An uplifting and feel-good read perfect for fans of Mhairi McFarlane and Beth O’Leary!
‘A heart-warming, life-affirming gem . . . full of wry humour’ Pernille Hughes
Palliative care doctor, Tess Carter, is no starry-eyed heroine. After all, if your dad left without a backward glance and you found your last boyfriend in bed with another guy, you wouldn’t believe in romance either. And the voices in Tess’s head – you know, the ones that tell you you’re not good enough, not pretty enough, not clever enough – well, these voices are very loud. Very loud indeed. Especially when the disagreeable son of one of her patients starts challenging her every decision.
Edward Russell might have a big job and a posh voice, but Tess is determined not to let him get to her, especially if she can get her inner monologue to stop with the endless self-sabotage. And Edward, it turns out, may be less of a prat than he first appears…
In the real world, where gentlemanlike manners and out-of-the-blue declarations of love are a story-book fantasy, it’s up to Tess to decide whose voice to listen to … and how to make her own heard.
TW: Cancer, death of a loved one, detailed scenes during hospice care
One of those books that is very difficult to classify in terms of its genre.
Romance?the title would make you think so, but there’s so much more going on in the book. Rom-com? If you’ve read the blurb and the list of Trigger Warnings, you know Tess is doing her Palliative Care placement in a hospice, and this is probably the last place where you would expect a romcom to be set.
Women’s fiction? the protagonist of the book Dr Tess Carter is still finishing her medical training before she can start working as a GP, so she has less life experience than what we usually expect from the main characters in women’s fiction.
Chick-lit? there are some features… Tess is suffering from self-esteem issues following her boyfriend’s betrayal. She also needs to silence her inner saboteur, an imaginary daytime TV presenter, who takes a great pleasure in attacking every step Tess makes. On the bright side, Tess is constantly defended by another imaginary figure-Miss Jane Austen herself!
Tess has a wonderful best friend/flatmate Kath, a chubby ginger cat Morris, a very supportive mum and brother, and a job she loves. She just needs to figure out what to do with her love interest Edward who vanished from her life five years ago and now suddenly re-appeared – this time as an angry, mistrustful son of one of her patients.
I decided to leave aside all of my expectations and genre stereotypes and just went with the flow of the story. It turned out to be a very engaging book which touches on a variety of real-life topics ranging from absent fathers, eating disorders, double standards in raising boys and girls to general avoidance of talking about death, the only certainty in our lives. I was surprised how many of them hit close to home!
What I liked the most about this book were the more serious parts- Tess’s work with her patients, Dr Fielding’s talk with Tess’s patient and her family, the general atmosphere of calm, support and mutual respect. Favourite supporting character? Mary Russell, Tess’s patient and Edward’s mother.
I also liked seeing Tess grow into herself. If you find the TV host’s voice unbearably irritating, you will appreciate how he gradually fades out as the book progresses. I didn’t like some of the things Tess did- I can understand her feelings, though, and her desire to re-affirm life. I think it was important to raise the thought-provoking issues of trust, vulnerability, professional distance and boundaries, as well as the emotional toll this job takes, and make the readers react in the most visceral way.
I would have prefered a different kind of ending (although Kath’s reaction to seeing Edward was priceless), a less uplifting, but more realistic one? I’m probably going to be in minority 🙂
Overall, I’m glad I picked up this book. It wasn’t exactly light-hearted, but it was engaging and I would love to read the next book Nancy Peach writes.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher (Harper Collins UK, OneMore Chapter) for the review copy, provided in exchange for an honest opinion.
About the author:
Nancy is a writer of commercial women’s fiction, a mother of three and an owner of various ridiculous looking pets including a dog who unexpectedly grew to be the size of a small horse. She is also a practicing doctor working for both the NHS and a national cancer charity. Over the years her medical job has provided her with an insight into many aspects of human behaviour, across all walks of life, and she is endlessly fascinated by the people she meets.
She has always loved to write and finds the process incredibly therapeutic as well as being a welcome diversion from some of the less glamourous aspects of her other roles. Being a medical doctor, her sense of humour is already quite dark; she prides herself on being able to find comedy in challenging scenarios and has found this to be an essential skill in both her domestic and working life. Love and laughter are the best of medicines and she tries to channel as much of them as possible into her blogs www.mumhasdementia.com and www.nancy-peach.com as well as her books – casting a wry and discerning eye over the human condition and tackling heavyweight issues with a light comedic touch.
Nancy’s work has been longlisted for the Comedy Women in Print Prize and shortlisted for a Harper Collins / Gransnet competition. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and is represented by Tanera Simons at Darley Anderson Literary Agency. Her debut novel Love Life is published by One More Chapter at Harper Collins.
If you would like to find out what other bloggers thought about the book, I recommend checking out Yesha’s review (booksteacupreviews.com) Julie’s review (alittlebookproblem.co.uk) and Julie’s Romancing the Romance authors Qand A with Nancy Peach.