Reviewed by Emma Crowley
When a seaside escape spells a little romance . . .
Claire is ready for a bright new chapter. Winding her way to the coast for a cosy cottage retreat, she prays that three weeks of blissful peace and summer sunshine will wash away the pain of the last year.
Claire’s a survivor – she’s growing proud of the scars that prove it – and she’s determined to make the most of each and every day, to seize those little magic moments that give life its sparkle.
Her plan for peaceful solitude goes awry when handsome, brooding Ed turns up in the cottage next door. Will a little summer romance prove the worst distraction? Or might it be the perfect remedy?
Right from the moment I read the blurb of Caroline Roberts new book My Summer of Magic Moments I loved the entire concept of the story and thought it flowed well throughout and tied in well with Claire's journey. After a period of hardship and change for our main female protagonist is ready to attempt to move on and take stock of her life. What better way to do that than to escape everything for some time away to reassess and plan her next life move? In doing so she will learn to appreciate those 'magic moments' in life when you can sit back and take everything in and for Claire it will be a way to find some joy again in her life after being through such a traumatic event but one that readers would hope she would have emerged stronger from.
At the beginning of each chapter were some magic moments from readers or friends of the author and I thought it was a lovely touch and very inspiring. In fact the whole book was inspiring and Claire proved a strong woman and I enjoyed reading her story. I did initially think upon discovering Claire was coming out the other side of a cancer battle that this story may just prove a little too close to the bone for me and I would find it quite upsetting but instead the opposite proved to be true. It was uplifting and heart warming and not all doom and gloom which I had feared. In fact upon reflection with such a beautiful cover it couldn’t have been anything other than a lovely engaging story to read.
After a tumultuous year Claire needs a break to rest and recuperate. She rents what she believes to be an idyllic cottage near the coastal village of Bamburgh for some time away to put things into perspective. Immediately the reader can sense the cancer battle has changed Claire and she is not as confident as she once was. She would love to find that special someone who could be there for her in the future, someone she could share her hopes and dreams with but the scars that remain make her fearful that anyone could ever love her the way she deserves to be adored and cherished. I can relate in some small way to what Claire had experienced and I understood why she felt so apprehensive and felt the need to escape but it did seem she was isolating herself ever so slightly. When she arrives at the cottage, to say it doesn't live up to expectations is an understatement. It's falling apart and lacks the basic necessities but the surrounding area more than makes up for it and when early one morning she spots the handsome man next door taking a dip in the sea leaving his clothes on the beach well that more than makes up for the lack of basic amenities.
I totally understand that Claire was looking for a place of solitude and peace where she could relax, enjoy the sun and let her mind wander but for the first half of the book I thought there was a distinct lack of characters or those that were mentioned we never got to know much about them. Having described the location of the cottage and the lovely village of Bamburgh so well, so much so that I had my own vivid picture created in my mind and I wanted to holiday there, it was such a pity we didn't get to know more of the residents. Linda from the bakery makes a few appearances but I felt we were just skimming the surface and I wanted more. I know this was Claire's story to tell but I wanted her to interact with a few more people. When she finally gets to meet Ed from next door boy he couldn't have come across as less charming. He was gruff, abrupt and I hate to say it rude but I wondered was there a reason for this? Surely if you have a nice woman as a next door holiday neighbour you wouldn't have such an unwelcoming attitude but would rather engage in a little holiday fun?
The book moved along at a gentle, relaxed pace and for some time I felt nothing major happened and I suppose that's what happens when you are on holiday. Claire takes up bread making and it becomes like a form of therapy for her. Her sister Sally arrives for a weekend break and I enjoyed seeing the relationship between the pair. As Claire is a journalist her idea for a new blog 'magic moments' was excellent and fitted in well with the themes of the book but still I was waiting for something big to happen, that twist that keeps the reader rapidly turning the pages. I did feel the second half picked up the pace slightly and I loved how once back at work Claire took on some personal challenges but something kept drawing her back to the cottage.
We slowly got to know a little more about Ed and things seemed to be developing a bit more beyond a friendship but could things possibly work out given Ed was such a closed book? Could Claire herself open up fully? Was she ready to expose her true feelings and the scars of which I felt she should be proud as they marked her out as a true survivor. Someone who has battled through the lowest of lows and emerged out as a winner. She had been on a journey, a slow crawl at times but now was back in the right life lane. I just wondered would that lane bring her any long term happiness or would Ed prove too elusive? Some events and twists and turns may lead the readers to answers and I hoped against hope something positive and fruitful would be the eventual outcome.
My Summer of Magic Moments was the first book I have read by Caroline Roberts and it was a lovely, enjoyable read as was suggested by the bright, inviting cover. Although I did find it an uplifting and sweet read it didn't totally blow me away, I was hoping for just that little bit more. There was something ever so slightly lacking for me that would have made this a truly brilliant read. That said I am glad I read this book and will go back and read the author's teashop series in the future.
Many thanks to Harper Impulse UK for my copy of My Summer of Magic Moments to review via NetGalley and to Sharon for having my review on the blog.