It’s a pleasure today to be joining the blog tour for Anything for Love by Gracie Bond, recently published for kindle, available via Amazon in the UK and US, with the paperback to be available soon. Every so often, it’s just impossible to turn a book down – that lovely cover was what first drew my eye, and when I saw the mention of the Whitby setting there was no way I could resist. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation and support, and to the author for the advance reading e-copy for review.
Leah Jensen, Yorkshire lass born and bred, needs money and she’ll do anything – yes, anything – to get it. Her Grandad Thomas is in pain and the cost of an operation on his bad knee is way beyond the family’s means. Leah tries everything to earn the fee – but in the end, and like so many before her, she turns to the world’s oldest profession.
Madam Butterfly’s exclusive escort agency in London is a different world to where Leah comes from. In Whitby, the sea air is sweet, and legends of Dracula jostle with jet-mining and whaling history; it’s a place where dog lovers meet and tourists come to marvel at the views.
Leah may be out of her comfort zone, but one daring, brief encounter will bring many surprises in this memorable romantic comedy full of pithy Yorkshire humour.
If I’m going to recommend a book – and, in case you doubt it, I really am! – I think it’s only fair to mention some of its features I wasn’t so keen on, don’t you? This book is far, far too long at 477 pages – and if there was an editor involved, I suspect they’re now lying in a corner somewhere, wondering where it all went wrong. Calling it “a Whitby romance” is a distinct disappointment, as most of the action takes place elsewhere – and that dog-friendly cafe idea, prominent on the lovely cover, largely disappears beneath the weight of everything else going on. There’s a gay character – Joey, Leah’s cousin – whose camp portrayal rather feels like a throwback to the 1970s. And throwing absolutely everything you love into a book – the dogs, the horses, the Northumberland beach, even the nod to Jane Austen – without at some point calling “enough” can be a mistake.
But all that said – and Gracie, I do apologise – I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I might have been a little limp by the end – the pace is frenetic and relentless – but I suspect this pensioner reader was probably never really part of its target audience. Its sheer exuberance and enthusiasm is highly contagious, but the thing I loved most about it was its heart. There’s so much family in the book – the motivation for Leah’s early actions, her love between her and Grandad Thomas, the mother/child relationship, the importance of the father/child relationship, Dan’s relationship with his mother – and it’s all exceptionally well done.
And as for the story itself – there was imagination, originality and invention, and a few developments and set pieces that quite took my breath away (and not just the wing-walking, bungee jumping and water-skiing stunts…). I loved the developing relationship at the story’s core – unlikely, fraught with complications, heading for the rocks at times, but rarely less than strong and convincing. The key characters (yes, even the slightly suspect Joey) really win your heart: there are others who are rarely more than caricatures, particularly the baddies, but I thought that was entirely forgivable. And as for the ever-present humour, with its distinctive Yorkshire accent – well, there were times when even this miserable old sod found herself whooping and laughing out loud.
The book might not have been quite what I was expecting, but I’m happy to shout out loud that I really did enjoy it. I’m so glad I joined the tour and read the book, and I will look forward to trying a book by Gracie Bond again – but please, make it around 350 pages long, a slightly simpler story, and one that won’t leave me feeling quite as exhausted!
About the author
Gracie Bond loves a good romantic comedy, either to read or to watch on Netflix. Her favourite go-to novel is Pride and Prejudice – and she’s always happy to watch Bridget Jones any time of the day. Among Gracie’s interests are Newfoundland dogs, horses, and handsome Yorkshire men. Her idea of fun would be to ride a spirited horse along a Northumberland beach, followed by a pack of her favourite dogs.
Gracie lives in Yorkshire with her partner John and she has close connections with Whitby, the setting for this novel.