I’m really delighted today to be sharing my review of Shoot the Moon by Bella Cassidy: independently published in August 2021, this lovely book is now available for kindle via Amazon in the UK and US (free via Kindle Unlimited) and also in paperback. My thanks to the author for sending my reading e-copy – even though she knew it was going to take me a while to get round to reading it, however much I wanted to!
Looking at my emails, I can see that my first contact with the author was last October – and at the time, although the story appealed to me immediately, its cover was one that really didn’t make it stand out from the masses and perhaps led its potential readers to expect a rather different book. It was a real pleasure to talk to her journalist alter ego as she wrestled with her decision to change the cover to one that fitted its content rather better (and isn’t it lovely?) – you might like to read the excellent article she wrote about it for Writing Magazine, and you’ll find it here on her website. I also immensely appreciated that she was happy to wait for a review, as I was a bit under the cosh when she first got in touch – but this was a book that was most definitely worth the wait…
Tassie Morris is everyone’s favourite wedding photographer, famous for her photos of offbeat ceremonies and alternative brides. Yet commitment is proving impossible for Tassie herself, who cannot forget her first love.
When she’s sent to photograph a ceremony on Schiehallion – the Fairy Hill of the Scottish Caledonians – she meets Dan, who might be the one to make her forget her past. That is, until a family crisis begins a chain of events that threaten to destroy not only Tassie’s love life, but her entire career.
Set in a colourful world of extraordinary weddings, Shoot the Moon explores the complexities of different kinds of love: romantic love, mother love, friendship. And, ultimately, the importance of loving yourself.
Working for Kiss the Bride magazine, Tassie has a very successful career as a wedding photographer, specialising in those occasions that are just a bit different from the norm. Her personal life is rather less sorted, although she loves her quirky home with its glorious garden, and is supported by a wonderful group of friends – she has a fractured relationship with her mother that makes every contact difficult, and she seems entirely unable to form a long-term relationship with a partner. Her inability to find love seems largely down to Alex – he was her first love, now living his own life, but only needs to crook his finger for her to come running. We see her at work, first a wonderful biker wedding in Exeter between a couple working as doctors in world danger zones, and then another at a remote bothy on Schiehallion in the heart of Scotland – and it’s there that she meets Dan, and she might just have found a match with the kind of chemistry to make her life complete. Of course, things don’t go smoothly – there’s a family crisis, and then there’s Alex, and then a major error of judgement that sees her having to make some difficult decisions about her future.
It’s so lovely to come across a book where the author has got everything absolutely right – this certainly is a romance (and it’s one that makes you really ache inside, despairing at any possibility of a happy ending), and both Tassie and Dan are tremendously engaging, but it’s also about love in its many different guises. The friends who surround Tassie are wonderfully drawn – and we become involved in their lives and relationships while never losing a focus on the issues that she’s grappling with. The complexity of family relationships is superbly handled too – particularly the difficult relationship with her mother and whether there’s any possibility of change, both painful and very real. And there’s a lot of love in many of the other interactions too – I found Tassie’s return visit to Exeter and the good advice she was given to help her with her personal journey particularly emotional. In fact, I think I’d like to use the word “real” again – every single character in this book is fully rounded, an individual you feel you know, however peripheral their appearance and however minor their part in the story.
I think I’ve already used the word “quirky” too, haven’t I (even if it was only about Tassie’s “urban cave”…) – and if you’re getting the impression that there’s not too much to smile about in this book you couldn’t be more wrong. There are moments of absolute joy in this book, beautifully captured – and there are a lot of laughs too, the humour quite perfectly judged, ranging from the character-led to some set pieces that verge on slapstick. And there’s also some real magic – that’s not something I always enjoy in a book, but here it works really well with the quite perfect emotional touch that the author shows throughout. There’s a really well-developed sense of place too, as the action moves from place to place – Tassie’s London life, the wedding in Exeter, the Scottish dimension with Schiehallion and Skye (oh, I did love it there!), her family home in Shropshire, an excursion to Somerset – with every location beautifully described.
There’s a real freshness and vibrancy about the author’s writing – the whole book had a very different “feel” from other books I’ve read recently, although it shared many of their themes, and that was something I very much enjoyed. There are books you read and enjoy, then there are others that you inhale, living between their pages – and this was certainly one of the latter. One of my books of the year – and I’m very much looking forward to seeing what the author does next.
When I checked Amazon UK earlier, this book already has over 70 reviews, the majority of them (over 80%) with a well-earned five stars. And to help bring it to the attention of more readers who will enjoy it, there’s a blog tour starting on 18th March, organised by Rachel’s Random Resources – you’ll find the details below, and you might like to visit some of the excellent blogs involved, see what they thought of it too. I also understand the kindle version will be just 99p for the duration of the tour… that’s just too good to miss!
About the author
Bella Cassidy grew up in the West Country – reading contemporary romances, romances, historical novels, literary fiction… just about anything she could lay her hands on. After a few years in London, working as a waitress and in PR and advertising, she went to Sussex to read English – despite admitting in her pre-interview that this rather sociable period in her life had seen her read only one book in six months: a Jilly Cooper.
She’s had an eclectic range of jobs: including in the world of finance; social housing fundraising; a stint at the Body Shop – working as Anita Roddick’s assistant; as a secondary school teacher, then teaching babies to swim: all over the world.
She’s done a lot of research for writing a wedding romance, having had two herself. For her first she was eight months pregnant – a whale in bright orange – and was married in a barn with wood fires burning. The second saw her in elegant Edwardian silk, crystals and lace, teamed with yellow wellies and a cardigan. Both were great fun; but it was lovely having her daughter alongside, rather than inside her at the second one.