*I received a free ARC of this book with thanks to the author and Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources blog tours. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Love can sometimes be really complicated…
Josh Nightingale has always been married to his books. Happy to run his bookshop in the small town of Castle Clare, he’s never really had time for romance and truly believes that he’s never going to fall in love. But, when April Channing opens a new shop opposite his, everything changes.
Sweet and attentive one moment, abrupt and aloof the next, Josh really can’t understand April at all. What exactly is going on? Josh is pretty sure that the answer can’t be found in a book.
Join the Nightingale family once again for this deliciously heartwarming novel, the forth in The Book Lovers series, by the bestselling author of The Rose Girls and A Weekend with Mr Darcy.
This is the fourth book in the Book Lovers romantic series, all featuring the love trials and tribulations of the bookish Nightingale family. Each book in the series stands completely alone, but they also tie together nicely with references back and forward to each other, so I personally think they are best read in series order for the full character and plot development benefits.
Book four features Josh as the central character, with some lovely cameos from Callie, Sam, Polly, Jago, Archie, Bryony and Ben, not to mention the rest of the Nightingale clan. We also revisit the book club a couple of times, and get to delve more into the side character of Winston Kneller – his own romantic history and his troublesome relationship with his pill of a brother, Monty.
Going in to this book, I didn’t feel I knew Josh as well as the other Nightingale siblings – Polly, Sam and Bryony seem to feature quite heavily in each other’s love lives while Josh and Lara didn’t seem to get such a prominent role. With Lara that’s because she’s off at university, doing her student thing most of the time, but now I understand why Josh was more of a background character… he’s an introvert!
A genuine introvert, mind. Not anti-social or people-hating, but simply someone who is introspective and quiet and prefers his own company for the most part. It makes a lovely change to have a socially awkward main character who is quite happy with his personality and life as it is. Well, content, anyway! Because there is a new shopowner in County Clare who is going to shake things up a little bit for wallflower Josh, and bring some colour into his rather beige, bachelor life.
There are a couple of mysteries surrounding April Channing (one of which I found a little implausible!), which make for an exciting read as you try to figure out why she is acting so strangely and whether her secrets could bring heartache to Josh, just as he started opening his heart up a bit. I love April’s family background and how Josh is rather realistically confused about everything, but also open-minded and accepting of people and situations that are far beyond his own familiar comfort zone. I also loved that there was no easy fix-it solution to April’s worries – sad though it was, it made for compelling and realistic reading. I cried!
Victoria Connelly has created a wonderful, warm world in Castle Clare, that makes the reader long to visit the bookshops, scoff one of Colin’s pastries, stroke Delilah (with a nose-peg on), feed Flo’s chickens, and of course, go for a Sunday lunch with the Nightingale family en masse. Plus, the many references to books and reading make them a joy for any book-loving reader.
These are cosy, sweet romances, perfect for touching and then cheering the heart, and I hope there are more to come. We still have Lara Nightingale and Cousin Megan, at least, and I can’t leave Castle Clare for good without seeing Eleanor get another grandchild and Colin the Baker finally find his soulmate. These people are family, after all!
‘I’d just like to see you happy.’
Josh frowned. ‘But I am happy!’
‘I know. But you could be even happier.’ Sam came forward and play punched him on the arm and Josh watched as he left the shop. A blissful silence followed. It was just Josh and the books. He closed his eyes and inhaled the all-pervading smell of new books. Different, but just as engrossing as the scent of old books, it calmed Josh down, bringing him back to what was important in his life.
And, as he moved around the familiar domain of his shop, straightening a book here and swapping a book there, he knew that a pretty woman was all very well, but she could never hope to usurp the place which books held in his heart.
– Victoria Connelly, Scenes from a Country Bookshop
Don’t forget to stop by the other blogs on this tour (see the poster below for details) for more great content and reviews!