Friday, 4 May 2018

Emma's Review: My Big Greek Summer by Sue Roberts

Reviewed by Emma Crowley

Carefree, thirty-something Mandy thought she’d be married to first-love Danny forever. 

So when she discovers her heart-throb husband has had a fling, she realises it’s time to make some BIG changes. But what will Mandy do now she’s single for the first time in her adult life?

Determined to find her spark again, Mandy hops on a plane, ready for adventure and a second chance at happiness. Escaping to a sun-drenched Greek island, the glittering blue seas, golden beaches and delicious cocktails are exactly what she needs. 

Over one spontaneous summer, Mandy has the time of her life making new friends in a pretty little Mediterranean village by the sea. And she finds herself unexpectedly falling for a tall, dark, handsome stranger. But Mandy soon realises that even paradise has its problems…

Can a holiday romance really heal her broken heart? Or will someone in Mandy’s old life call her home again? 

Amazon Affiliate Links: Kindle or Paperback 

Many thanks to Bookouture via NetGaley for my copy of My Big Greek Summer to review and to Sharon for having my review on the blog.

My Big Greek Summer by Sue Roberts is a very easy, light, read perfect for whiling a few hours away on a sun lounger whilst abroad in sunnier climes. The story follows Mandy, aged 29 who is attempting to get her life back on track after what she thought would be her happily ever after turned into more than a disaster.

Husband Dave, who she has been with since she was 15, has been having an affair and as soon as this discovery was made he was shown the door. Now Mandy's job working in the Pig and Whistle pub is her only outlet, it is what makes her get up in the morning. It has been her saving grace and alongside the heartbreak diet her life has descended into one of normality and endless routine. She begins to question whether this will be it forever or will love ever make a permanent reappearance in her life at any stage in the future? Mandy's job is her salvation and she enjoys meeting the regulars and hearing their stories but she feels there has to be more out there for her? Was there something bigger waiting for her when she made Dave leave?

Given the book had both such a summery cover and title I presumed a Greek island would form the basis for the majority of the plot and setting. Instead I found the first quarter was dedicated to explaining Mandy's back story and what point her heart, mind and emotions were at with regard to the life situation she found herself in. This was all well and good, and yes it did need to be explained, but I thought it would have worked better if we had gotten straight into her going away and then letting her story be revealed piece by piece as she was away. I felt once Mandy was given the opportunity to take some time away from work given she was beginning to make careless errors and her mind and attention span was wandering , that for me was when the story really got going.

Of course I did feel empathy for Mandy, no one wants to have their perfect, ideal life snatched out from underneath them especially when you fully believed everything was rosy in the garden and not much could happen to change that. We didn't get inside the head of Dave that much, more so we followed Mandy's viewpoint and insights into the whole débâcle. But I did feel he was spineless and claiming married life had descended into endless drudgery, boredom and routine is simply not a good enough excuse in any way or form to cheat on your wife.

Mandy questions how she will manage without a man by her side? She feels she has become a failure when really she shouldn't feel that way at all given Dave was the one at fault. It's only as Mandy takes the bull by the horns and books a holiday to Thakos in Rhodes, where she once holidayed as a child and still has such fond memories of, did I feel the story stepped up a gear and there wasn't as much doom and gloom and feeling endlessly sorry for one self.

From the moment Mandy stepped off the plane into the heat and sunshine the book became a much better read. I enjoyed the descriptions of the town, streets, beach and the hotel where Mandy stayed. As the holiday began to work it's magic on Mandy and she began to relax and forget about her worries and stresses I felt she changed as a character and I became to warm to her more. I did want a positive outcome for her, and yes it was predictable as to what would happen, but it was enjoyable enough to see how we reached that point.

The holiday becomes even more adventurous when best friend Hayley arrives and lots of fun and frolics ensue. I thought the remainder of the book would be set solely on the island but instead a ten day holiday literally was the ten days. I didn't like what happened when she returned, to be honest Mandy was very gullible and foolish and it seemed as if she forget every piece of advice she had ever been given. She was learning a lesson but going down a very hard road to do so.

I enjoyed the focus on bringing the town of Thakos back to life as it had been struggling to attract the tourists and keep the townspeople in jobs. The idea from Mandy was clever and innovative. In doing this for the village I suppose after her second major upset it was a way of moving forward and learning to heal. Helping others would bring her great pleasure. Having an old 'friend' from school Janet back on the scene was a genius idea in that old wounds and struggles could be put to bed but she was also helping Mandy with her big idea. The story-lines working concurrently worked well. The book flew by in the latter half as preparations are made, yet the romance element seemed very much on the slim side. It was there but never really fully explored enough for me, it all just seemed to happen quite suddenly without a bit of indecision and going back and forth which a romantic chick lit book should have.

The ending felt very rushed with things being wrapped up too quickly. It needed some depth and substance to it, some fleshing out as some of the solutions to the big plans Mandy had for her major project just seemed to easy and convenient. There was also a storyline in the last 10% that given the overall nature and tone of the book I'm not necessarily sure it needed to be there or else it should have been introduced earlier and explored in much more depth. All that said My Big Greek Summer was an enjoyable, if not the most memorable read, and people looking for some escapist reading for their summer holidays would enjoy this story.

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