The lovely Zoé over at Zooloo’s Book Diary let me know that she was planning an #AuthorTakeOver this week for the wonderful Kim Nash – do pop over and see some of the excellent posts (and have a look round while you’re there – her blog is one of my favourites). I so loved both Kim’s books that I was delighted to provide Zoé with a quote to include in one of her posts – but I really wanted to do a little more, so I’m thrilled today to share again my reviews for both Amazing Grace (e-book just 99p at the moment!) AND Escape to Giddywell Grange (and my goodness, that’s just 99p too!).
I’ve mentioned before that it’s more usual for authors to become my friends after I’ve reviewed their books, but that’s not really the case with Kim. We’ve met many times over the years (she always gives the very best hugs!), she has a wonderful blog, AND she works for one of my favourite publishers. When her first book was published in April 2019, I was ready just to say a few nice things about it, and move on – but I was so delighted to find that the book was quite wonderful. In fact, it was one of the very best romance books I read last year, and it was a sheer delight to include it in my Books of the Year list for 2019.
She’s taking her life back, one step at a time…
Grace thought she had it all. Living in the beautiful village of Little Ollington, along with head teacher husband Mark and gorgeous son, Archie, she devoted herself to being the perfect mum and the perfect wife, her little family giving her everything she ever wanted. Until that fateful day when she walked in on Mark kissing his secretary – and her perfect life fell apart.
Now she’s a single mum to Archie, trying to find her way in life and keep things together for his sake. Saturday nights consist of a Chinese takeaway eaten in front of the TV clad in greying pyjamas, and she can’t remember the last time she had a kiss from anyone aside from her dog, Becks…
Grace’s life needs a shake up – fast. So when gorgeous gardener Vinnie turns up on her doorstep, his twinkling eyes suggesting that he might be interested in more than just her conifers, she might just have found the answer to her prayers. But as Grace falls deeper for Vinnie, ten-year-old Archie fears that his mum finding love means she’ll never reconcile with the dad he loves.
So when ex-husband Mark begs her for another chance, telling her he’s changed from the man that broke her heart, Grace finds herself with an impossible dilemma. Should she take back Mark and reunite the family that Archie loves? Or risk it all for a new chance of happiness?
A funny, feel good romance about finding your own path and changing your life for the better – readers of Cathy Bramley, Jill Mansell and Josie Silver will love this uplifting read
And here’s my review, just one more time…
It’s rare to be totally hooked from the opening pages, but as Grace faces another Archie-free day, greets Becks the dog, and wonders quite what she’s going to do with her life, I knew I was going to love this book. There’s a real talent in creating characters who are so real that you feel you could bump into them when you leave the house or in the nearest cafe: although our experiences are totally different, there was just so much about Grace and her day-to-day concerns that was totally relatable that I took her to my heart in an instant.
As Grace begins to find her own way, the “fat club” was just wonderful (and something I have experienced – the ritual humiliation, the nursery stickers and the infuriating catch-phrases!), and her on-line dating experiences brought back many uncomfortable memories (thanks, Monica…). But then something happens that every singleton – whose greatest excitement is a new pair of Tesco pyjamas – dreams of, when the man of her dreams knocks on her door, and he rather likes the look of her too.
Every character in this book is wonderfully drawn. I loved the way Archie was sometimes a small and vulnerable child but at other times became Grace’s champion and defender – his interrogation skills were wonderful to behold, and so well observed. Her husband Mark is selfish, manipulative and totally obnoxious – but never becomes a caricature, just an uncomfortable and unwelcome presence and a threat to the hoped for happy ending. I liked Vinnie very much – but that element of suspicion that Grace has, that maybe there’s something he’s not telling her (fuelled by her previous experience of Mark’s deception), is really well done. The minor characters are excellent too – Monica as the friend everyone needs, Vinnie’s sister Ruth, the friendly neighbours. At one point in the story they all come together at a really lovely party – I felt like I was there, and really wished I had been.
While it’s undoubtedly a romantic comedy, with both gentle humour and some more madcap moments that have you in stitches, I loved the emotional elements every bit as much. There’s a strong theme of a mother’s love – a beautifully drawn relationship between Grace and her young son Archie, filled with love, and the great sadness that Grace no longer has her mother to turn to in times of trouble. There’s no heaviness here, but the love is palpable – and I often found myself quite tearful as my heartstrings were gently pulled by the clever writing. The author’s emotional touch is quite perfect – laughter changes to sadness, and then back to that quite lovely lightness again, with total ease and absence of effort.
