*BLOG TOUR* The Beauty of Broken Things by Victoria Connelly

It is my pleasure to bring you my review of The Beauty of Broken Things as part of Victoria Connelly’s fabulous blog tour.

United by tragedy, can two broken souls make each other whole?

After the tragic loss of his wife, Helen, Luke Hansard is desperate to keep her memory alive. In an effort to stay close to her, he reaches out to an online friend Helen often mentioned: a reclusive photographer with a curious interest in beautiful but broken objects. But first he must find her—and she doesn’t want to be found.

Orla Kendrick lives alone in the ruins of a remote Suffolk castle, hiding from the haunting past that has left her physically and emotionally scarred. In her fortress, she can keep a safe distance from prying eyes, surrounded by her broken treasures and insulated from the world outside.

When Luke tracks Orla down, he is determined to help her in the way Helen wanted to: by encouraging her out of her isolation and back into the world. But Orla has never seen her refuge as a prison and, when painful secrets and dangerous threats begin to resurface, Luke’s good deed is turned on its head.

As they work through their grief for Helen in very different ways, will these two broken souls be able to heal?

I must confess to having only read one of Victoria Connelly’s novels before: A Weekend with Mr Darcy, which I loved. The Beauty of Broken Things is really quite different though. I was drawn in by the synopsis, which tells us we have two characters who have had very different experiences of life but have caused them each to break in their own way.

Luke Hansard’s whole world came tumbling down the day his wife didn’t make it home from work. In his 30s and already a widower, he doesn’t know how to move on with his life without his beloved wife Helen. His days are spent going over the ‘what ifs’ as he struggles to come to terms with his loss. In a bid to stay close to his lost wife, Luke seeks out an online friend of hers, someone he knows Helen was keen to help. By helping this person that Helen so clearly wanted to support, he hopes to stay close to his wife while providing assistance to someone who may need it.

Orla Kendrick is a recluse, living alone in her Suffolk castle, hidden from the world. Her physical and emotional scars cause her to live in constant fear, and so instead she lives her life online, through her beautiful photographs of broken and damaged china. She is desperate to remain closed off from the world, so when Luke finds her, a stranger who claims his wife knows her, she panics and attempts to withdraw once more.

Both Luke and Orla are damaged and hurt in their own ways, but they have a common link: Helen. Whilst Orla may not have physically met her, they had connected online in a way that Orla had not expected to do. So when Luke arrives to personally deliver the news of Helen’s death, Orla is blindsided. Even within the protective walls of her castle, she is not immune to what happens in the outside world. Luke on the other hand is struggling with his grief, and is therefore looking for something to channel his time and energy into. What he finds in Orla is unexpected. He finds a woman who is fearful of everything, and whilst he understands her reasons why, he seeks to help her realise that life cannot be feared if you really want to live.

This is such a beautiful novel. It was unexpected and yet wonderful to read a novel that focussed on a friendship, however unlikely, between a man and a woman who both just needed someone to guide them through their own darkness. Luke and Orla should never have met, and yet their own tragic circumstances drew them together at a time when they both really needed someone.

I am very happy to recommend The Beauty of Broken Things. It highlights experiences that sadly do happen, (Orla’s is an experience that no person should ever have to go through, but sadly it is something we are now hearing about more and more in the press) but it shows that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, particularly if you are willing to let someone in to help guide you there. Orla and Luke were both wonderful characters, with excellent character arcs. They were both believable and relatable. Victoria Connelly has done an excellent job of highlighting that the journey to peace is just as important as the destination.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Thank you to both Victoria Connelly and Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour, and for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review.

Purchase Links 

UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B07YKW2D3B

US: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07YKW2D3B

Aus: https://www.amazon.com.au/gp/product/B07YKW2D3B

Author Bio

Victoria Connelly studied English Literature at Worcester University, got married in a medieval castle in the Yorkshire Dales and now lives in rural Suffolk with her artist husband, a young springer spaniel and a flock of ex-battery hens. She is the million-selling author of two bestselling series, Austen Addicts and The Book Lovers, as well as many other novels and novellas. Her first published novel, Flights of Angels, was made into a film in 2008 by Ziegler Films in Germany. The Runaway Actress was shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Romantic Comedy Novel award.

