I’m delighted today to be helping launch the blog tour for It Started with a Kiss by Lisa Hobman, and to share my publication day review. Published today (21st April) by Boldwood Books, it’s now available for kindle (free via Kindle Unlimited), 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 copy (provided via netgalley).
I was so thrilled to rediscover Lisa Hobman’s writing after far too long a break with Dreaming Under An Island Skye, her first book for Boldwood, published in February last year (you’ll find my review here) – a lovely story so well told, excellent characters, and the perfect setting. I thoroughly enjoyed her next book, Under an Italian Sky, too (you’ll find my review here – when I read it, it was called Under a Sicilian Sky) – and as I’m always a total pushover for stories of second chances and starting over (and beautiful Highland villages…), I absolutely loved Starting Over At Sunset Cottage too (you’ll find that review here). I’ve just realised that I totally missed her last book, Wishing Under a Starlit Skye, as it came out when I was on my January break this year – and as it takes us back to Glentorrin, I really must catch up with that one as soon as I possibly can. This one’s not a new one – it was previously self-published as The Star Attraction back in 2017 – but Boldwood have applied their special magic touch and I really loved the look of the storyline…
Can two strangers’ dreams lead to their destiny?
American Star Mendoza is living in her dream location, Edinburgh, a place she discovered in British novels while growing up.
Employed at a trendy city centre coffee shop, quirky, pink-haired Star spends her days fantasising about a handsome businessman she serves daily.
He’s totally out of her league but a girl can dream, right?
Fin Hunter is exhausted from striving for his father’s elusive love and approval, and of following a life path of his family’s making.
When things go drastically wrong Fin decides it’s time to stand on his own two feet and follow his own dream.
Star is bereft when her handsome stranger stops coming to her coffee shop, but a chance encounter in the most unlikely of places leaves her wondering if her fantasy could now become a reality?
Can opposites attract over their love of a city and music or is their story simply doomed to fail?
The chemistry between the two main characters in this book is simply stunning – it was a gorgeous love story, and I thoroughly enjoyed every single moment. Star is the embodiment of a free spirit – an American who chose to live in Edinburgh after a family visit, with her pink hair and multiple tattoos, working in the coffee shop owned by her gay flatmate Alec, wandering the city with her camera bag capturing images of the city she now loves. Fin is a sharply dressed lawyer working for the family firm, about to marry the woman approved by his controlling parents who have never shown him any love or appreciation. Star looks forward to his visits to the coffee shop, but when he tells her about his impending marriage it looks as if any chance of a relationship between them is over before it starts – until she runs into him in an unlikely setting one night, discovering that he has another side to him when he gets on the stage to sing.
These were two individuals I fell for immediately – the unlikely romance between them was entirely convincing, filled with warmth but also with a satisfying sizzle, despite their very different backgrounds and lifestyles, each encouraging the other to pursue their secret passions, their support for each other increasing the confidence they both lack and building the belief that anything might be possible. And, for a while, it looks as if there’s not going to be any tension and conflict – while they both hold back from telling each other how they feel, they really hardly need to. Until one night when everything comes crashing down – Star’s worries about not being good enough are realised, Fin faces a difficult choice between love and family loyalty, and their happy ending looks increasingly impossible.
I really loved the whole story – the author builds the emotional engagement with both Star and Fin quite perfectly, telling the story through both their voices, getting inside their thoughts and feelings, helping you understand their insecurities, really making you feel the joy of their developing romance and the freedom and release afforded by her photography and his moments on the stage. The supporting cast is really excellent too – Star’s flatmate Alec is kind and caring and the man everyone needs watching their back, Fin has his brother, gallery owner friend Tom and his new lawyer boss, and they’re sharply contrasted with his horrendously cold and manipulative parents. I also so enjoyed discovering Edinburgh (the descriptions are wonderful – this is somewhere the author clearly loves) – and I really loved the music (always a feature of her books), only breaking off from reading the wonderful story to search for some the perfectly chosen tracks on Spotify.
I read this book from cover to cover in one glorious sitting – entirely caught up in the very special relationship, following every twist and turn, desperately wanting everything to work out for them both – and have to say there was absolutely nothing about it that remotely disappointed me. It’s just a perfect – and beautifully written – love story. And you can’t ask for much more than that, can you? Highly recommended by me.
About the author
Lisa Hobman has written many brilliantly reviewed women’s fiction titles – the first of which was shortlisted by the RNA for their debut novel award. In 2012 Lisa relocated her family from Yorkshire to a village in Scotland and this beautiful backdrop now inspires her uplifting and romantic stories. Her first title for Boldwood, Dreaming Under an Island Skye, was published in February 2021.