Thursday, 19 November 2015

Conditional Love - Cathy Bramley

About the book...

What surprises might life have in store for you?

A takeaway, TV and tea with two sugars is about as exciting as it gets for thirty-something Sophie Stone. Sophie’s life is safe and predictable, which is just the way she likes it, thank you very much.

But when a mysterious benefactor leaves her an inheritance, Sophie has to accept that change is afoot. There is one big catch: in order to inherit, Sophie must agree to meet the father she has never seen.

Saying ‘yes’ means the chance to build her own dream home, but she’ll also have to face the past and hear some uncomfortable truths…

With interference from an evil boss, warring parents, an unreliable boyfriend and an architect who puts his foot in it every time he opens his mouth, will Sophie be able to build a future on her own terms - and maybe even find love along the way?

About the author...
After four years of flinging herself round the dance floors of Nottingham's nightspots, British author Cathy Bramley somehow managed to get an honours degree in business.

She then plunged herself into the corporate world of marketing, working on high-powered projects such as testing the firing range of SuperSoaker water guns and perfecting the weeing action of Tiny Tears until deciding in 1995 to set up her own marketing agency.

She now lives in an idyllic Nottinghamshire village with her husband, two daughters and a dog called Pearl.

My thoughts...
I was extremely honoured to be asked if I'd like to read this updated version of Conditional Love by Sarah Harwood at Transworld, Cathy Bramley's publishers as part of the blog tour in exchange for an honest review, something which I'm more than happy to do.

I have to say I'm a serious Cathy Bramley fan, everything I've read by her I've just loved. An afternoon spent wrapped in a comfy blanket with coffee, chocolate and one of Cathy's books is a perfect afternoon spent. She writes about characters that touch your heart, that could very well be your friends or neighbours.  Each and every storyline, could be true.  She manages to balance the serious and less likeable characters with fun, kind light-hearted ones that will have you smiling and   laughing out loud, yet at the same time they aren't just frivolous, some very serious topics are tackled along the way.  

Conditional Love is no exception, this was originally self published by Cathy before signing a contract with Transworld and updating it to the version we have now with the incredibly beautiful cover.  The beginning of this book really sets the tone for our leading lady Sophie, Valentines day should be all hearts and flowers but not for her - her boyfriend decides that this would be the day that instead of proposing he would dump her.  Nothing seems to run smoothly in Sophie's life - not at work, romantically or personally.  Her mother lives in Spain and she doesn't know her father.

Then totally out of the blue Sophie gets news that she is the beneficiary of a surprise inheritance, not an insignificant inheritance either but one tied up with conditions. She has inherited a house and a lump sum of money.  But, before it can become her home she must also satisfy another condition - one that is difficult and heart rending, a request made by her great aunt - a woman she never knew but a woman who feels she should stir up the hornets nest from beyond the grave. 

As a character you can't help but like Sophie, she may well be in her thirties but she isn't at all confident or mature for her years, she seems to be stuck in her early twenties, ditzy and a bit madcap. Nothing is ever simple or straight forward where she is concerned and  she seems to allow others to influence her, none more so than her mother who firmly pulls her strings from her home in Spain.  

There is one thing you can firmly rely on with a novel by Cathy Bramley though and that is as the story unfolds the characters will grow with it.   It's fair to say I muttered and goaded Sophie in the beginning to toughen up and fight back, she just seemed so weak and then slowly but surely I sat back and watched quietly as her resolve strengthened and she grew more confident. Taking baby steps to getting her life in order. 

This story demonstrates quite strongly that you have to take control of your own destiny but you don't have to do it alone. Your friends and family will support you along the way and sometimes they have to be cruel to be kind, a true friend like Sophie's flatmates Jess and Emma will tell you the truth.  It just might not always be what you want to hear but it is sometimes necessary.

Romance plays a big part in this novel as you would expect from the jacket.  Love really is blind as Sophie eventually realises when she has two potential suitors and she doesn't always pick the right one. Nick, the architect she employs is quiet, unassuming but adorable and then we have loud, over confident sometimes ex, sometimes not boyfriend Marc - ooh I disliked him from the off, he really was an arrogant, upstart.  I know who I was rooting for.  Why is it some people pick the bad ones and keep going back for more?  Such a realistic storyline, we've all got a friend or acquaintance that has done that.  No amount of advice will help, they have to make their own mistakes just as Sophie does. 

So if you are looking for a book with both strong main and sub characters, that will engage you so much you'll find yourself talking and muttering out loud to them then this is for you.  I really loved reading Conditional Love, losing myself in the plot.  Hurt, sadness and intrigue butted up to friendship, happiness and love.  Along with some sad, sensitive bits there's also lots of humour and laughter to keep you smiling throughout.  Yes, some people may say it's prescriptive to have a happy ever after but, it is what we all hope for and expect when we pick up a book with such a beautiful jacket written by one of the best contemporary authors on the market at the moment - so thank you Cathy for delivering another slice of heaven in the form of Conditional Love - just perfect. 

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