Sunday, 22 December 2013

Bargain Read: Goodness, Grace and Me - Julie Houston*

When Harriet’s husband, Nick, throws in his safe, but boring job in order to set up a new business during the current recession, Harriet is distraught. More so when she realises Amanda, her and best friend Grace's old enemy from school is back in their lives. Amanda, it turns out, is Nick’s new boss’s wife and, because of her legal and language skills, will be accompanying Nick on his business trips to Italy. How will Nick not succumb to the ruthless charms of the utterly gorgeous Amanda once he’s away from Yorkshire and in glamorous Milan? 
Knowing Nick is being seduced is bad enough, but when Grace falls madly in love with Sebastian, Amanda’s precious, much younger son, it can only mean trouble ahead. Determined to fight for her man, Harriet’s seduction techniques go into overdrive. Unfortunately she is hampered in her attempts by two bolshy teenagers, an increasingly eccentric mother and a job teaching horrible children. Not to mention something very strange going on at the bottom of her garden! Can Harriet save her marriage, and also her friendship with Grace? And what will happen if Nick’s new venture fails, especially now that the one thing Harriet has not even considered in all this mess appears to be staring her right in the face…?

Let's be honest, Christmas isn't the cheapest time of year but I'm here to the rescue with a new bargain read.

When Julie Houston contacted me via twitter (you can follow me here - cough) and asked me if I wanted to review her debut book I jumped at the chance. I'll admit I was initially quite cautious about a book that proclaims itself as "hilarious", however, in this case I'll admit they were right on the money.

Houston's novel isn't really a romance per se, more of a family drama, tracking the lives of our couple after their HEA and while not my usual fare, Goodness, Grace and Me made for a welcome and refreshing change.

Harriet is happily married to the handsome Nick, mother of three and teacher of many. Harriet's life isn't overly romanticised or polished; her mother's ill, she fights with her best friend - oh! and her husband may just possibly be having an affair with her old high-school enemy whilst embarking on a risky business venture. Each character in the novel is is well developed, the relationship between Harriet and her best friend Grace as well written as that between her and her children. Hat handles the bumps in the road as well as any of us might, with the addition of some enviable aplomb and witty asides. Throughout, her dedication to her family and friends is obvious and it makes you want to run over, join her in her potting shed have a good gossip and enter the fold.

Houston's strong point lies in her detail of everyday life, evidently taking inspiration (along with some of the more humorous throw away lines) from her own experience. Houston definitely has an enviable skill in her easy writing style, her novel is relatable, engaging and natural. It's easy to empathise with the stressed-out Harriet and her chaotic entourage and I found myself escaping from my own household straight into hers.

Goodness, Grace and Me is occasionally obviously a first novel, some situations, whilst funny, don't seem to add much to the plot of the book. However, all the plot points entwine well and are wrapped up nicely. Additionally, rumour has it that a sequel is in the works and I, for one, can't wait to catch-up with the characters again and read more of Houston's work.

Only 99p on the Kindle Goodness, Grace and Me is a brilliantly amusing tale and is the perfect little treat to indulge in to escape the chaos over this holiday season.

*Copy received from the author in return for an honest review.

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