shenanigans in this delightfully STEMinist romcom.

The many lives of theoretical physicist Elsie Hannaway have finally caught up with her. By day, she’s an adjunct professor, toiling away at grading labs and teaching thermodynamics in the hopes of landing tenure. By other day, Elsie makes up for her non-existent paycheck by offering her services as a fake girlfriend, tapping into her expertly honed people-pleasing skills to embody whichever version of herself the client needs. 

Honestly, it’s a pretty sweet gig – until her carefully constructed Elsie-verse comes crashing down. Because Jack Smith, the annoyingly attractive and arrogant older brother of her favourite client, turns out to be the cold-hearted experimental physicist who ruined her mentor’s career and undermined the reputation of theorists everywhere. And he’s the same Jack Smith who rules over the physics department at MIT, standing right between Elsie and her dream job. 

Elsie is prepared for an all-out war of scholarly sabotage but… those long, penetrating looks? Not having to be anything other than her true self when she’s with him? Will falling into an experimentalist’s orbit finally tempt her to put her most guarded theories on love into practice? 

Published June 13th by Sphere
Pre-order here*

The Man of Her Dream by Sarra Manning

No synopsis available

Published in June by Hodder & Stoughton

The Air Raid Book Club by Annie Lyons

SYNOPSIS:
As the bombs began to fall, the book club kept their hopes alive…

The most emotional, uplifting and captivating story of wartime London and the extraordinary power of books to shine a light and draw people together in the darkest of days, inspired by true events.

London, 1938. Bookseller Gertie Bingham is facing difficult times, having just lost her beloved husband, Harry, and with a lingering sadness at never having been able to have a child of her own. Struggling to face running the bookshop she and Harry opened together, Gertie is preparing to sell up and move away when she is asked if she would be willing to take in a young Jewish refugee from Germany. Gertie is unsure and when sullen teenager Hedy Fischer arrives, Gertie fears she has nothing left to give the troubled girl.

But when the German bombers come and the lights go out over London, Gertie and Hedy realise that joining forces will make them stronger, and that books have the power to bring young and old together and unite a community in need in its darkest hour…

Published July 11th by Headline Review
Pre-order here*

The Art of Belonging by Eleanor Ray

SYNOPSIS:
Grace’s life is perfectly fine, thank you very much. A widow of seventy-two, she lives quietly, and although hearing a little more from her daughter and granddaughter would be nice, she has her health, her friends, her octogenarian yoga (however reluctantly attended) and most of all her weekly club where she creates exquisite, miniature train sets.

However, when her estranged daughter rings her in shock, about to lose her home, Grace invites Amelia and her daughter Charlotte to live with her. With them, they bring all the messy, complicated feelings from the past, and the more Grace gets to know her granddaughter Charlotte, the more she adores her. As Charlotte enlists her help to solve a mystery at school, the small family begin to find each other again. Grace is about to discover that although opening her heart again may be painful, in the end it’s the only thing that makes life worth living . .

Published July 20th by Piatkus
Pre-order here*

The Little Italian Hotel by Phaedra Patrick

SYNOPSIS:
When a relationship expert’s own marriage falls apart, she invites four strangers to Italy for a vacation of healing and second chances in this uplifting new novel from the author of The Messy Lives of Book People.

Ginny Splinter, acclaimed radio host and advice expert, prides herself on knowing what’s best for others. So she’s sure her husband, Adrian, will love the special trip to Italy she’s planned for their thirtieth wedding anniversary. But when Ginny presents the gift to Adrian, he surprises her with his own very different plan—a divorce.

Beside herself with heartache, Ginny impulsively invites four heartbroken listeners to join her in Italy instead while live on air. From hiking the hills of Bologna to riding a gondola in Venice to sharing stories around the dining table of the little Italian hotel, Ginny and her newfound company embark on a vacation of healing.

However, when Adrian starts to rethink their relationship, Ginny must decide whether to commit to her marriage or start afresh, alone. And an unexpected stranger may hold the key to a very different future… Sunny, tender and brimming with charm, The Little Italian Hotel explores marriage, identity and reclaiming the present moment—even if it means leaving the past behind.

Published July 20th by HQ
Pre-order here*

The Sweetest Revenge by Lizzy Dent

SYNOPSIS:
Bridesmaids meets Emily in Paris–in London–this is a hilarious and heartfelt story of one woman who escaped to London after her moment of ridiculous revenge on an ex went viral, and the life-changing summer she discovers new love and her best self–and finally gets the sweetest revenge.