Victoria loves books, films, walking, historic buildings and animals. If she isn’t at her keyboard writing, she can usually be found in her garden either with a trowel in her hand or a hen on her lap.

Social Media Links

www.victoriaconnelly.com

Instagram: @victoriaconnellyauthor

http://www.instagram.com/victoriaconnellyauthor/

Facebook: @victoriaconnellyauthor

http://www.facebook.com/victoriaconnellyauthor

Twitter: @VictoriaDarcy
https://www.twitter.com/victoriadarcy

Book Review: The Summer Island Swap by Samantha Tonge

I am very happy to bring to you all my review of The Summer Island Swap by Samantha Tonge.

After a long and turbulent year, Sarah is dreaming of the five-star getaway her sister has booked them on. White sands, cocktails, massages, the Caribbean is calling to them. 
But the sisters turn up to tatty beaches, basic wooden shacks, a compost toilet and outdoor cold water showers. It turns out that at the last minute Amy decided a conservation project would be much more fun than a luxury resort. 
So now Sarah’s battling mosquitos, trying to stomach fish soup and praying for a swift escape. Life on a desert island though isn’t all doom and gloom. They’re at one with nature, learning about each other and making new friends. And Sarah is distracted by the dishy, yet incredibly moody, island leader she’s sure is hiding a secret.

I write this review whilst hoping it will bring back the beautiful lockdown weather…fingers crossed!

Sarah is a young woman with a career plan. Working in hospitality, she is keen to make her mark on the hotel business, wanting to work her way up to a luxury resort where she can really have an impact on customers hotel experiences. She is hard working and driven, and she pushes to provide her sister Amy with a roof over her head and the support she needs to succeed in the veterinary world.

When Amy has a small windfall, she is keen to repay Sarah with an all expenses paid trip to the British Virgin Islands. A four week trip, spending her time experiencing luxury whilst researching a top-end hotel is just what Sarah needs. What Sarah actually gets though is really rather different…

Concerned that Sarah will spend their trip with her work head on, Amy instead books a four week trip to a conservation project in the British Virgin Islands. Hard work, compost toilets and wooden shacks for accommodation were not exactly what Sarah had in mind, although hunky Island leader Rick could certainly change her view of the place!

This is a modern twist on the classic ‘fish out of water’ story. Upon arriving at their beautiful destination, Sarah is immediately out of her comfort zone. She is forced into a situation that she ultimately hates, all whilst trying to maintain a facade of happiness to her sister who she refuses to disappoint. As we all know though, it is only when we are uncomfortable or put into new situations that we get to learn about ourselves, and what we really want from life.

I really liked Sarah as a character. I could relate to how protective of her sister she was, even if it did stifle Amy at times. Her drive to succeed comes from a lifetime of put downs, and again, it’s completely relatable. Her entire persona makes sense, and so watching her struggle with her new surroundings sometimes makes difficult reading. Don’t get me wrong, this is a light-hearted novel with some romance thrown in for good measure, but that doesn’t make the characters any less relatable or interesting to follow.

This is really nice, easy to read novel, set in a luscious location (if we can’t go on holiday in real life then we may as well visit far flung places within the pages of novels!). This is a great novel for readers interested in conservation, desert islands and characters who need to work out what they really want from life – if only I could do that from a desert island! Grab yourself a cocktail and settle down with this novel!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Thanks to Aria for providing me with a copy of this novel via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

Book Review: Do You Dream of Terra-Two? by Temi Oh

Today I am pleased to bring you my review of Do You Dream of Terra-Two by Temi Oh.

A century ago, scientists theorised that a habitable planet existed in a nearby solar system. Today, ten astronauts will leave a dying Earth to find it. Four are decorated veterans of the 20th century’s space-race. And six are teenagers, graduates of the exclusive Dalton Academy, who’ve been in training for this mission for most of their lives.

It will take the team twenty-three years to reach Terra-Two. Twenty-three years spent in close quarters. Twenty-three years with no one to rely on but each other. Twenty-three years with no rescue possible, should something go wrong. And something always goes wrong.

So I am sad to say that this novel has been sat on my Kindle for sometime. I really enjoy a sci-fi novel, but will often pick up another genre over it. I have no idea why I do this, given the fact that I enjoy them once I get started!

