Monday, 6 July 2015

Summer Flings & Dancing Dreams - Sue Watson

About the book...
Dance like nobody’s watching. Love like you’ll never get hurt…
Laura Watkin’s heart isn’t broken, she’s just forgotten how to use it.

After years on her own, the highlight of single mum Laura’s week is watching Strictly Come Dancing with a glass of Pinot Grigio and a large helping of imagination.

With her daughter Sophie going travelling, Laura knows the time is right to do something for herself for a change. One disastrous Zumba class later and Laura ends up at the feet (literally) of gorgeous dance instructor Tony Hernandez.

A natural dancer and inspiring teacher, Tony rekindles in Laura a passion she inherited from her ballroom dancer father – and with it comes a dream… to make him proud.

But when Tony enters them to perform at the National Dance Festival, can Laura’s new-found confidence survive the test? And with a once-in-a-lifetime chance to learn Flamenco in Spain, could Laura truly learn to dance like nobody’s watching… and love like she’ll never get hurt?
A laugh-out-loud, uplifting comedy about finding the courage to be yourself, the importance of dreams, and learning to grab life by the glitter balls. 

About the author...
Sue Watson was a TV Producer with the BBC who combined motherhood and family life with a busy career. However, one day it dawned on Sue that Cosmo magazine may have been telling porkies about 'having it all,' and her life had become a slightly crazed juggling act. 

So after much soul searching (and comfort eating) Sue abandoned her TV career, bought a pink laptop and wrote a novel. 'Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes,' tells the story of Stella Weston, whose life is a constant struggle with a nasty boss at work, the weighing scales and being a mum, wife and daughter. 
Originally from Manchester, Sue now lives with her husband and teenage daughter in Worcestershire. When she's not toiling over her latest novel, Sue bakes (and eats) cake and enjoys very large tubs of Caramel Chew Chew ice cream all to herself while watching 'The Biggest Loser USA.' 

My thoughts...
Sue Watson is an author that brings a smile to my face, her writing bounces between energetic and thought provoking.  One minute I'm laughing until I'm crying, the next sitting reflecting and sometimes crying again - all in a good way of course.  

Summer Flings & Dancing Dreams is just brilliant, I loved every page.  It's a book about relationships between mothers and daughters, about living life for yourself, not through others, a book of self discovery with humour softening the edges.


It begins on Sophie's wedding day, or what would have been if she'd not just been jilted - They are both sitting in the churchyard reflecting on life, both feeling a bit of a failure and knowing they need to do something. Her mother, Laura is trying to comfort her, not really having the answers needed to soften the blow.    Sophie decides she's going to go travelling, wanting to escape the embarrassment of her failed relationship, Laura just wants a life - she's a single parent, stuck in a rut, working in her local supermarket, a job she hates but needs to help pay for the care home her mother lives in and an aborted wedding.


Sue drags you headlong into a story before you even get chance to take a breathe.  I don't think I have ever laughed out loud and literally choked trying to stop laughing as much as I did whilst reading certain scenes in this book - Laura unfortunately was the cause of most of it.  Her relationship with both her daughter and mother at times cause utter mayhem.  I've so many favourite moments - Laura's trip to a Zumba class, dragged along as a way of getting fit by her friend Carole. Her  often cringeworthy visits with her 'deaf' mother at the nursing home and hilarious, foot in the mouth moments caused by her Skype conversations with her daughter (only a mother's first conversation would be about knickers) when she was travelling are some of them.  Sue's descriptions are so vivid I could well have been with her in every scenario, particularly stood in the dance class with them and her description of Laura's moves convinced me Sue had been a fly on the wall when I tried Zumba - an exercise that requires a modicum of co-ordination - something neither Laura or I have.  


I loved how Sue portrayed the characters in particular the leading ladies.  We see each in turn slip into the role of both mother & child.  Each caring for and nudging each other on.  In the beginning Laura is stuck in the middle acting as parent to both her daughter and her own mother.  Sophie also taking on the role of parent, worrying about her mum and urging her to 'get a life' not quite being able to fully let go and live her own life because of worrying about her mother. Until she does, then...... well let's just say tables are turned and Sophie has a 'be careful what you wish for' moment or two.


After the one and only Zumba class Laura attends she finds herself dragged into a ballroom dancing class run by Tony.  He's spotted her moves and thinks she'd be perfect..... really is the only thought I had at this moment.  The music, the history - Laura grew up surrounded by dance as both parents were professional dancers and the fact that Tony was gay, therefore off limits, gives Laura confidence and security.  Her mouth kept saying no, but her feet and body said something else altogether. The music unlocking her inner self - Tony nurturing and pushing in equal measures, when dancing she became a different person.


I'm smiling just writing this review as I think back to how the characters evolved and grew in this book.  The dancing and Tony's friendship were a catalyst for Laura's growth - the ripples growing ever wider as her confidence grew.  Sue through Summer Flings & Dancing Dreams demonstrates it's never too late to learn and dreams aren't just for young people.  We each have to be there, to love and support our family and friends but should all live our own lives too - I'm inspired to find a dance class - the energy and fun just poured out of this story, if someone can just point me in the direction of the nearest Tony first!


Huge thanks to Kim and all the team at Bookouture for giving me the opportunity to read Sue Watson's latest offering - Sue I love you, you make me smile and I'm tapping my feet waiting for your next book - just one small thing - I missed the cake :)

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