Tuesday, 15 June 2021

And Now You’re Back - Jill Mansell

About the book… 

The most heart-warming novel you'll read this year ... from the Sunday Times bestselling author of IT STARTED WITH A SECRET

One magical winter's night in Venice, Didi fell in love. But it ended - and he left without even saying goodbye.

Now, thirteen years on, Shay Mason is back.

The old spark is still there, but Didi's determined to ignore it. As manager of a stunning Cotswolds hotel, she's happy at last, and soon to be married. Anyway, Shay isn't staying. He's made a promise to his father. He's going to keep it. And then he'll be gone.

But Shay's return stirs up long-forgotten emotions, and the scandal that led him to leave raises its head once again. It's time for buried secrets to come to light. And it seems that this was someone's intention all along . . .

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About the author… 

Jill Mansell is the author of over twenty Sunday Times bestsellers including The One You Really Want and Meet Me at Beachcomber Bay. Take a Chance on Me won the RNA’s Romantic Comedy Prize, and in 2015 the RNA presented Jill with an outstanding achievement award.

Jill’s personal favourite amongst her novels is Three Amazing Things About You, which is about cystic fibrosis and organ donation; to her great delight, many people have joined the organ donor register as a direct result of reading this novel.

Jill started writing fiction while working in the field of Clinical Neurophysiology in the NHS, but now writes full time. She lives in Bristol with her family.

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My thoughts…

I've always loved books by Jill Mansell - she's one of a stock few authors that I can rely on to give me a book that hits the spot every time. A feel good book that's not all hearts and flowers, there is always a deeper story to discover that will leaving me smiling.

We meet Didi and Shay as teenagers in Venice. Both there as guests, to celebrate friend Layla’s 18th birthday. A more romantic start to a book you couldn’t imagine. It’s the early hours of the morning, it’s snowing and Didi unable to sleep, goes out into the snow, finding herself in St Marks Square where she sees Shay building a snowman. They’re friends by association, from polar opposite backgrounds yet are drawn to each other, she helps him with the snowman, they end up playing in the snow, sharing a bottle of Prosecco and sharing a magical moment that kickstarts their short lived romance. A romance that was doomed from the start, Didi’s family are wealthy, owners of a luxury hotel, Shay only has his dad, a dad that lives the life of a criminal, in and out of jail - Shay has had to fend for himself, is hard working but not 100% trusted. An incident occurs and when his name is put in the frame as ‘like father like son’, their fledgling relationship crumbles.

Fast forward 13 years and Didi is now the manager of her parents hotel when she comes face to face with her past. Shay is back in town, his father’s seriously ill, his dying wish is to end his days in the home Shay grew up in. To say Didi is shocked to see him would be an understatement - she’s engaged to be married but her equilibrium is seriously rocked on its axis. She never expected to see him again and definitely not in her parents hotel! The chemistry is evident and as a reader you knew there would be more to this tale - the inner turmoil and obvious attraction leapt off the pages but I loved the fact that there was respect that life had moved on for both of them - oh but I crossed my fingers that they would reignite what was kindled in Venice.

As in any Jill Mansell book there is a plethora of characters that add depth to the story. In this case their stories don’t just add depth but are integral to the plot. Their stories beautifully stitched together and in enough detail too - Rosa, widowed mother of Didi’s best friend Layla was one of the most beautiful, kind hearted characters I’ve encountered in a long while. Her heart was breaking, yet she still found a place in it to show friendship, kindness and empathy to Red, Shay’s dad - a hardened criminal that despite being ill most other people would have shunned.

Then there was best friend Layla, Rosa’s daughter.  She was adorable, such a trusting, gorgeous character, I absolutely loved reading about her on line dating and budding romance.  However, I was shouting from the sidelines for her to see what was under her nose though. 

The virtual tango of Didi and Shay was at the heart of And Now You’re Back obviously, both honourable in their present lives, but clearly still attracted to each other, drawn like magnets, then repelling each other as life had moved on for both of them - after all, they’re no longer 18 and have their lives mapped out - their story pulled at my heart strings.  There had to be a way to come back together.  Their past and present colliding, had to be fate, secrets from the past are revealed that highlight you shouldn’t make assumptions - not everything or everyone is who they seem.

I loved how Jill counter balanced the more serious, sad parts with humour, romance and wit. Once again I finished a Jill Mansell book with a satisfied sigh, glad that almost everyone seemed to get their happy ending. This is a compelling read, for anybody who loves contemporary, romantic novels, with some serious elements to add depth and bones to the story. It's gentle enough for a quiet Saturday afternoon but with enough plot twists and surprises to keep the pages turning, you'll want to get to the bottom of the many inter woven stories.

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