I enjoyed reading Lucy Robinson’s debut, The Greatest Love Story of All Time so when a finished copy of A Passionate Love Affair with a Total Stranger arrive from Francesca Russell at Penguin/Michael Joseph I knew I was in for a treat.
From the very beginning the reader is made aware of Charley’s lifestyle … always on the go, organised, health conscious and with never a spare moment. It’s at the picnic she’s organised for lodger Sam (in a very short time and with very little sleep) to celebrate his engagement to Yvonne when best mate Hayley shows Charley an article about a US entrepreneur who has set up a ghost-writing business for online daters. Charley receives a text from her boss John which causes her to careen down Salisbury Crags. Waking up in hospital to find John sitting on her bed, her bubble is soon burst when ex Dr Nathan Gillies shares information that turns Charley’s romantic hopes upside down.
Not letting her injury and time off work deter her, she sets up First Date Aid and with the help of Sam, turns the ghost-writing into a viable business. It’s when responding to William for a client that she realises her client is very similar to herself … and during the emails, discovers things about herself (as well as falling in love with William).
Despite the predictability of the plot, the characters and how we arrive there are hugely entertaining. Charley entertained me with her approach to life and her interactions with Sam. At times I found myself snorting along with her … When she falls in love with William and comes to an understanding, her disbelief and then withdrawal only endeared her to me even more. Charley’s eccentric family and best friend Hayley round out the story with subplots and the rivalry between Charley and Margot at Salutech gives the reader the conflict and a character we love to detest. Margot really did make my skin crawl!
The attraction and intimacy with CEO John is quite electric and the ‘other’ romance (no spoilers!) is beautifully written. I loved the build-up to the scene at the Stage Manager’s desk, from Charley sat on the edge of the stage to the mad dash up the stairs and finally to the audience’s cheers that filtered up to them. The romance fitted perfectly with what we know about the personalities of the characters.
A Passionate Love Affair with a Total Stranger is a well-paced and entertaining read with characters easy to identify with. You may well find yourself cheering, will definitely find yourself laughing/snorting and certainly you’ll be clenching your fists when Margot is around. You may have the odd tear too … At the end you will sigh and feel that all is right with the world. This is a story that will leave you with that feel-good factor.
I would like to thank the publishers for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.