Welcome back to Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers.
Today, we're starting to really reel in the season as the holiday approaches us at lightning speed. Here's hoping your gifts are bought, wrapped, and ready for Santa to deliver come Christmas Eve. My status? I'm in the bought phase, but still need to wrap; no judging! I'm a busy woman just like the rest of you. ^_^ ...but not TOO busy to share this AMAZING READ with you.
That's right. No pussy-footing around with this one; it was downright AMAZING. It has so many things going for it that I don't even know where to begin telling you about it! Oh wait...it might help if I reveal WHAT book I'm talking about though. ~whistles~ Well then, let's get to it! Oh and I must warn you, I was a BIT long winded today. Sorry in advance....but not really. ^_^ Today's seasonally appropriate title choice with equally festive cover is....
About the book....
What do you do when the man you pledged your life to breaks your heart and shatters your dreams? You pack your bags and travel the big, wide world to find your destiny—and your true love . . .
Ten years ago, a young and naïve Cassie married her first serious boyfriend, believing he would be with her forever. Now her marriage is in tatters and Cassie has no career or home of her own. Though she feels betrayed and confused, Cassie isn't giving up. She's going to take control of her life. But first she has to find out where she belongs . . . and who she wants to be.
Over the course of one year, Cassie leaves her sheltered life in rural Scotland to stay with her best friends living in the most glamorous cities in the world: New York, Paris, and London. Exchanging comfort food and mousy hair for a low-carb diet and a gorgeous new look, Cassie tries each city on for size as she searches for the life she's meant to have . . . and the man she's meant to love.
Honestly, this story has got to be one of my favorites for 2014. It has heart and heartbreak. It has a leading lady with strength untapped and beauty unknown that finds herself in a bad situation, struggling to find her way out but with a support system that while imperfect is there for her like no other. It has secret affections coursing just below the surface, waiting for the right moment, and it has desires explored in the purest of fashions. Speaking of fashion, it does indeed have fashion and globe hopping, new experiences and passions, promises of tomorrow and eventually a new personalized happily ever after discovered. I mean there is SO MUCH going for it!
Cassie is a wonderful lead. She's open and caring, realistic in her actions and reactions, a true friend and in the beginning a lost soul you truly hurt for. I really just wanted to reach through the pages, sit her down with a hot chocolate in one hand and a puppy beside her to tell her everything would be alright. The nerve of her husband! I mean really, what a louse. No, I'm not over reacting...though if you think so, you might be besties with Anouk (something we'll get into in a moment). Finding herself in an impossible situation sets off a chain of events that will lead her on a journey of self discovery like no other. In the end, she'll be better for it, but along the way, things are bound to get tough now and again....good thing she has GREAT friends to count on.
The plotted plan of reinvention finds Cassie in New York, Paris, and London; pretty much as far from home as possible to discover what she wants to do (and where she wants to be) with her new found life. A hard step for someone that had her wagon hitched to the man of her dreams for TEN YEARS only to have her world shook, rattled, and rolled. The hats she tries on vary as do the friendships made and fellows bedded (okay, so there's really only one maybe two, but it worked for the sentence, so go with it). Along the way, she laughs, cries, celebrates, and you're right there with her. Every step of the way, you feel like more than an outsider looking in; you feel like one of the girls in her close circle of friends...a fact I must thank the author for. (THANK YOU!)
As for the full cast of characters, all I can say is that everyone she meets has something to add to the story and HER story, much like the fabled stone soup. Her close friends add a great deal of excitement as some try to make her over in their own image and others simply let her be. Kelly had her walking a mile a minute in towering heels of terror and rubbing elbows with the fashion world's higher echelon. Anouk let her live her Hepburn fashion fantasy while grinding her beauty regiment to the bone. Suzy allowed her to catch her breath after yet another fairly earth shattering situation while helping her connect with the memories of yesteryear and the promise of tomorrow. Together they form a formidable team and can move mountains. Time will show they are not perfection in motion, but they are a perfect fit for Cassie.
Outside of her gal pals, she forms many other bonds. Some stick, some smolder, and some are discovered after many ups, downs, and all arounds. Bas in New York is definitely a keeper, and not just for his hair styling abilities and fashion sense. Luke was...a pretty face with a less-than-unfortunate body, but proved himself to be something other than what he seems (which to me was genuine at the time, but hey...I apparently fall flat on my face the same as Cassie at times). Claude in Paris was an interesting match but probably one of the deeper ones despite its final outcome. In London, well there's really only one to list, Suzy's brother Henry, but he's more of a fixture throughout than in just one city. Let me put it this way...regardless of his obligations or alliances, you'll always wonder if there might be something more beneath the surface. I'll leave it at that....and that I ADORED his lists! So cute! (~melts~)
In the end, if you haven't drawn the proper conclusion about my experience, let me spell it out for you...I LOVED IT! Though I'm not one to necessarily want to head over to Tiffany's for a shopping spree, I'd gladly go for the sake of the book and the situations that happen in its wake. Despite the heartbreak we begin with and experience off and on throughout the story, the sweetness carries a weight of its own much greater. It takes the form of girlfriends and friendships, love and companionship, exploration and ideas, and in the end, speaks to truly finding and following a path that suits you and no one else. Now, who couldn't use a reminder like that? (Or a fella like.... ^_^)
Recommended read for Contemporary Romance, Women's Fiction, and Fiction fans, from older teens through adults; some content is a bit more blush-worthy than the younger set really needs. The only thing I can see that might limit the audience at first glance is the size. It's a chunkster at 592 pages....yes, catch your breath...it'll be okay. I myself am not scared of BIG books, as long as they sound good and this one certainly did (and WAS! It REALLY was!), but I can see some holding off because of it. Was it necessary? To tell Cassie's story as well as that of her friends, yes...it really was. I do think that it could have easily been broken down into three books, the first telling of her break and travel to New York, the second Paris, and the third London as well as the ending....but I personally am okay with it as I'd rather not have had to wait to find out what happened next.
ARC for review received courtesy of the great team at William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. (THANKS!) This title is available now, so be on the lookout for it on a bookstore shelf or virtual retailer of your choosing.
Until next time....happy reading!