It’s a real pleasure today to share my review of Where the Magic is by Giselle Green: independently published today, it’s now available for kindle and in paperback. My thanks to the author for my advance reading ecopy.
I’ve mentioned before (but when has that ever stopped me?!) that I really enjoyed the opportunity at an RNA party to have a long conversation with Giselle, as I’ve been reading and enjoying her books for rather a long time and it was so lovely to get to know her a little better. Back in June 2014, I shared reviews of both Little Miracles and Finding You (you can read the post again here) – both family dramas with real emotional depth that I thoroughly enjoyed. And in 2016, there was Dear Dad (you’ll find my review here, together with an interview) – I really adored this one, a wonderful and beautifully told story with big themes around what families mean and the nature of love. Then, in 2020, The Girl You Forgot was published by Boldwood Books, and I enthusiastically joined the blog tour with another review (you’ll find it here) – a moral dilemma at the core of the story filled with hope, questioning whether the heart remembers what the memory might have forgotten and whether love can carry you through a situation that seems quite impossible to bear.
Her writing just gets better and better – and when Giselle offered me the opportunity to be an early reader of her latest I found it impossible to resist. I thought it was a particularly special book – and I’m sure many other readers will agree. As I first read it at Christmas, I’ve done so again to write my review – and, with a few tweaks and that gorgeous cover and strapline that capture the story’s magic, I think I might have enjoyed it even more. Let’s take a closer look…
Sofia’s due to marry rich Rio businessman, Cristian… only, she’s just learnt that her daughter Ida is about to lose her eyesight. When she decides to take Ida on one last ‘memory trip’ to the Scottish Highlands, Sofia’s impoverished family become alarmed. So close to the big wedding, she’s forced to keep the real reason for her trip a secret…
Handsome Scotsman Cal’s a dream tour guide… but he’s got some secrets of his own. Unknown to the others, caring Cal usually works as a male escort… a job which keeps him trapped and compromised, and also keeps any real chance of love at bay. Meeting the girls, Cal is poignantly about to reconnect with the side of him that once longed for more.
Meanwhile, Sofia’s faced with the dilemma of how best to support Ida whilst keeping her fiancé and family on side.
Questioning how ‘free’ she really is… Sofia’s now forced to consider what price she’s prepared to pay, to follow her conscience and her heart?
This really was the loveliest story, with characters who entirely engaged my emotions from the very beginning. First, we meet Sofia, at home in Rio de Janeiro – she’s worked her way out of the favela and away from her humble beginnings, and is now on the verge of marrying Cristian, a businessman from a rich and powerful family. But she’s having doubts – the marriage will certainly change her life and the fortunes of her family, but will also curtail her independence and the freedoms she enjoys. And there’s a particular sadness in her life – her daughter Ida is losing her eyesight – although her new family seem to see that as a minor issue that can’t interfere with preparations for the society wedding. And in Rochester in the UK we meet highlander Cal, with his own problems as he struggles to return to civilian life after a military career – estranged from his family, he’s working as a male escort, providing companionship to lonely women, but it’s also placed him at the beck and call of his female boss who’d like their relationship to be something rather different.
At first, you might wonder how their stories will converge – but when Cal comes across a former senior officer having a difficult time, he steps in to cover his job as a tour guide, first taking a coach load of pensioners to a theme park, but then accompanying Sofia and daughter Ida as they take a memory-making tour of the Highlands of Scotland, visiting all the sites featured in Ida’s favourite film of Braveheart. But making memories isn’t the only purpose of their visit – Ida has an appointment at a London clinic, whose experimental work might offer the faint possibility of saving her eyesight. There are layers of secrets – Sofia’s future husband doesn’t need to know that their guide isn’t the mature military man he’d particularly chosen, the plans to visit the clinic aren’t shared with his family, and Cal’s usual life as an escort certainly isn’t on the table for discussion.
Their road trip is quite wonderful – all the locations really vividly described, even when they look rather different without the Hollywood gloss and in the dreich weather. But what really keeps the pages turning is the relationship that develops between Sofia and Cal, both struggling with the whole idea of home and belonging, and growing closer as they work their way towards the difficult decisions that they both need to make. The chemistry between them is palpable, and it becomes a strong and convincing romance – the author has a quite wonderful emotional touch, and I was entirely invested in both their journeys and took them both to my heart. Young Ida was beautifully drawn too – facing her uncertain future, she still manages to be a mischievous and excitable teen, and I really enjoyed both her growing friendship with Cal and her closeness to her mother.
There was nothing about this book I could have possibly failed to enjoy – its characters and their challenges engaged me at an emotional level, the romance most definitely gave me all the “feels”, and the whole story has just the right balance of heavy issues and lightness of touch that made the reading an absolute pleasure. Something I particularly loved was that the main characters were very real people – I felt for them, smiled with them, hurt when they hurt, and really wanted everything to work out for them all. A really lovely read, and the author’s writing has never been better – highly recommended by me.
About the author
Giselle Green is an award-winning, internationally published author writing emotionally-gripping stories about family and relationships. She has achieved the coveted #1 spot in the Amazon UK kindle chart, and top 100 chart in the Amazon kindle US. Giselle’s debut novel Pandora’s Box won the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writer’s Award and her 6th novel, Dear Dad was shortlisted for the RNA Romantic Novel of the Year.
Apart from writing, Giselle’s other life-long passion is astrology. When not writing, she enjoys drawing up astrological birth charts for people – an interest reflected in her non-fiction title, The Writer’s Guide to the Zodiac. Giselle also spends many happy hours tending her plants (she’s still working on the habit of growing far too many seeds and then not knowing where to put them).
Born in Chiswick, UK, Giselle spent many of her formative years growing up in Gibraltar among extensive family. Giselle now lives in Kent and is married with six grown-up children.