I’m delighted today to be joining the blog tour for The Book Lovers series by Victoria Connelly – with a big thank you to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation, because this is a series I’ve been meaning to try for rather a long time. I chose to read the first in the series, The Book Lovers, first published in 2015 by Notting Hill Press: the kindle version is available free for Prime members and via Kindle Unlimited, and it’s also available as an audiobook and in paperback.
I know I’ve mentioned before that I have a few – well, actually quite a number! – of Victoria Connelly’s books on my kindle already, having been convinced that I’d love her writing. I did read (and love) The Heart of the Garden, but sadly wasn’t able to review – and I just couldn’t fit in One Last Summer for the blog tour back in July 2019, but Victoria did write a lovely guest post (you’ll find it here).
But at last I’ve read one, and I can share my review – and having done so, I really want to go on and read the other three in the series, because this book was just gorgeous. Sadly I just can’t go on to read them all (other authors might be a bit miffed if I did), but I do understand every one can be read as a stand-alone: Rules for a Successful Book Club, Natural Born Readers and Scenes from a Country Bookshop are all free via KU. But I will most definitely be reading more from Victoria Connelly – I’m reading The Beauty of Broken Things for the June blog tour (due for publication on 9th June, and available for preorder), and I’m very much looking forward to it.
But let’s take a closer look at The Book Lovers…
Author Callie Logan never expected to swap her life in London for one in rural Suffolk but, after the breakdown of her marriage, she decides that a fresh start is just what she needs. Finding Owl Cottage in the tiny village of Newton St Clare, Callie determines to give up on love and throw herself into her work. But fate seems to have other ideas and she soon has two very different men vying for her attention.
First there’s Leo who likes to live on the wild side which usually means taking his dates foraging in the local woods for their supper. Then there’s Sam Nightingale, owner of Nightingale’s bookshop. Sam, recovering from a divorce, has also vowed to embrace the single life. That is, until he meets Callie.
But is Callie willing to risk her heart again and, if she is, will she make the right choice?
The Book Lovers is the first in an exciting new series by the bestselling author of The Rose Girls and A Weekend with Mr Darcy.
This book was just so lovely in every way – beautifully written, with strong characters, a wonderfully drawn setting, and a romance that was everything I wanted it to be. All that, and books too – how perfect…
Callie herself won my heart from the very beginning – a children’s author looking for a fresh start at Owl Cottage in the small Suffolk town of Newton St Clare after escaping her toxic marriage. And, as chance would have it, it’s the perfect choice for a writer and book lover: a thriving annual literary festival, a book club in the making, and a cluster of bookshops owned by the Nightingale family. Callie has an immediate affinity with Sam, who runs the shop that sells used books – they sniff books together, swoon over covers and illustrations, and their every exchange has that touch of magic only a shared love of books can bring.
But Sam’s not the only man in Callie’s life – Leo, after their rather unusual introduction, fosters her love for the countryside and everything in it, and introduces her to its simple pleasures. I really liked their relationship, as he turned her – very much a “townie” – into a lover of the outdoors. Their first “date” is just perfect – vividly described, and one of those moments that really stayed with me.
But this book is a lot more than that central triangle of relationships and its resolution – we’re also introduced to the whole large and chaotic Nightingale family, the warmth of their relationships (such a contrast with Callie’s own experience), their family Sunday lunches delightfully described, with every individual perfectly set up for their full stories to be told in the other books in the series. I grew particularly fond of Grandpa Joe and the poignancy of his story, and his presence at Sam’s bookshop with the teasing and eavesdropping is so well done.
The whole story has a gentleness about its telling, a lightness that makes it a real pleasure to read – there are some light touches of humour, but also a few fleeting touches of conflict and darkness, and enough substance in Callie’s background story to ground it in the real world. It has an exceptional warmth about it – this is a book you read with a smile on your face at all times as you escape into its beautifully drawn world. And I must add that although its the first book in a series – oh, I really do want to read them all! – it’s quite complete in itself as a story with beginning, middle and perfect end. I thoroughly enjoyed this one…
About the author
Victoria Connelly studied English literature at Worcester University, got married in a medieval castle in the Yorkshire Dales and now lives in rural Suffolk with her artist husband, a young springer spaniel and a flock of ex-battery hens.
She is the author of two bestselling series, Austen Addicts and The Book Lovers, as well as many other novels and novellas. Her first published novel, Flights of Angels, was made into a film in 2008 by Ziegler Films in Germany. The Runaway Actress was shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Romantic Comedy Novel award.
Ms Connelly loves books, films, walking, historic buildings and animals. If she isn’t at her keyboard writing, she can usually be found in her garden, with either a trowel in her hand or a hen on her lap.
Her website is www.victoriaconnelly.com where readers can download a free novella.