Title: The Chic Boutique On Baker Street
Author: Rachel Dove
Series: – –
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Available: April 21st
Amanda is making the idyllic escape to the countryside to find a new life. Ben is picking up the pieces of his life after his wife left. Could a chance encounter outside Amanda’s ‘chic boutique’ set them on the road to renewed happiness?
Shop owner Amanda leaves London behind for life in the country and find’s love with local vet Ben in this fun, addictive winner of the Prima Flirty Fiction competition.
Source: ARC from Mills and Boon via email
I so wanted to enjoy this book, after all it has plenty of things I usually love – a city girl moving to the country, a cosy village full of interfering old women, a hero who is a vet (meaning cute animals, yay!). And yet, I didn’t love this book. In fact there were times when I didn’t even like it that much.
Which is a shame, because some aspects of this book are exactly what I wanted them to be. The village is close-knit yet friendly, while the meddling bunch of old girls are great fun. On the whole this is an easy read that’s a bit predictable, but mostly good fun, however there were a few things that spoiled my enjoyment.
The beginning. We meet Amanda outside her shop just as she first meets Ben, who has a very strange and over the top reaction to her plans to open a crafty-upcycling store complete with coffee section at the front. Ben acts likes she’s the devil incarnate, come up to Yorkshire with her heathenish London ways, trying to destroy the heart of their village with… wool, knitting and sewing? It’s not like she’s opening a casino or planning to bulldoze the village for her upmarket hotel.
Anyway, as weird as that was, we then go back in time to find out why Amanda left London. Except the time line moves around in odd fits, back and forth, until she runs away. And that really irritated me. The way Amanda somehow uprooted her entire life in London, bought and set up a business overnight. Without a car. Oh, and turning off her phone so no one could contact her. Nor did she tell anyone where she went. Because Amanda’s nice and mature like that (and she does the phone trick again later, so clearly she grows and develops a lot across the book).
I’m also not the biggest fan of wandering pov that starts a paragraph with one character, then jumps from head to head along the way without warning. Add in the huge info-dump intro to each character as they first appear, and let’s just say this book and I did not get off to the best of starts.
It does improve, on the whole, though Ben and Amanda never seemed like a good couple to me. They never talk. Ever. Nor seem to actually want to spend time together unless forced. Communication issues play a big part in this book, but instead of being cute, it just underlined Amanda’s lack of maturity and Ben’s habit of jumping to the worst possible conclusion without any encouragement. I also found the Austen festival a bit odd, since Amanda says it’s perfect for Yorkshire (isn’t that the Brontes?) and it seems to be organised and put on overnight.
Overall, this book just didn’t work for me, mostly because of the writing style. Your own mileage may vary depending on how much patience you have for heroines behaving childishly and big old miscommunication in love plots. If you’re okay with those things and love a fresh start in the country type of tale, then give this a go. I hope you like it better than I did.
The Chic Boutique on Baker Street is out April 21st.
Visit Rachel Dove for more details.