“I love-love-love Lizzy Dent.”–Emily Henry, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Book Lovers

Her past is a mess. But her present is about to get delicious.

Amy is more than the one disastrous night that ended in drunken revenge on her boss/ex-boyfriend’s canvas top Audi. The night that tanked her rising TV career and led to a hasty move to London for a fresh start. She is thirty-two years of awesomeness. At least, that’s what Amy tells herself every morning before trekking to her mediocre job making trailers at a failing British TV channel.

Two years later, she’s finally starting to believe it. But just as sparks fly between her and her handsome new downstairs neighbor and she starts to make inroads at work, the ex-boyfriend who wrecked her life is hired as her new boss and past and present are about to epically collide.

Published July 25th by Viking

The Wake-Up Call by Beth O’Leary

SYNOPSIS:
‘Beth O’Leary is that rare, one-in-a-million talent who can make you laugh, swoon, cry and ache all in the same book’ Emily Henry

Two sworn enemies. A failing hotel. One chance to save the season…

It’s the busiest season of the year, and Forest Manor Hotel is quite literally falling apart. So when Izzy and Lucas are given the same shift on the hotel’s front desk, they have no choice but to put their differences aside and see it through.

The hotel won’t stay afloat beyond Christmas without some sort of miracle. But when Izzy returns a guest’s lost wedding ring, the reward convinces management that this might be the way to fix everything. With four rings still sitting in lost property, the race is on for Izzy and Lucas to save their beloved hotel – and their jobs.

As their bitter rivalry turns into something much more complicated, Izzy and Lucas begin to wonder if there’s more at stake here than the hotel’s future. Can the two of them make it through the season with their hearts intact?

Published September 28th by Quercus
Pre-order here*

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Are any of these on your TBR? Let me know in the comments below

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xxx

*These purchase links are affiliate links

Categories
Blog Tours Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: Before I Saw You by Emily Houghton

Published: February 4th, 2021
Publisher: Bantam Press
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: New Adult Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Medical Romance

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this uplifting debut. Thank you Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Bantam Press for the gifted copy of the book.

SYNOPSIS:

CAN YOU FALL IN LOVE WITH SOMEONE YOU’VE NEVER SEEN?

Alice and Alfie are strangers. But they sleep next to each other every night.

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?

MY REVIEW:

“Our scars are simply the marks of our stories. They show we’ve lived our life, and most of all that we have survived it. Don’t hide your story away in the shadows.”

Can you fall in love with someone you’ve never seen? Not even a picture? Just what is it that makes us fall in love with someone? Those are the questions explored in this wonderful debut. A sheer delight from beginning to end, I had a feeling I was going to enjoy this book but was unprepared for how much it would reach into my heart and soul. This is a book that makes you feel a rainbow of emotions, giving you a warm glow inside like porridge on a cold day

The story is told by Alice and Alfie, each taking alternating chapters. These are characters I cared about tremendously; both individually and as a couple. I was rooting for them. And while I loved both characters, there was something just a little special about Alfie. I can’t imagine anyone disliking him (even though Alice did try). He is one of those people who has a spark about them, brings joy, and makes life better for everyone he meets. He sees all strangers as a friend he just hasn’t met yet and can’t bear to see anyone suffer, so when the silent, stoic Alice arrives and initially resists his charms he is determined to find a way to help her. I loved how they were polar opposites and reading as he tried to slowly coax her out of her shell while she battles to resist. 

But it isn’t just the two main characters who are so richly drawn, compelling and memorable. It’s every character. No matter how small their part, they leap from the page. Nurse Angels and Mr Peterson each have a particular place in my heart and lit up the page every time they were featured. I know I would have loved a nurse like Nurse Angles when I was in hospital for six weeks as a child. The only nurse I have any real memory of from my time there is a mean one who seemed to go out of her way to make sure we were all as miserable as she was.

Both Alfie and Alice suffered traumatic events that led them to be on the Moira Gladstone Ward and are still dealing with the harrowing physical and psychological aftermath of what happened. The author handles these issues in a raw, realistic way, but also with sensitivity and I was moved to tears a few times. But she balances this with joy, love and humour in abundance, including the sharp, witty dialogue that makes this feel so authentic.  

