It’s a real pleasure to be helping launch the blog tour today for The Summer of Taking Chances by Lynne Shelby: published by Headline Accent on 4th June, it’s now available for kindle and in paperback via Amazon in the UK and US. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation and support, and to the publishers for my advance reading e-copy (provided via netgalley).
Having first really enjoyed The One That I Want (you’ll find my review here), There She Goes was every bit as lovely – you’ll find my review of that one here, and I really loved revisiting all that glitz and glamour as I returned to theatreland. The publishers are calling this new one “the perfect, feel-good summer romance” – the sun was shining, my comfy seat under a sun umbrella was waiting, so how could I possibly resist?
Would you take the second chance you’ve always dreamed of?
It’s been ten years since Emma Stevens last laid eyes on Jake Murray. When he left the small seaside village of South Quay to chase the limelight, Emma’s dreams left with him.
Now Emma is content living a quiet and uneventful life in South Quay. It’s far from the life she imagined, but at least her job at the local hotel has helped heal her broken heart.
But when Jake returns home for the summer to escape the spotlight, Emma’s feelings quickly come flooding back. There’s clearly a connection between them, but Jake has damaged her heart once already – will she ever be able to give him a second chance?
I do hope the author will forgive me if I say that I was a bit worried when I started reading this book. It was that backstage glitz (the smell of the greasepaint, the roar of…) that had made me love her earlier books so much, and I just wasn’t sure that an amateur Shakespeare production, the South Quay location or the focus on a group of young friends would have quite the same appeal. Even the return of Jake – successful actor, a bit up himself, not really my cup of tea – couldn’t get me excited.
But how very wrong can you be? It might not have been quite what I expected at first – but that was only “at first”, because it certainly turned out to have all the showbiz moments I could have possibly asked for. I really enjoyed this book, and should have trusted that the author would delight me every bit as much as she always has.
Emma entirely won my heart – her own acting dreams have been thwarted, she works as an events organiser for a local hotel, lives with her closest friend, enjoys being part of the local amateur dramatic group. She’s an all round lovely person, but her comfy life is rather disrupted by the return of perhaps rather less likeable Jake, the TV star escaping to South Quay for the summer. They have history, he broke her heart – and he might just have had something to do with her failure to follow the stage career she’d originally planned too. Maybe he’s changed, maybe he hasn’t – and the book follows their new relationship, initially a cautious friendship, with a bit of conflict and tension along the way, against a backdrop of the dramas of daily life in South Quay and the preparations for the amateur production of Romeo and Juliet.
It’s not all South Quay – we do get a wonderful trip to London, a glitzy party where we meet again some characters from the earlier books (I do like it when that happens!), and a few days of exploring the sights from a lesser-known perspective that I’ll be more than happy to use as a guidebook when I’m next in London for longer than one night. The story of their earlier relationship and what really happened is slowly revealed, in flashback, with a few real surprises along the way – it’s quite a story, and very well told. And I particularly liked the sparky exchanges between Emma and Jake – the Shakespeare quotes were a particularly nice touch, really well done.
I enjoyed the relationship story, but I also loved the backdrop of the amateur production. The characters are so excellent – they might be “secondary”, but every one of them is so well-drawn. And then there’s the introduction of real drama as the possibility of the show going on becomes increasingly unlikely.
The whole story builds so well to its climax – perhaps not entirely unpredictable, but who cares? – and the whole book really left me with a smile on my face. A lovely summery read, and something a little different – I liked it very much.
About the author
Lynne Shelby writes contemporary women’s fiction/romance. Her debut novel, French Kissing won the Accent Press and Woman magazine Writing Competition. She has done a variety of jobs from stable girl to child actor’s chaperone to legal administrator, but now writes full time. When not writing or reading, Lynne can usually be found at the theatre or exploring a foreign city – Paris, New York, Rome, Copenhagen, Seattle, Reykjavik – writer’s notebook, camera and sketchbook in hand. She lives in London with her husband, and has three adult children who live nearby.