It’s a real pleasure today to be joining the blog tour for Love on Location by Lynne Shelby, and sharing my review: published by Headline Accent on 19th August, 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).
Lynne’s lovely books really have become part of my summer. Having really enjoyed The One That I Want (you’ll find my review here), There She Goes was every bit as good – you’ll find my review of that one here, and I really loved my return visit to theatreland. And last year there was The Summer of Taking Chances – a gorgeous summery romance, a lovely location, and another book I equally enjoyed (you can read my review again here). So this time we’re off to the Greek Islands, with the promise of “sunshine, movie magic and summer love” – how could I possibly resist?
Can movie magic lead to a real-life romance?
When Laurel Martin is hired to rewrite the script for a new timeslip blockbuster, she expects the historical advisor hired by the studio to be an elderly academic who won’t interfere too much with her writing. But when she meets Professor Jason Harding, a young and unexpectedly handsome archaeologist who has some ideas of his own about the script, she realises the job isn’t going to be as simple as she first thought.
As their work takes them from arguing over historical details in a cramped London office to discovering the hidden beauties of a Greek island, Laurel and Jason’s relationship starts to echo the romance of their script.
But with Laurel’s actor ex-boyfriend making trouble at home, and constant issues with the volatile director, will Laurel and Jason ever be able to write the happy ending for their own story?
The author has always had a rather special touch when writing about theatreland, balancing the glitz and glamour with a realistic view of the hard work and many disappointments that accompany it. This time, we’re in the world of big budget movie-making – and I’m delighted to report that she brings to it the same degree of fascination and involvement.
Laurel is a screenwriter, brought in at short notice to polish up the script for Swords and Sandals, a timeslip romance due to start shooting in the Greek islands in five weeks’ time. It’s her big break, and she’s less than pleased to find that she’s been paired up with a historical advisor, an archaeologist brought in to make sure the detail’s accurate and that there are no anachronisms. She’s surprised to find that he’s not the doddery old professor she expected, Jason is much younger and distinctly hot – but she’s less pleased to find that he’s seen as her co-writer, and finds him undermining her at script meetings and arguing with her ideas. But their relationship slowly becomes a little more comfortable, and they find themselves summoned to the Greek island of Kyros where the shoot is going far from smoothly and they might need to make some last minute changes to the script. The travel arrangements let them down, and they find themselves in Athens for a few days, unexpectedly (and a little uncomfortably) sharing a room – but their friendship grows as Jason shows her the sights, and things heat up considerably when they get to Kyros.
Back at home, Laurel has an on-off relationship with Conor – he’s a stage actor, very much the centre of his own universe – and he’s “temporarily” moved into her flat to the consternation of her friend and flatmate Amber. But Amber has a part in Swords and Sandals – and the possibility of a relationship with Harry, the lead actor, if only she can get over her unrequited feelings for her male friend. And Amber and Laurel are both headed for Kyros, leaving Conor in the flat – and leaving Laurel with the problem of how to extricate herself from the less than satisfactory relationship.
The characters in this book are really well drawn – I really liked Laurel from the very beginning, and Jason slowly won me over as he became more fully rounded with glimpses of his past and his relationship with Laurel developed. The romance elements are strong and believable, and with some lovely emotional touches, and just the right degree of misunderstanding and conflict – and equally well handled in the secondary storyline of Amber and Harry. The locations, of course, are just perfect, and beautifully brought to life – first Athens, and then Kyros, and who doesn’t love a luxury villa on a Greek island with an arbour for writing in, a roof terrace to sleep under the stars and an illuminated pool. But I also loved all the richness of the detail about the process of movie making – the long and difficult days, the unreasonable and irascible director, the small details about the whole filming process.
One aspect of the storytelling that I really enjoyed was the way that Laurel wrote scripts in her head for real life events – she sees everything in film-related terms, from the perfect moment for the next kiss to the appropriate moment to cut away from the action or to declare “it’s a wrap”. At first, I did wonder if it might become a little annoying – but it really didn’t, and worked really well. The only thing about the whole book that did perplex me a little was what on earth Laurel saw in Conor – but I guess we all have moments when our judgement can be a little questionable.
I very much enjoyed this one – pure escapism, an excellent and well-told story, wonderful locations, well drawn characters, a strong and believable romance, and the sheer fascination of film-making on location. Perhaps my favourite book from the author so far, and recommended to all.
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. She lives in London with her husband, and has three adult children who live nearby.