Charming, uplifting and pure escapism, this fantastic debut would make the perfect romantic movie. I highly recommend this one. Just don’t forget the tissues. My one tiny niggle with it was how it ended so abruptly. I needed more to the story after investing so much. I have seen NetGalley reviewers talk about an epilogue that wasn’t included in my ARC so I am hopeful that including that creates the perfect end to the story. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Emily Houghton is an ex digital specialist and full-time creative writer. She originally comes from Essex but has been living in London for the past 8 years. Emily is a trained yoga and spin teacher, completely obsessed with dogs and has dreamt of being an author ever since she could hold a pen..

Houghton’s debut novel, BEFORE I SAW YOU, is a commercial love story and will be published by Transworld in the UK in January 2021 and by Simon & Schuster in the US.

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Please read the reviews from other bloggers on the tour.

Happy reading Bibliophiles. Until next time, Emma xx

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

The Extraordinary Hope of Dawn Brightside by Jessica Ryn

Published: November 26th, 2020
Publisher: HQ
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Uplit, Contemporary Romance, Coming-of-Age Fiction

Today is my stop on the tour for this wonderful debut. Thank you to HQ for the invitation to take part and the eBook ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

She’s not lost. She’s just waiting to be found…

Dawn Elisabeth Brightside has been running from her past for twenty-two years and two months, precisely.

So when she is offered a bed in St Jude’s Hostel for the Homeless, it means so much more than just a roof over her head.

But with St Jude’s threatened with closure, Dawn worries that everything is about to crumble around her all over again.

Perhaps, with a little help from her new friends, she can find a way to save this light in the darkness?

And maybe, just maybe, Dawn will finally have a place to call home….

The utterly charming feel-good debut novel of 2020 to curl up with.

MY REVIEW:

“And if being at St Jude’s has taught me anything, it’s that you need to find your tribe. The rest of the journey’s not designed to be a solo one. Group tickets always offer the best value.”

The Extraordinary Hope of Dawn Brightside is a truly special book. The definition of ‘uplit’, it is one of those books that feels like a warm hug or a hot chocolate on a cold day. It will make you laugh and cry. It will steal your heart and make a permanent home in your soul.

I adored the colourful cast of compelling and very real characters. I liked that the author showed their humanity and personality rather than making them a cliché. She makes their experiences leap from the page, transports you into their world and makes you live every moment alongside them.

Dawn is quite the character. She is damaged, flawed and unreliable but also hopeful, joyous and endearing. Despite being down on her luck and going through some very traumatic things, she sees the silver lining – the ‘bright side’ you might say – and encourages others to do the same. She cares deeply about others and becomes a real light in the lives of those around her. She is a character I won’t forget and I challenge anyone not to fall in love with her too.

This was a very nostalgic book for me as my father was a manager for the YMCA and we lived on-site for three years when I was twelve to fifteen. The experience made a huge impact and is a big part of who I am today. The residents became like family and we are still in touch with a number of them even now. All the memories of that time came flooding back while reading and it was clear to me that the author knew her stuff. This felt authentic. So I wasn’t surprised to learn she’d worked with the homeless and had even lived on-site too.

But while this is a very uplifting book, it also addresses serious topics such as mental health, addiction and homelessness. She examines these things on a deeper level, commenting on the perception and judgement of the homeless or with mental health or addiction issues, the underfunding of homeless hostels and the degradation of applying for sickness benefits, something I personally related to as someone unable to work because of chronic illness. But she has a talent for doing all of this without bringing the mood down, balancing gritty realism with a humour and optimism that is reminiscent of Dawn.

Addictive, heartbreaking, hopeful, evocative, entertaining, warm and emotionally resonant, this is a remarkable debut. This book has arrived at the perfect time; Dawn’s kindness and positivity is something we all need more of right now. READ THIS BOOK!

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Jessica Ryn is a former midwife and homeless resettlement worker. She has recently completed her MA in Creative Writing at CCCU, and her stories have been shortlisted for the Kimberly Chambers’ Kickstarter Award, Wordsmag and the Val Wood Prize for Creative Writing. When she’s not scribbling away, Jessica can be found meandering through the woods, reading stories that pull on the feel-strings and eating yoghurt-covered skittles. Jessica lives in Dover with her husband, two children and their high-spirited springer spaniel. The Extraordinary Hope of Dawn Brightside is her debut novel.

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