Friday 26 September 2014

Review ~ The Beginner's Guide to the Birds and the Bees by Sophie Hart.

Title: The Beginner's Guide to the Birds and the Bees.
Author: Sophie Hart.
Publisher: Bookouture.
Genre: Women's Fiction.
Publication Date: September 19, 2014.
Source: Netgalley.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Purchase: Amazon UK

Let’s talk about sex… would you share your bedroom secrets if it meant saving your marriage?

A refreshingly open and uplifting romantic comedy about friendship, love and sex. Sometimes you need to step out of your comfort zone in order to give a relationship a good dose of TLC…

Sex therapist Annie Hall helps couples put the fizz back into their relationships. It’s a shame her own love life is non-existent. When Jamie who works next door catches her eye, she can’t ignore the spark of chemistry.

Most men would jump at the chance to skive off work for an afternoon quickie with their gorgeous wife but Nick knows Julia is after only one thing – a baby. Sex shouldn’t be a chore. Can Annie help Julia see that?

Newly engaged Zoe and Simon can’t keep their hands off each other. They’ve decided to take a vow of celibacy until their wedding night. Will Annie help them stick to it?

Roy and Linda have been married for over thirty years but she’s more interested in the family business than getting intimate with him. Can Annie convince Linda to rediscover her passion for Roy after all this time?

While Annie begins to work her magic with the three couples, she soon finds herself falling for Jamie. But she’s been hurt before – will he be different? It’s time for Annie to take some of her own advice and learn a few life lessons of her own…

The Beginner’s Guide to the Birds and the Bees was a charming, feel-good novel and one which stood out to me as being as little different to a lot of women’s fiction books around at the moment. It was packed full of friendship, romance and was simply a really warm read – the equivalent of an uplifting day spent catching up with old friends with lots of laughs and smiles.

Annie Hall is a sex therapist, which unlike what the name might suggest, doesn’t mean she goes around showing couples how things work in the bedroom department… Rather, Annie was just a caring, very likeable character, hopeful and eager to help her clients on the way to their own happy endings. Annie is long-term single after a bad relationship and so on surface is maybe not the best person to help couples get their relationships back on track, but she was so positive and full of patience and advice, she felt like the perfect person to turn to. Early on, we’re introduced to the three latest couples who are enlisting Annie’s help – Nick and Julia, Ray and Linda and Zoe and Simon. Even though we’re then brought four individual stories throughout the book, it was never hard to keep up. Sophie effortlessly switched between each couple’s stories, and Annie’s story, and then when they did combine, the novel hit its heart-warming best.

I loved each individual couple and how different they all were – whether that was due to age, ambition or personalities, the book had a great mix of characters and seeing them all connect with each other at the group therapy sessions was really interesting to read. Nick and Julia have been trying unsuccessfully for a baby – and I couldn’t help but feel for Nick at the beginning and his frustration with Julia only seeing him as an object to help her conceive. Although as the book went on, I did grow to understand Julia a lot more and I liked seeing her friendships grow and help her as a person. Ray and Linda were a couple in their late fifties, missing the intimacy and closeness in their relationship and struggling to spend much time with each other too. I adored Ray – he was so obviously in love with Linda and I just wanted them to put time aside to see each other and re-connect and live out the rest of their lives happy. This book did turn me hopelessly optimistic and soppy, I’ll admit. Zoe and Simon wanted a sex therapist for a very different reason – in their twenties and completely in love (and all over each other too), they took a vow of celibacy until their wedding night and were eager to make that night the most special of all… Zoe and Simon were my favourite couple – they were just so happy and in love, it was endearing to read.

What I loved the most about each couple here, and Annie’s motives towards them too, was that it felt impossible to not want the best for them all. Annie definitely turned me into a true fan of happy-endings and that was all I wanted for the outcome of this book. I wanted Annie to get her happy ever after too and once she started to see the lovely Jamie in a different light, I was fascinated with how things might work out.

The Beginner’s Guide to the Birds and the Bees was a really easy to read, pleasant story – I can’t fault it for that. I loved the quotes which started off each chapter, I thought they added a special touch to the novel and set the tone for what was to follow. However, I did think this book was missing a little sparkle and a little something to really bring it to life and make it shine. I find it difficult to review in that aspect because I really can’t find anything to criticise but I had expected to love it even more than I did. But even saying that, I really did adore Sophie’s writing style. It was so full of heart and the stories in this book weren’t forced or over-the-top – it all felt natural and the manner of the book was just like chatting to your friends with a bit of gossip and lots of fun and more tender moments too. The Beginner’s Guide to the Birds and the Bees will ultimately put a smile on your face and leave it there for the remainder of the day, so I would definitely recommend it for all chick-lit fans.

Review also posted on Goodreads | Amazon UK

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