Do You Dream of Terra-Two is a novel that explores the possibility of space travel and where it can take us. It is not however a dystopian novel, and I must admit that I probably chose to read it because I thought that it was (or at least an escape from a dystopian world). Whilst it was not the novel I thought it would be, I was not disappointed.

Harry, Jesse, Juno, Astrid, Aria, Eliot and Poppy are our teenage astronauts, graduates of the highly esteemed Dalton Academy, whose sole purpose was to pick the crew for the first space mission to leave earth in order to inhabit Terra-Two, a far off planet which was believed to be a close match to Earth. Each of these individuals were chosen not only for their intelligence, although this was an important factor, but also for their perceived strength and endurance for a mission from which they would never return. Due to the lengthy journey, it was deemed necessary to have a young cohort of astronauts for the mission alongside their more experienced counterparts. They would effectively be trained on the job, trained to take over from their senior officers who would probably be too old for leadership roles in the latter stages of the journey or once they reached Terra-Two.

This novel is very much about the journey. The journey to Terra-Two, the journey to adulthood, the journey to self-discovery. These teenagers were chosen as young children, chosen for a mission that could possibly be the most important mission in Earths history. They were taught and trained in ways that many couldn’t even imagine. All of this impacts on each of them in different ways, as they continue to ensure that Terra-Two remains their one and only focus in life. As they are hit by tragedy before even taking off, as well as changes to their senior crew at the last minute, this mission is fraught right from the beginning. It would be wrong to tell you all that this is a novel about space travel though, because it isn’t. It is first and foremost a novel about characters, and how they develop when forced into close quarters in what is not a normal situation. These individuals are not allowed to grow up or even make mistakes in the way that normal teenagers do. These individuals all experience loss, love, belief and belonging whilst in the confines of a very small spacecraft, on a journey that will take them 23 years.

This is such an interesting exploration of how different characters react to different extreme situations. Despite such diverse backgrounds and upbringings, they are eventually forced onto an equal footing, and watching how they each deal with it is fascinating. Temi Oh really captures each of them beautifully in my opinion, and I am very pleased that I picked up this novel and gave it a read.

I really enjoyed reading this, and I am more than happy to recommend it to you all. I look forward to seeing what Temi Oh brings us next!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this novel via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

Book Review: The Flat Share by Beth O’Leary

Today it is my pleasure to bring you my review of The Flat Share by Beth O’Leary.

Tiffy and Leon share a flat
Tiffy and Leon share a bed
Tiffy and Leon have never met…

Tiffy Moore needs a cheap flat, and fast. Leon Twomey works nights and needs cash. Their friends think they’re crazy, but it’s the perfect solution: Leon occupies the one-bed flat while Tiffy’s at work in the day, and she has the run of the place the rest of the time. 

But with obsessive ex-boyfriends, demanding clients at work, wrongly imprisoned brothers, and, of course, the fact that they still haven’t met yet, they’re about to discover that if you want the perfect home you need to throw the rulebook out the window…

I am a little late to this show if I’m honest – I feel that the whole world has read this before me! It has been sat on my TBR pile for quite some time now, however lockdown finally allowed me the time to pick it up (I knew there had to be a silver lining to lockdown somewhere!)

Tiffy Moore desperately needs somewhere cheap to live, which will allow her to easily commute to work – when the opportunity to rent a one bedroom flat arises, she jumps at the chance. However there is one rather different condition to the rental – she has to share it, with a stranger.

Leon Twomey is a palliative care nurse who works night shifts to help him pay for his brother Richie’s legal support – Richie is in prison after being wrongly accused of committing an armed robbery. With a girlfriend who is not exactly supportive of him assisting his brother, and legal fees mounting with very little to show for it, he needs the money.

Tiffy and Leon’s friendship flourishes as they gradually get to know each other via post-it notes left around their shared flat, as they attempt to encourage and help each other despite not actually meeting.

This is such a lovely story – I really loved both Tiffy and Leon as characters. They both have excellent character development, and I loved how their friendship deepened well before they even set eyes on each other. I am so pleased to be able to recommend this to you all, I loved it and I know you all will too!

Rating: 📖 📖 📖 📖 📕