Friday, 8 April 2016

Emma's Review: The Second Chance Shoe Shop by Marcie Steele

Reviewed by Emma Crowley

All Riley Flynn wants is to meet someone who makes her happy. But attracting the right kind of man is not easy, and with her heart still hurting from her last break-up, Riley believes she’ll never find love again. 

A year ago, Sadie Stewart’s whole world was shattered when her husband, Ross, died. She has struggled to keep herself together for the sake of their young daughter, but with the anniversary of his death approaching, Sadie finds herself overwhelmed by grief. 

Sadie and Riley work at Chandlers shoe shop, in the charming town of Hedworth. But when Chandlers is threatened with closure, the friends are confronted with the loss of not only their jobs, but also their support network - the glue that holds them together when they are close to breaking. 

As they put together a plan to save their beloved shop, Sadie realises that she might just be learning to live again. Could it be that new beginnings are just round the corner? The campaign also finds Riley unexpectedly crossing paths with charming photographer, Ethan. Maybe her second chance at love is right under her feet… 

Amazon link: Kindle

This is the third book from Mel Sherratt writing as Marcie Steele but the first I have read from this author writing under either name. I'm not the biggest fan of the crime genre Mel writes in so have never experienced any of her writing before. But when I saw the cover for this new Marcie Steele book The Second Chance Shoe Shop I was instantly drawn in and knew I wanted to read this book. The cover is so eye-catching and when it was revealed on Twitter many people did agree it was such a beautiful cover that made you want to dive straight in and discover just what The Second Chance Shoe Shop had to offer. Again it sounded in a similar vein to several books I have read recently but this one had a slightly different angle and I was glad. In the books I am referring to our main character has something happen to them that forces them to reassess their lives and give up everything for pastures new. A chance to experience a different way of life and make up for all that was not possible in the past. The shoe shop idea doesn't appear to have been covered so far unlike the farm, the new cottage in the country or an up-cycling shop. What makes this book stand out from the rest is that our main protagonist doesn't give everything up rather when the going gets tough the tough get going. Riley is a woman who doesn't give in to things that easily especially when everything is going against her. If she believes something can work with a little bit of time, patience and initiative then she puts 110% in to it. 

I've only ever heard good things about Marcie Steele's writing. People seem to rave about her books and now I can see why. I thoroughly enjoyed this book from beginning to end and flew through it in a couple of hours. It has the right balance between humour and light and serious storylines and makes for the most perfect, heart-warming read.

The Second Chance Shoe Shop opens with Riley Flynn eagerly preparing for Christmas. The first Christmas she will spend with her boyfriend Nicholas. The presents are all wrapped, the food prepared, the scene is set but at the very last minute a phone call lets her down. Nicholas is not all he seems. In fact he has been lying to Riley and no matter how much she may have wished this relationship to have worked it can't because Nicholas has been misleading. He is married with kids and will not leave his family. Of course Riley is crushed and also extremely angry to have been treated this way but she does what she does best, dusts herself down and moves on and attempts to put the past behind her. So her personal life is not the best and neither is her professional working situation. 

Riley is the shop manager for Chandler's shoe shop in the town of Hedworth. The shop has been an institution in the town for many years passed down for several generations. But Suzanne (daughter of the last owner) is stuck in the past and will not listen to any changes Riley is pleading with her to make for the sake of the business. The shop Riley loves so much is in danger of closing for good. If this happens her co workers and friends Dan and Sadie will also be jobless. Riley can't let this happen and is determined to do something about it. Chandler's needs help and fast and Riley just may be the person to do it even it means going against Suzanne's wishes and encountering many obstacles in her way.

The author completely nailed the characters and the setting. I could just imagine Chandler's shoe shop, a small shop where the elderly residents of the town went to buy their shoes and have a gossip with the staff. Riley knows the shop needs to come into the modern era and the ways she went about achieving things were clever and bang up to date with the times. Riley was a brilliant character, she was never pushy or over eager and always looked out for her friends. It was said towards the end that Riley always looked out for everyone else and her friends let her to do everything for them, that she was taken for granted. I wouldn't fully agree with this as Sadie was suffering and needed that extra bit of support and as for Dan he was a law onto himself (in a good way) going on numerous often disastrous dates dates to find the one woman for him. He provided plenty of comedic moments although overall my own minor complaint about the book was that his storyline wasn't as strong as the others and I would have liked it to turn out a little differently for him. Initially I thought from the first few chapters that 

Sadie was an older character who worked in the shoe shop well that was the impression I got but soon we discover she has a little girl called Esther who stole every scene she featured in. Sadie has been through a very rough time recently and turns to an online forum for help to get her through the dark days. She finds comfort and solace and reads word of sympathy and advice just when she needs them. It was brave to put Sadie's storyline in here because initial judgements of the book would have you thinking this was going to a light easy, fun read and then this serious plot is slotted in. Don't get me wrong it's not all doom and gloom and was handled extremely well and with sensitivity so it did have it's place here in this book and balanced nicely with all the antics of attempting to save the shop.

The friendship between Riley, Sadie and Dan was evident for all to see. The camaraderie in the shop and the easy way they were with each other always there to have each others backs was just a joy to read. I felt their pain and anger that the shop may have to close but also their determination and strong will to not go down without a fight. Riley cooks up a plan to bring in more customers and this showed us just how clever she was and was probably wasted in the shop when she could have had a job which put her creative talents to good use. What I really liked in this book was the author's use of Twitter as a way of saving the shop. It was so relevant to today especially as many of us are social media addicts and obviously it is the way forward in promoting books or anything really. Riley showed she was media savvy even if the bad side of Twitter did rear its ugly ahead in the most unfortunate of ways. The campaign that Riley launches was fresh and innovative and so relevant to today and with a little help from the local newspaper (loved the mention of the Kim Nash character from the newspaper by the way) Riley sees things taking off at a frantic pace. But will it be enough to save their beloved shop or will Suzanne have something else up her sleeve in a bid to stop Riley helping Chandlers move into the modern era?

Of course there had to have been a dash of romance thrown in but I'm not saying for which character or how it all pans out. I was glad though that this wasn't the entire focus of the book as this has been done to death. Really this was a book about friendship, emotions, survival, guts and a strong heart and mind to see you through anything that life throws in your path. It wasn't all plain sailing and as I said the ugly side of social media reared its head and I have to say I was so angry on Riley's behalf for what was unfolding and for the way she had been treated. She had been giving her all to save the business but the extra attention on the shop brought things crawling out of the woodwork that really should have stayed there. I'm glad Riley showed her true nature and grit even when events made her feels she was the worst ever. Honestly a lot of what unfolded was out of her control. 

The Second Chance Shoe Shop was a truly gorgeous read and reminded me that Bookouture are at the top of their game constantly publishing books that engage readers and leave them wanting more. I loved this book right from the very first page and was sad to leave a wonderful bunch of warm and lovable characters who for a few hours had me in their thrall with all their adventures and life experiences. This book didn't disappoint as it proved to be uplifting with its splash of romance and its fighting spirit. I would definitely recommended The Second Chance Shoe Shop perfect for curling up on the couch with or relaxing on a sun lounger in the garden. I for one will now have to check out Marcie's two previous books and if there anything as enjoyable as this one I am in for a real treat.

Many thanks to Bookouture for my copy of The Second Chance Shoe Shop to review via NetGalley and to Sharon for having my review on the blog.

1 comment:

  1. This sounds like a great read. I will look out for a copy. Fantastic review as always.