Author: Amanda Radley
Romance is in the air on this detour to love.
High-flying executive Celia Scott is on her way to Tokyo to accept a prestigious award heavy with emotional baggage. She’ll make the trip, but she doesn’t have to like it, and she certainly doesn’t have to make nice with a stranger on a plane.
Artist Lily Andersen is excited to finally meet her online crush, the only person in the world who truly gets her. She just needs to survive the eleven-hour flight from London to Japan with a testy seatmate who by turns annoys and fascinates her.
Fate, upgrades, and a troupe of travelling clowns bring them together for a journey memorable for all the wrong reasons. Not only do they have nothing in common, they really can’t stand each other. But people are not always as they seem, and Celia and Lily are about to realise, there’s more than one path to love.
A simple yet heart-warming slow burn romance story with some deeper looks at some deeper topics, such as suicide and homophobia, which are both discussed. This is my first Amanda Radley novel and it won’t be my last as this was very enjoyable novel. It is a great story of strangers to friends to lovers with a genuine progression that is very believable and heart-warming.
Two characters meet at the airport randomly and it is very apparent that they are polar opposites. First, we have Celia, who is on her way to Tokyo to accept an award that she did not want, for her obtaining a large account at her insurance firm. She is an older, her exact age is later revealed to be 51, but she is described as older and more sophisticated early on. She is used to her first class treatment and seating that she always gets and is upset and sour when she learns that she has been bumped from her first class ticket due to a plane change and must be assigned to a seat in business class. Our other character, who happens to be Celia’s seatmate, is Lily, a 25 year old illustrator for children’s novels. She is originally ecstatic to learn that she can upgrade to business class from her economy seat for an extremely low rate, but is unsure she made the right choice when she learns her seatmate is sour Celia. However, Lily still remains excited for her first trip to Tokyo as she finally gets to meet Asami in person. Asami and Lily have been pen pals and Lily is hoping that the closeness that she feels with their online connection can translate to the real world.
The plane needs to make an emergency landing due to an issue with the plane, which lead the passengers to be temporarily stranding in Denmark. Celia initially takes this as a sign to head back to the UK, but later decides to stick it out and continue the journey. However, she is without a hotel as she told the airline she was not going to Tokyo anymore. Luckily, Lily has family in Denmark who she planned to stay with during this unexpected layover and Celia ends up tagging along. While at Lily’s grandmother’s house, we learn that her family has not been very accepting of the fact that Lily is a lesbian and they have a hard time comprehending that this is not a phase. Celia helps Lily with the visit as best she can, given that they are still semi-strangers. Later on, the two of them continue on their journey to Tokyo together as acquaintances.
Their friendship grows little by little as Celia helps Lily out of some jams and Lily in turn helps out Celia. There is an attraction there and Lily is more forthcoming about her want to be with Celia whereas Celia is attracted to Lily, but it is not clear throughout how Celia feels until much later in the story. The two of them bond over Celia’s family and background, where we learn a lot about why Celia does not want to accept the award. We also get to learn more about Lily through their growing friendship. They do not have a lot in common and had tons of moments where they bicker and need to come to an understanding to move forward. The writing made this aspect feel very natural as their relationship was not perfect. They were complete strangers when they met and they had to work to get to know the other, including the nuances for each that the other might not fully understand.
The two characters bring out the best in each other, but also keep the other in check. Celia and Lily both have an excellent emotional connection and I like that they start their relationship emotionally rather than jumping into the physical, even though they do feel that physical attraction for the other. I was surprised at how in depth this novel goes for the character growth as I did not expect it based on the synopsis alone. I went into this novel thinking that it was going to be a little shallower and not go into as many emotions as the book set out to accomplish. It was an excellent surprise and, even though, the book does not have a super involved plot, the character development is what shines.
Overall, this is very nice easy read for the writing alone as you can read through it fairly quickly without too many pieces to complicate the plot. Each character goes through their own development while assisting the other and they become each other’s emotional support. Their relationship seemed very genuine and I loved reading about how their bond grew from start to finish. The two of them were ones that you found yourself routing for and their banter is very entertaining. This novel was a great read and I would definitely add more by this author to my TBR list.
**I give a special thank you to Netgalley, Bold Strokes Books, and the author, Amanda Radley, for the ARC to read and review. The opinions expressed are completely my own. **