Joining me today in the author spotlight is Irish author Caroline Grace Cassidy. Her latest novel, The Unexpected Love Story of Lexie Byrne, is published by Black & White and available now in paperback and ebook formats. I also am sharing my thoughts on this brilliant book with you.
Welcome Caroline – first of all, would you tell my blog readers a little about yourself?
Hi! Thanks for having me! I’m a mammy of two young girls and I’m a novelist and screenwriter. I write at the kitchen table (if that’s not available I write off the ironing board – it may as well have some use!!) I love to watch old movies – especially the romantic classics – Lexie Byrne does too! In fact she’s infatuated wot Dirty dancing and the chemistry between Baby and Johnny! We all are, right? I walk and listen to podcasts – I enjoy red wine and any cheese that’s available to me. I’ve also worked as a regular panellist on The Elaine Show – (very like UK’s Loose Woman) for the last 8 years. To sum me up its family first – everything else second.
What inspired you to start writing?
In my past life I was an actress! I worked alongside big names like Natalie Portman & Zoe Deschanel and I worked on the Irish soap, Fair City. Then I got married and as it occasionally goes was blessed with a baby bump and the auditions stopped. I was always inspired by the Irish writers, Patricia Scanlan & Marian Keyes – I’d wait anxiously for their new books and devour them! I have been an avid reader all my life.
Tell me about your journey to publication
At eight months pregnant I was lying on the couch eating a large bag of peanut M& M’s one morning watching daytime telly and saw a competition advertised for WRITE A BESTSELLER. I’d always thought I might have a novel in me so away I went and wrote my first novel, ‘When Love Takes Over’ – I didn’t win but I was the runner-up and got a three- book deal from Poolbeg Press.
In a nutshell, what is your book about?
It’s about never SETTLING. It’s about changing the narrative society has for women that we should be married and have babies before we hit 40. It’s about ignoring the ticking clock and holding out for someone who is really going to make you happy and worthy to spend the rest of your life with. I hope it’s empowering.
Lexie Byrne is content on her own, she doesn’t need a man but she wants one – the difference in that is colossal.
The book is also a story about nurturing your best friends and understanding the importance of them regardless of your relationship status.
How did you come up with the title for your book?
I knew I wanted to write about a woman turning 40 – so I thought I’d do an Adrian Mole on it and give her age on the cover! Her love story happens on a night she really doesn’t want to go out! Doesn’t it always!
How do you plan to celebrate publication day?
Unfortunately book shops still aren’t hosting launches so I will just raise a toast with my husband, my mam and dad and my two darling girls on August 12th … a toast or two that is!
Do you have a work in progress just now?
At the moment I’m working on the screenplay of my last novel, Bridesquad Runaway! It has been optioned by a very exciting company!
What one book would you recommend to a friend and why?
OPEN Andre Agassi. It’s incredible!
What are you reading just now?
I adore autobiographies – at the moment I’m reading Rabbit, by Patricia Williams – it’s incredible.
If you were on Desert Island Discs, what one book would you take with you?
Rachel’s Holiday by Marian Keyes – even though the subject matter is dark it’s hilarious and inspiring.
Is there a book you’d love to see made into a film?
Yes! Lexie Byrne!!
How can people follow you or connect with you on social media?
I’m on all the forums!
And finally, if you could be a character in any book you have read, who would it be and why?
I’d be Bridget Jones!
I love everything about her – especially her wonderful ability to live in the moment. She is quite fearless under it all.
She’s the kinda girl I want as a best friend!
The Unexpected Love Story of Lexie Byrne was so funny and warm, sheer enjoyment from start to finish. Lexie is such a great character, so caring and a great friend and while she so wants to find her happy ending, she’s not prepared to settle for just anyone. Let’s be honest, she’s looking for her Johnny Castle from Dirty Dancing. She wants to be like Baby and have that feeling that she’s found the one. When she meets Adam in a Dublin pub on St Patrick’s Day, it seems like they have that instant connection, that they recognise they are soulmates even from a brief encounter. And can we pause here to say just how hot Adam sounded! There’s just the slight drawback that Adam lives in England.
I really enjoyed all the references to films throughout, especially Dirty Dancing of course, and it was very clever how the author used the chapter titles to reflect an aspect of each chapter.
Friendship is key in this book too with Annemarie such an important person in Lexie’s life. They are always there for each other and not afraid to voice unpopular opinions. The banter between the two is hilarious at times and it’s fair to say that there are several points in the novel where they really do need each other.
You’ll notice that there is a quote from Marian Keyes on the front of the book and if you enjoy her style of writing you are going to love this funny and exuberant romance. There’s something about Irish writers, they do romantic comedy so well.
The Unexpected Love Story of Lexie Byrne was just the kind of light-hearted, escapist read I was needing and I thoroughly enjoyed joining Lexie on her unexpected journey to find love. This is a really funny and feel-good book that will have you laughing out loud, cheering Lexie on and hoping she gets her Dirty Dancing style happy ending.
From the back of the book
An irresistible love story . . . delivered with sparkle and wit
(in a too-tight red dress!)
Meet Lexie Byrne. The big 4-0 is looming, but she’s perfectly content without a man. How else could she watch movies on repeat and eat crisp sandwiches in bed? Finally free of her love-rat ex, she’s never settling again. Nothing less than ‘The One’ will do.
Then, after an electrifying encounter on a wild St Patrick’s Day, Lexie takes a leap of faith and a flight across the Irish Sea. But as sparks fly, Lexie’s dreams take a serious nosedive. Until an arrival no one anticipated . . .
Will the unexpected love story of Lexie Byrne have a happy ending after all?