I’m sure many might have noticed by now that most of the books I read are scheduled, the reading windows carefully planned, each review timed to meet the demands of a blog tour or to coincide with a publication date. But every now and then, it’s rather nice to depart from that schedule a little – and when I read Penny’s Antique Shop of Memories and Treasures by Helena Fairfax on a sunny afternoon in the garden, just because I wanted to, I think it might have doubled my pleasure.
Previously published as The Antique Love – and I’ve just realised it was already lurking in the depths of my kindle – this lovely contemporary romance was self-published in October 2018 and is available for kindle (and free to read through Kindle Unlimited) and also in paperback. My thanks to Helena for sending me a kindle copy – not with a request to review, but just because she thought I might enjoy it. And I most certainly did…
One rainy day in London, Wyoming man Kurt Bold walks into an antique shop off the King’s Road and straight into the dreams of its owner, Penny Rosas. Kurt certainly looks every inch the cowboy hero…but he soon brings Penny’s dreams to earth with a thump. His job is in the logical world of finance – and as far as Kurt is concerned, romance is just for dreamers.
But when Kurt hires Penny to help refurbish his Victorian house near Richmond Park, it’s not long before the logical heart he has guarded so carefully is opening up to new emotions, in a most disturbing way…
I might just gush a little about this one – with no apologies whatsoever. If you love feel-good romance, a happy ending and a few twists and turns that throw obstacles in the way and add a bit more depth to a nice straightforward love story, then you’re going to love it every bit as much as I did. Because it was an October release, you’ll notice that a lot of other reviews tell you about reading it with hot chocolate, in front of a roaring fire – but I guarantee it can just as happily read poolside or just about anywhere in the sunshine. And I might just be a faster reader than some, but I thought its length was quite right too – at around 230 pages (a little longer than a novella, a tad shorter than most novels) there’s plenty of room for character development and a few sub-plots, no unnecessary padding, and you can read it in one long blissful sitting.
I so loved the characters – Penny’s unashamedly romantic with her heart displayed on her sleeve, Kurt’s the logical, level-headed one who sees marriage as the obvious next step in his plan for life. He walks into Penny’s shop, where every item she sells has a story and the special pieces are only sold to the people she feels right for them: she spots his boots, the tanned wrinkles at the corners of his eyes, smells the open spaces of a cattle ranch in Wyoming, and is convinced he must be a cowboy. Instead, he’s an accountant – with his own corporate practice, and a body that looks every bit as enticing in a sharp suit – and that’s exactly what she needs as she tries to sort out the shop’s paperwork after the abrupt departure of her business partner. But Kurt needs Penny too – he has marriage in mind, and she’s the perfect person to style and furnish his new house and make it a home. They’re really total opposites – she can’t understand his dependence on logic, and he seems to think of her as his “kid sister”. It’s really never going to go anywhere, is it?
There’s a strong back-story – Penny’s family history, and the reasons why Kurt is so dead-set against romance – and a few well drawn supporting characters to add a little more depth and drama. And the main arc of the story is just wonderful – a few misunderstandings, neither character revealing what they really feel, a few moments when that happy ending looks like it’s just not going to happen. I particularly loved the dialogue in this book – the exchanges between the two main characters sparkle and fizz, the light humour is so perfectly judged, and there’s a warmth about the whole that I found absolutely enchanting. And as for the ending – it was so thoroughly lovely, one of those unforgettable cinematic romantic moments, and brought a tear to my eye and an enormous smile to my face.
This was such a special book – everything I wanted it to be, and quite beautifully written. If you have any romance in your soul, do give this one a try – I thought it was pretty near perfect.
About the author
Helena Fairfax is a freelance editor and author. She is addicted to reading and will read the cornflakes packet if there is nothing else to hand. Helena writes romantic novels in which women take the centre stage. She is also the author of a history of the lives of women in Halifax, West Yorkshire, in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Readers can keep in touch via Helena’s website , where she blogs about books and editing, or else subscribe to Helena’s newsletter for book news, photos of her beloved Yorkshire moors, gossip, and the occasional free stuff – use this link to subscribe. Helena can also be found on Twitter and Facebook.