It’s such a pleasure today to join the blog tour and share my review of Strictly Come Dating by Kathryn Freeman: published by One More Chapter on 15th August, the third in her Romcom Collection, this lovely book is now available for kindle via Amazon in the UK and US. The audiobook will be available on 24th September, and the paperback on 26th November – both are available for preorder. Thank you to Rachel of Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation and support, and to the publishers for my advance reading ecopy (provided via netgalley).
I know I shouldn’t really have favourites (and it’s a list that’s added to regularly!), but I just love Kate’s books – she can always be relied on for a book that gives me a proper cuddle. Within this series, I’ve read and reviewed Up Close and Personal – a great story, and I don’t think her writing’s ever been better – and you’ll find that review here. But I’ve featured her books so often here on Being Anne that I won’t list all her others – just pop her name into the search bar, and you’ll find posts (reviews, cover reveals, spotlights and guest posts) for most of her excellent books. So did this one delight me as much as ever? Let’s find out…
Saturday nights are strictly for dancing…
As the glitter ball shimmers and sequins flash, forty-year-old Maggie remembers the pull of the dancefloor. But now, as a newly divorced mum of two, Maggie’s certain her dancing days are over. Or are they…?
Encouraged by her friends, Maggie dusts off her silver stilettoes and enrols for dancing classes, all she needs now is the perfect partner.
Enter Seb. Young, carefree and hot as hell, Seb is definitely a perfect 10! Even though everything about him is outrageously inappropriate! But as Seb sweeps her across the dancefloor every week, Maggie begins to see a new side to him; kind, caring, funny, strong.
And Maggie realises that he’s the only one she’d like to foxtrot with…perhaps even forever.
Oh my goodness, I loved this one! It’s not that often you feel such chemistry between the two main characters – it’s one of those romances that makes you ache for them, just desperate for everything to work out in the way you want it to.
Maggie’s a doctor, a recently divorced mother to two young daughters, lacking in confidence, living a life of routine, governed by lists, avoiding the unexpected: Seb is the younger brother of her two best friends, seems to likes living life in the fast lane, has an edge of excitement about him, just back from his latest adventure living on a pontoon on the Great Barrier Reef, and with the ability to make Maggie feel uncomfortably warm under the collar.
They really don’t seem right for each other at all – Maggie’s quite content that the highlight of her week is watching Strictly Come Dancing with friends on a Saturday night (in fact it’s become a bit of a military operation) – and their lives are so very different. And there’s also the issue that he’s ten years her junior – why on earth would he even be interested in her?
At the beginning, I’ll will admit I did find things a little chaotic – there’s quite a large cast of characters, first encountered on one of their Saturday night get togethers, and I read the first few chapters a couple of times just to be clear who they all were, how they all related to each other, and who was going to be important to the story. But things soon settle down, and the focus becomes that strong spark of attraction between Maggie and Seb: the author fleshes out both their characters, against a well drawn background of supportive friendships and family dynamics, and slowly makes them people you grow to really care about, so very much more than the ice maiden and the chancer that they at first seem to be. Seb shows a caring side and a depth of character you’d never be expecting, even if his occasional impulsiveness sets things back at times – and when Maggie begins to smile again, you can’t help smiling with her.
There’s an immense warmth to this book – I loved Maggie’s young daughters, both really well developed little characters, and it was a particular pleasure to watch their relationship with Seb develop. I do guess some might say there’s an absence of tension and conflict to the story – other than the appearance of Maggie’s rather vile ex-husband – but I was more than happy with the “will they/won’t they” of the developing romance.
As well as watching it on the tv on those regular Saturday nights, Maggie has always loved to dance – and the Wednesday night classes she decides to attend at the village hall are a lovely device for moving the story forward while introducing some excellent new characters. And then there’s the approaching dance competition, with the possibility of Maggie winning a glitter ball of her own for the rumba – I really loved the way the story built up to that point, and provided a vehicle for the relationship to develop further.
As always, the author has the most wonderful touch with dialogue – the exchanges between Maggie and Seb really crackle and fizz, but I equally enjoyed their quieter moments. The humour’s perfectly judged throughout too. But the romance really is something rather special – quite beautifully developed, with depth and real authenticity, and a few more emotional moments that tugged quite wonderfully at the heartstrings and sometimes brought a little tear to the eye.
I’d recommend this book to anyone who enjoys well-written contemporary romance – this was another real winner from Kathryn Freeman, and a definite 10 from me!
About the author
A former pharmacist, I’m now a medical writer who also writes romance. Some days a racing heart is a medical condition, others it’s the reaction to a hunky hero.
I’ve two sons and a husband who asks every Valentine’s Day whether he has to buy a card (yes, he does), any romance is all in my head. Then again, his unstinting support of my career change proves love isn’t always about hearts and flowers – and heroes come in many disguises.