As part of my ChocLit feature week, I am delighted to be reviewing Sheryl Browne’s new novel, Learning to Love, which is published today. Sheryl’s book The Rest of My Life was among the first I reviewed on my blog when I started last year and I really enjoyed it, finding Adam a true ChocLit hero after being dubious about him at the start! You can read my review of that book here: The Rest of My Life You can also read an interview with Sheryl here: Author Spotlight If anything, I enjoyed Learning to Love even more. Make sure you check out my other post today which is a guest post from Sheryl. And at the bottom of the page, there’s a chance for you to win a copy of the book.
I warmed to the main character, Andrea, as soon as we meet her juggling feuding teenagers, a toddler, a mother in the early stages of Alzheimers and a partner who seems to have something on his mind. Her house is absolute chaos as she tries to keep all the balls in the air which include her working full time as a teacher in the local school. In an attempt to gain a bit more balance in her life, she is considering leaving her job and opening a shop instead. Her partner, Jonathan, is less than supportive wondering, quite reasonably it seems, how this will free up time. GP David Adams has just moved in across the road with his son Jake, trying hard to build a relationship with his sullen withdrawn son and Andrea gets off on the wrong foot with him. However, when her house burns down one evening, it is David who helps to rescue everyone and offers them accommodation till they get sorted out. Jonathan is nowhere to be found and when he does turn up, something is clearly not right in their relationship.
At the heart of every ChocLit story there has to be romance and an irresistible hero. Although Dr Adams doesn’t seem to be the most likeable of people to begin with, as we start to hear what has happened in his life and why he is trying to rebuild his relationship with his son, you start to see what a kind and caring man he really is – as well as rather gorgeous of course! I could quite understand why Jake was furious with his father after what they had been through but admired David’s persistence in trying to break through and help his son to begin to trust him again. It seems unlikely that romance could be on the cards between him and Andrea, especially given that she was in a relationship and that she had all those family commitments. However, sometimes love can grow in the most likely situations and as I began to suspect what Jonathan was hiding, I was seriously hoping Andrea would realise what a lovely man David was. However, David has some unexpected complications which could mean his life goes a direction he does not foresee.
Andrea is a terrific character. I think that many women will identify with her chaotic life as I mentioned above. It is hard enough work dealing with teenagers without having a younger child to cope with as well and a full-on full time job on top of that. Her mother Dee is another great character. Although she is often muddled, she has many periods of lucidity and some of her observations are very sharp-witted, even though her family don’t realise that at the time. I thought this relationship between mother and daughter was particularly sensitively portrayed. Andrea seemed a really lovely person, trying hard to do her best for everyone and she really deserved to find some happiness.
Sheryl Browne writes so convincingly about relationships both romantic and within the family. She creates strong believable characters and puts them in situations that her readers can relate to and therefore come to really care about what happens to those characters. I was really absorbed with Andrea’s story and all her problems and dilemmas and really, really hoping she got the happy ending that she so deserved. There is a perfect balance between serious issues, romance and humour throughout the book making it a heart-warming, compelling read.
There are lots of characters ‘Learning to Love’ in this book in many different ways. It is engaging, warm and witty and I thoroughly enjoyed and recommend it.
Thanks to the publishers ChocLit for my copy of the book for review. Learning to Love is published as an ebook today and you can order it here: Learning to Love. I also have a giveaway (open internationally) where you can win a copy of the ebook so make sure you click the link below to find out how to enter. All giveaways this week are open until midnight (UK time) on Sunday 19th June.
From the back of the book
Sometimes help comes from the most unlikely places …
Living in a small village like Hibberton, it’s expected that your neighbours help you in a time of need. But when Andrea Kelly’s house burns down, taking all her earthly possessions with it, it’s the distant and aloof Doctor David Adams – the person she would least expect – who opens his door not just to her, but to her three kids and slightly dotty elderly mother as well.
Andrea needs all the help she can get, dealing with aftermath of the fire and in the suspicious absence of her husband, Jonathan. But, as she gets to know David and his troubled son, Jake, she begins to realise that maybe they need her help as much as she needs theirs …
Previously published by the author. Revised and updated by Choc Lit May 2016.