Author: Freya Kennedy
Jo Campbell is perfectly content in a perfectly structured life.
Nothing ever changes in Jo’s life, and she likes it that way.
Or at least, she tells herself she does.
Most of the time, she manages to push down the tiny voice that tells her to chase her dream and maybe, just maybe, open her battered and bruised heart up to love.
But to chase her dreams she needs to take chances that are way out of her comfort zone and learn to not put other people’s happiness above her own.
Most of all she has to learn to trust her heart, which may just be the biggest challenge of all.
Although I began reading this book thinking it would follow the romance route, it actually turned into a novel about a lot more as romance wasn’t even the main element. There are technically multiple love interests for our heroine, but it’s not the central part of the story. Instead this story is about pursuing your dreams and to believe in yourself even when there are a million doubts in your mind. Additionally, there is no substitute for surrounding yourself with a network of support (friends, family, neighbors, partner, etc.)
Jo Campbell has lived her life the best she knows how. She believes she has done everything right and she is happy, however, what happens if she wants more out of life than what she currently has? She begins to wonder if co-owning the pub with her brother is enough as her true dream is to be a writer. Unfortunately, Jo, like many characters and people can relate to, has a lot of self-doubt and wonders if she should continue to pursue that dream when she fears that she might fail. This was an extremely relatable trait as many people, me included, have experienced this at one time or another with anything from a career path to any other decision. There is always the fear of the unknown and of rejection that’s very difficult to overcome in some cases.
Jo puts her family first as she helps to raise her adopted younger sister, who is going through the process of understanding her place in her new family. Those close to her seem to have their life together and that sparks a newfound motivation for Jo to begin finding out what would make her happy. Although she would love to have a romantic partner, her main dream is to publish a novel and have them displayed like all the other authors she admires.
There are elements in this novel that reminded me of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, although, this is not an adaption. The writing aspect also connected to the novel By the Book for me as well (if you’ve read it, then you know why I made the connection).
The story overall had great flow as Jo grows as a character and becomes generally more confident in herself. I loved her network of friends and family that were there to support her and any decision, whether good or bad, that she made. The novel gives great insight into the community of a smaller town and how everyone comes together when it counts. Each character played their role with enough background to comprehend each piece of the storyline. They were all generally likable and relatable in one way or another.
Overall, the novel is predictable in many ways, but it is well-written enough that it’s not a negative. I would honestly read the novel our main character writes as it sounded fairly interesting. The scenery is a great escape and as a huge fan of Derry Girls, it was also very easy to picture in my head (if that mural actually exists, then I seriously want to visit it). Lorcan is the James as he may be English, but like the show, he is an honorary member of the Derry community! The novel is both light-hearted and heart-warming with great imagery and characters. I would highly recommend this novel and would easily read any other work by this author.
**Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC to read. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.**