It’s such a pleasure today to be joining the blog tour and sharing my review of The Secret To Happiness by Jessica Redland, published on 3rd September by Boldwood Books. My thanks to the publishers for the invitation and support, and for my advance reading copy, provided via netgalley.
Every one of Jessica’s books has become my new favourite when I’ve read it – the last was Callie’s Christmas Wish (you’ll find my review here), and although I thought nothing could be much better than Bear With Me (review here), it became my new number one. But this latest book is something particularly special – her first book to be published by a major publisher (and a new and rather exciting publisher too!), and I’m delighted that so many more people will discover what an excellent writer she is.
Everyone deserves a chance at happiness…
Danniella is running from her past, so when she arrives at the beautiful seaside resort of Whitsborough Bay, the last thing on her mind is making friends. After all, they might find out her secrets…
Alison is fun, caring and doesn’t take herself too seriously. But beneath the front, she is a lost soul, stuck in a terrible relationship, with body confidence issues and no family to support her. All she really needs is a friend.
Karen’s romance has taken a back seat to her fitness business. But she doesn’t want to give up on love quite yet. If only those mysterious texts would stop coming through …
When the women meet at their local bootcamp, a deep friendship blossoms. And soon they realise that the secret to happiness is where they least expected to find it…
An uplifting story of friendship and finding the strength to come to terms with the past.
I’ve always so enjoyed Jessica Redland’s writing, but this one… I must say it was everything I hoped it would be, but also so much more than that. Her other books have had a single character as their focus – lots of themes and side stories, but only one real heroine at their centre. This one’s much more ambitious, with three women at its heart, and a story that’s told from three points of view – that’s a complexity not seen in her earlier books, but she carries it off quite magnificently.
I have an almost irresistible urge to tell you the whole story, and all about those parts when I felt angry or upset or joyously happy – but it’s ok, I’m not going to. I’d like to tell you about some of the male characters too, all really well drawn, who often turned out to be something of a disappointment to the women in their lives (although there were others I wanted to hug) – and again, I won’t. (But I really have to mention Dave, an unredeemable selfish git who made me want to kick him where it hurts on a few occasions…).
But instead I’ll just tell you that the author has created three quite wonderful central female characters, all with issues in their presents, real sadness in their pasts, all uncertain what their futures may hold, all facing a struggle when their personal happy endings look quite impossible.
I loved Alison from the very beginning, and hurt for her: Karen with her professional and efficient veneer took a little longer, and Danniella’s secrets made her intriguing but initially more difficult to understand. By the book’s close, I loved them all unconditionally: the powerful friendship that develops between them is so well drawn, with their support for each other as they try to find themselves, and work out what will bring them the happiness they all deserve.
There are quite a few serious themes and darker edges in this book, all sensitively handled: there’s an intriguing central mystery in Karen’s stalker storyline, well worked through and keeping you guessing ( I was wrong!), and a nicely done bit of hidden history that shapes Danniella’s life and actions. There are tears at times, but there’s also plenty of joy and laughter, the wonderfully created Whitsborough Bay backdrop, and that beautiful warmth that always distinguishes the author’s excellent writing.
This was a very special book indeed… and I absolutely loved it.
About the author
Jessica Redland is the author of nine novels including Searching for Steven which are all set around the fictional location of Whitsborough Bay. Inspired by her hometown of Scarborough she writes uplifting women’s fiction which has garnered many devoted fans.