The Little Dreams of Lara Cliffe by @MillyJohnson #QuickReads #bookreview @simonschusterUK @readingagency

Yes it was just last week that I reviewed Milly Johnson’s wonderful My One True North. Now you may be wondering how on earth she has managed to have another book out at around the same time? Well, it’s because this is part of the excellent Quick Reads series from The Reading Agency. There is more about Quick Reads at the bottom of the post but basically, they are short books by top authors available for a very reasonable £1. They are aimed at anyone who is looking for, as the name suggests, a quick read but also aimed at making reading for pleasure more accessible for everyone. I should mention here that, in an exceptionally generous move, best-selling author Jojo Moyes has funded the scheme for three years after it was at risk of collapse.

The Small Dreams of Lara Cliffe is about Lara and her three friends who are on a mini-break to Amsterdam for her hen-do. Lara has had her share of disappointing relationships but is about to settle down and marry ‘Steady Freddie’. However, on the boat to Rotterdam, she discovers that the guitarist in the on-board band is none other than her first love Danny, the man who jilted her and broke her heart. They used to sing in a band together and Danny had high hopes of stardom. Understandably, this rather throws her and she begins to think about all the times they had together.

I had been hoping to go to Amsterdam later this year but with all the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus, that’s on hold for now. So it was good to have a virtual whistle-stop tour of Amsterdam with Lara and her friends. Milly Johnson often writes about the importance of kindness and friendship and this group of ladies were clearly really good friends who had been, and would always be, there for each other through thick or thin. This being just a short read at around 100 pages, we really only get glimpses of their lives and I’d love to read more about any of them which to me is a sign of a very well written character. And although he only made a few appearances, Steady Freddie was such a central part of the story and I did love his, well, steadiness.

The Small Dreams of Lara Cliffe is an enjoyable story and ideal for anyone looking for a quick read. It gives a good flavour of Milly Johnson’s warm, engaging and witty style of writing and I definitely recommend you seek out her other books if you’re not already familiar with them. The Quick Reads series is a great way to try out new authors or genres you wouldn’t usually read. Why not have a look in your local bookshop or library and see if there are any others which appeal?

The Dreams of Lara Cliffe is available for just £1 from bookshops and is also available at libraries.

From the back of the book

Lara Cliffe and her three friends are off on a mini break for her hen party.  It’s three weeks before her wedding to ’Steady Freddie’, one of the kindest men on the planet.  But something is worrying Lara. Her friends say it’s wedding jitters, but she isn’t so sure.  Fifteen years ago the love of her life, Danny Belfont, walked out on her three weeks before their wedding and she has never been able to fully get him out of her heart.
Then, on the overnight ferry, Lara finds out that Danny is playing in the onboard band and he spots her in the crowd. Will she meet him the next night to talk?
As the wonderful city of Amsterdam works its magic on Lara, she tries to sort out her thoughts.  And if fate has brought Lara and Danny back together … is it really for love or for something quite different? 

About the author

Milly Johnson

Milly Johnson was born, raised and still lives in Barnsley, South Yorkshire. She is the author of 17 published novels, 4 short story ebooks, a book of poetry and a Quick Reads Novella (‘The Little Dreams of Lara Cliffe’) and was an erstwhile leading copywriter for the greetings card industry. She is also a poem and joke-writer, a newspaper columnist and a seasoned after dinner speaker.

She won the RoNA for Best Romantic Comedy Novel of 2014 and 2016, the Yorkshire Society award for Arts and Culture 2015 and the Romantic Novelist Association Outstanding Achievement award in 2020. See her popular acceptance speech here.

She writes about love, life, friendships and the importance of community spirit. Her books champion women, their strength and resilience and celebrate her beloved Yorkshire.

Her latest book – My One True North tackles the subject of moving on after grief with a light and joyous touch. The Daily Trumpet makes a large appearance and previous novels ‘The Teashop on the Corner’ and ‘Here Come the Girls’ are referenced.

Milly’s website is She is on Twitter as @millyjohnson, Instagram as @themillyjohnson and has a Facebook page @MillyJohnsonAuthor. She also has a monthly newsletter with exclusive, news, offers and competitions.

About Quick Reads

Launched in 2006, Quick Reads has distributed over 4.8 million copies of more than 100 titles! The books have been loaned more than five million times through libraries and have established a reputation for publishing diverse works by top quality and popular authors, including Andy McNab, Jojo Moyes, Anne Cleeves, Ian Rankin and Benjamin Zephaniah.

Each year, we work with bestselling authors to produce 6 short and engaging books for adult readers. You can read reviews on Find A Read. Quick Reads are available to purchase from online retailers such as Hive, from bookshops across the country and can be borrowed from your local library.

We work with public libraries, prisons, colleges, hospitals and adult learning organisations to ensure these books are accessed by those who may find reading difficult as they are a perfect entry point to reading for pleasure.

The 2020 series

In 2018, after announcing that we had been unable to secure financial support to keep the programme going we received an incredible gift from best-selling author Jojo Moyes, author of Me Before You. She has generously offered us three years of funding to continue publishing Quick Reads.

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