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this book is that it’s a debut: the writing is really accomplished, and there wasn’t a single moment on Grace’s journey to happiness when I thought anything could have been done better. There was a point in this book when I felt I was really living it rather than simply reading it – as Grace teeters on the edge of a life-changing decision, I really wanted to talk to her in the hope I could make her see that it was wrong for her in every way. And as I approached the book’s end, I didn’t want it to be over – and that’s a real sign that the author’s drawn you into the world of her characters.
Moving, uplifting, totally convincing characters – desperately sad at times, but also very, very funny. I really loved this book, and look forward very much to seeing what Kim Nash does next.
And when I did see what she did next… blow me, she did it again! That second book can be such a challenge for so many authors (and Kim’s written a post about it for Zoé – you’ll find it here) but this lady has a rare talent – I might just have loved this book even more. And why didn’t this one feature in my Books of the Year list too? Only because I decided it would be unfair to include two books from the same author… sorry Kim!
Maddy Young thought she had it all.
Swanky city apartment? – yep. Fancy car? sorted. High-flying career? – tick.
Even if she’s lost most of her friends because of spending all her time at work, and can’t remember when she last had fun, it’s worth it.
Until she’s suddenly made redundant. Now she’s 37, jobless, and after the breakup with the former love of her life, unhappily single.
Enter Maddy’s childhood friend, Beth, the owner of Growlers, the doggy daycare centre at Giddywell Grange, on a mission to make Maddy see there’s more to life than work.
Soon, Maddy is swapping spreadsheets for volunteer duty at the library, daily Starbucks for cups of tea with elderly neighbours, and her Prada handbag for doggy poo bags… And with Beth’s gorgeous brother, Alex, back from the States, Maddy starts to think that Giddywell Grange might just be her happy place.
But when her old life – and her old boyfriend – comes calling, will Maddy go back to the job she loved so much? Or will she discover that the key to happiness lies in making others happy?
An uplifting romantic comedy that will warm your heart – perfect for fans of Cathy Bramley, Milly Johnson and Katie Fforde.
And the review again? My absolute pleasure…
A stylish flat, all the handbags and shoes she could ever want, a flash car – and with the promotion she’s worked so hard for within touching distance, Maddy’s life is pretty near all she’s ever wanted. But when her life unexpectedly falls apart, she realises what might just be missing – as well as having broken up with her partner, she’s pushed away her family and friends and her apparently perfect life is rather lonely and empty. With the encouragement of friend Beth, she begins to discover what might make her happy – a closer relationship with her mother, letting in other people and making their lives a little richer, and finding herself again. There are lots of slips along the way – uncomfortable moments to live through, times when she has her doubts that this new life is really for her – and I thoroughly enjoyed following her on her difficult journey.
Maddy is an engaging and relatable heroine, perhaps less likeable at the start because she’s rather lost her way – but I grew to love her, and particularly enjoyed her clear voice, her awkwardness in embracing the new direction her life takes, and the gentle humour that runs through the whole book. But every character is beautifully drawn – I particularly liked her relationship with her mother (the author has a particularly perfect touch with mothers…) and the surprises along the way, her recovered friendship with Beth, and all the other contacts she makes through her involvement with Growlers and her work with the library. And yes, even the dogs have well-drawn characters – I loved Baxter (and his owner when she first meets him), and so will everyone else. There’s a gentle simmering romance too – not totally central to the story, and in danger of being derailed when the past rears its head, but I really liked the way it was handled.
The whole book is gentle and filled with exceptional warmth and the loveliest fuzzy moments, and the author’s touch with the more difficult emotional content is absolutely assured too. The writing has an effortlessness about it, easy and comfortable to read, keeping you turning the pages: and the story is immensely engaging as Maddy slowly realises what’s really important – the memories you make and the people you meet – with friendship, support and self-love coming into clear focus. This really was a thoroughly lovely read – I enjoyed it very much, and recommend it to all.
But no resting on your laurels now, Kim – I’m very much looking forward to reading your next…!
About the author
Kim Nash lives in Staffordshire with son Ollie and English Setter Roni, is PR & Social Media Manager for Bookouture and is a book blogger at www.kimthebookworm.co.uk.
Kim won the Romantic Novelists Association’s Media Star of the Year in 2016, which she still can’t quite believe. She is now quite delighted to be a member of the RNA.
When she’s not working or writing, Kim can be found walking her dog, reading, standing on the sidelines of a football pitch cheering on Ollie and binge watching box sets on the TV. She’s also quite partial to a spa day and a gin and tonic (not at the same time!) Kim also runs a book club in Cannock, Staffs.
Amazing Grace was her debut novel with Hera Books and came out in April 2019: her second novel Escape to Giddywell Grange was published in September 2019.
Connect with Kim on Social Media here: