It’s such a pleasure today to be joining the blog tour for The Promise of Summer by Bella Osborne, and sharing my review. Published by Avon Books on 22nd July, it’s now available for kindle, for Kobo, in paperback, and as an audiobook. 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).
It’s quite a few years since I first met Bella at Romance in the Court – I really have neglected her books quite shamefully. You’ll only find one review on the blog – A Walk in Wildflower Park was first published in four parts, and my review was of the first part, Build Me Up Buttercup (you’ll find my review here). I have to admit that I’m not the world’s biggest fan of books released in parts – I often find the whole experience a teeny bit frustrating, and I’d far prefer to sit down and read a whole book. There was quite a focus on the world of work in that one too – although there was a lot I really liked about the writing, it just wasn’t quite the right book for me. I know this book started life as a four-parter too, but now they’ve been pulled together as a complete book I was looking forward to giving her writing another try.
Ruby’s life is about to change for ever…
After years of dating losers, cheats and one guy who did something unrepeatable to her kettle, Ruby has all but given up on romance. But then a stranger sits next to her on a train to London and explains his plan to propose to the woman of his dreams. Maybe true love does exist after all?
When the man accidentally leaves the engagement ring behind, Ruby is determined to save the day. But she hasn’t counted on fellow passenger Curtis stepping in and insisting he should be the one to track the stranger down.
As summer closes in, the unlikely pair make a promise to reunite the ring with its owner. But can they find their own happy ever after along the way?
I knew I was going to love this book from its opening pages – as Ruby bemoans her troubled love life while working alongside Kim in her Sheffield flower shop, I was already laughing out loud and immediately took to both characters, looking forward to finding out their stories.
The book takes off at breakneck pace with Ruby’s trip to London. First there’s a brush with a grumpy businessman, then an encounter with a chatty young man on his way to the London Eye to propose to his girlfriend – desperately romantic Ruby is enchanted by his story, but disaster strikes when he leaves the train holding her mobile phone and leaving her with the flashy engagement ring. But all is not lost – Curtis (he’s the grumpy businessman) and Ruby join forces, remain together as they spend their day in the capital, Curtis attending a high-powered meeting with Ruby in tow as his “assistant”, Curtis tagging along for Ruby’s rather more unusual appointment, but their plan to catch up with the romantic stranger at the Eye is doomed to failure.
But it’s the start of an uneasy friendship between the pair, as Ruby agrees to be Curtis’ part-time assistant – she’s considerably less scatty than she at first appears – and so begins a quite wonderful relationship between two very different people. Ruby constantly wears her heart on her sleeve – she’s kind, funny, full of warmth, unashamedly romantic, and has a tendency to speak first and engage her brain a little later. Curtis is the total opposite – he’s logical, analytical, a little (actually, a lot) stiff and businesslike, struggles with real life and any hint of emotion – but his alliance with Ruby is about to change him beyond recognition. The quest for the owner of the ring continues, but the story’s main focus becomes the relationship between them – and I adored every single moment.
But there’s a second thread to the story, as we follow Kim – she’s a character who won my heart from first encounter too, a mother figure to Ruby, warm and caring, but carrying her own secrets and sadness. Romance comes into her life from an unexpected quarter – a really lovely second chance one, and I so hoped she’d get her happy ending, but there are certainly some seemingly insurmountable obstacles along the way. And in an attempt to stave off loneliness, she decides to take on something of a challenge – an over exuberant and slightly insane dog called Boomerang – and I really enjoyed every moment of their journey together.
I enjoyed this book so much – I read it from cover to cover in one lovely sitting, frequently laughing out loud but sometimes wiping away a tear or two, entirely wrapped up in the story. The author has a particularly special touch with dialogue, and Ruby’s exchanges with Curtis are simply wonderful – I loved watching the way her quirkiness slowly won him over, warming his heart and softening his edges, becoming part of his life as their friendship slowly turns into the loveliest slow-burn romance. Emotionally, the author has the perfect touch – there’s a lot more depth to the story than you might expect amid all the sparkling humour, those touches of life’s ups and downs and moments of sadness that keep things very real. The next laugh is never far away, but the humour is all quite perfectly judged – and sometimes the funniest moments are the little touches that take you by surprise, like the hitherto undiscovered joy of walking through double doors with an enthusiastic accompanying “ta-da” (must try it soon!). The whole book is immaculately plotted and gloriously convoluted, with the quest to return the ring running throughout along with a multitude of other intriguing small story lines – but I thought the absolute joy of this book was in its characters, every one of them perfectly rounded and developed, and I entirely took every one of them to my heart.
This really was the perfect summer read – beautifully written, both touching and hilarious, warm and uplifting, unashamedly romantic, filled with twists and turns that keep you entirely engaged in the story – and I loved every single moment.
About the author
Bella has been jotting down stories as far back as she can remember but decided that 2013 would be the year that she finished a full length novel. Since then she’s written seven best selling romantic comedies and she’s been shortlisted three times for the RNA Contemporary Romantic Novel of the Year Award.
Bella’s stories are about friendship, love and coping with what life throws at you. She lives in The Midlands, UK with her husband, daughter and a cat who thinks she’s a dog. When not writing Bella is usually eating custard creams and planning holidays.
For more about Bella, visit her website or follow her on social media: