Thursday, 21 February 2019

Spotlight and Review: It Started with A Note by Victoria Cooke

It Started With A Note by Victoria Cooke

One lost letter. A chance to change her life!
Superhero single mum Cath always puts other people first. But now that she’s seen her son safely off to university (phew!), life seems a little, well…empty.

So when Cath unexpectedly discovers some letters written by her great-grandfather during the First World War, she decides to take herself on an adventure to France to retrace his footsteps.

Cath expects to spend her holiday visiting famous battlefields and testing out her French phrase book. What she doesn’t anticipate is that her tour guide, the handsome Olivier, will be quite so charming! Soon Cath isn’t simply unearthing the stories of the past – she’s writing a brand new one of her own, which might end up taking her in a very unexpected direction…
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This is the second novel I have read by Ms Cooke within the past month and she's definitely become an author worthy of a 'must-read' tag.

When lady-luck shines down as an unexpectedly large work bonus for single mum, Cath, she can't decide what to do with her windfall. With her son at university, she has an almost empty nest...except for her hopeless layabout brother. It's a time in her life she should focus on herself and not put others first. With an interest in WW1 history, she's fascinated by the letters her great-grandfather sent to his wife and daughter and decides to head off to France to retrace his steps. With the funds to cover the trip, she's nervous and excited about what she'll uncover. Not anticipating the decision to venture abroad alone will change the direction of her own life.

Both Cath and Olivier are likeable and relatable as we get to know them better. Cath's apprehension about dealing with new situations really struck a chord with me. I could feel her anxiety when confronting something new and applauded her for overcoming what seemed to her as tricky issues. Likewise, Olivier is a good looking man who appears to have everything but the girl. Therefore, when his past is revealed, it's hard not to commend him for turning his life around.

Culturally, the protagonists' backgrounds are dissimilar, yet both have had their fair share of heartache. Their friendship begins with their mutual interest in WW1 history which helps to cement their tentative relationship. As time goes by, this slowly evolves into a romance and I liked it wasn't rushed, especially due to the setting and circumstances to which the pair meet. It's less predictable and the anticipation as Cath and Olivier gets closer is tantalising as the chemistry of attraction sizzles between them. The ending is far from unpredictable and ventures in a direction I didn't foresee.

The dialogue is fun, light and laugh-out-loud funny reflecting the overall feel of this page-turner. The author delivers content which kept my attention for the duration of the novel.

"I could be a poster girl for 'Agent Preventer', the lesser known underwear-brand-slash-birth-control guaranteed to put off even the most amorous of men."

Additionally, the narrative includes highly emotionally charged moments when dealing with the WW1 memories from this poignant time in history. The emotions shared by both Cath and Olivier are palpable and sobering for those of us who don't have such close links to stories of heroism and sacrifice from the past. To keep the atmosphere cheery and fun, some delightful secondary characters adding gossipy humour to the proceedings.

To sum up, an enlightening story with an insightful blend of WW1 history with a contemporary romance woven around it, creating a satisfying happy ever after.

***review copy generously received courtesy of HQ Digital via NetGalley***
Victoria Cooke grew up in the city of Manchester before crossing the Pennines in pursuit of her career in education. She now lives in Huddersfield with her husband and two young daughters and when she’s not at home writing by the fire with a cup of coffee in her hand, she loves working out in the gym and travelling. Victoria was first published at the tender age of eight by her classroom teacher who saw potential in a six-page story about an invisible man. Since then she’s always had a passion for reading and writing, undertaking several writers’ courses before completing her first romantic comedy novel, 'The Secret to Falling in Love,' in 2016. 

Cooke's third novel, Who Needs Men Anyway? became a digital bestseller in 2018.

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