An uplifting, romantic story about friends, family and the relationships that make a place a home.
Haileybrook, a beautiful village in the peaceful Cotswolds countryside, is most people’s idea of heaven on earth.
Born and raised in this small slice of paradise, Elle Bea can’t wait to leave.
It should be easy, but every time she packs her bags for exotic adventures, old loves and loyalties pull her back.
Will Elle be forced to forget her dreams of far-flung places and epic romance, or can she grab one last chance to have it all?
Claire Huston lives in Warwickshire with her husband and two children. Her debut, Art and Soul, a heart-warming contemporary romance, was published in 2020. Elle’s A to Z of Love is her second novel.
A keen amateur baker, she enjoys making cakes, biscuits and brownies almost as much as eating them. You can find recipes for over a hundred sweet treats at clairehuston.co.uk. This is also where she talks about and reviews books.
In Elle’s A to Z of Love, the readers first meet the character during a meet cute in the library of her university. She receives a call from her hometown friend, Toby, whose family she is close to and has to make a sudden trip back home to a gorgeous small town in the Cotswold. As Elle stays in her hometown, she reconnects with the community. The story follows Elle’s life with its many ups and downs in career, friendships and love. There are three potential love interests in this story that all come about at different points in Elle’s life. The story takes place over four years from 2015 to 2019, which I loved as there was natural progression for the characters in their careers, friendships, and romance, so nothing felt too rushed.
Adam is a childhood crush of Elle’s and I loved seeing how this crush formed as it felt very realistic. Adam himself was a well-written character with a lot of flaws. I enjoyed his character as there seemed to be no surprises to me as a reader. Everything he said and did matched my thought process for him as a character. Next is Zach, who is the meet cute boy from university. He reconnects with Elle after finding her online and they exchange emails while he lives abroad. I loved the emails as not only were they adorable between the characters, but it was a great mechanism for the reader to catch up on everything happening with the characters without having to witness the entirety on the page. Finally, there is Toby, who may have more feelings for Elle than friends.
For me, I could not stand Toby Cooper and to me, he was a horrible person. He does a lot of things that I do not agree with and I could not stand his character. Since I loved Seth, his brother, Lucy, Seth’s romantic partner, and Mrs. Cooper, I tolerated his character. Unfortunately, it is difficult to go into detail about how I came to that conclusion without spoiling the story. I may be in the minority as most likely others will not see him negatively, but if his character was a real life person, I would avoid being around them at all costs. I do know a few other people that have read this novel and did not come to the same conclusion, so I would definitely recommend taking this opinion with a grain of salt and reading the novel to form your own conclusions.
Elle starts off as a person who lacks confidence in herself and experiences childhood bullying. She has a very loving relationship with her father, but a more complex one with her mother as she did not really want a child to raise. Overtime Elle will do anything for others, even if they go against her dreams and she ends up being taken advantage of on multiple occasions. This happens more times than I can count throughout the entire story by almost everyone, even those that were not outright discussed. Although Elle does experience some growth in this aspect, I wish that it was explored more in depth. I also wish that Elle had more conversations with those that hurt her along the way. There are some, but there are a lot more that should have apologized for their behavior.
Overall, this was a very enjoyable story with a natural and realistic progression of events. The title is extremely fitting for the story and I loved how it ties into the novel. Elle’s desire to get out and see the world away from her small town was very relatable. There are a lot of responsibilities and people to keep her tied to staying home and adventure might not be possible, but she continues to dream in hopes that it will happen one day. The writing was well-done and made a nice easy read. Even though I personally could not stand some of the characters, they were still well-written. The story kept me interested for the entire novel and as this is a new-to-me author, I am definitely curious to try out more of her novels!
**I give a special thank you to Rachel @rararesources and the publisher, Goldcrest Books International Ltd for the opportunity to participate with this enjoyable novel. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.**