Sunday 18 October 2015

Reviewed: Beneath the Moon and the Stars by Holly Martin

Beneath the Moon and the Stars was published by Carina on October 18, 2014.

Thanks to the publisher for auto-approving me for a Netgalley review copy.

Beneath the Moon and the Stars was so typically Holly Martin – there’s no wonder why the identity of Amelia Thorne was one of the worst kept bookish secrets. Not that Amelia being Holly Martin was a bad thing because the style of Holly’s writing is a joy to behold. More Holly Martin books are always a delight though I’m not sure she has time for many more since there’s always a new one on the horizon. Holly always writes stories based on very real, genuine characters with such a refreshing sense of honesty to their words and actions – which makes them so easy to enjoy because you can relate and giggle at some of the things that happen, knowing how true to life they are. How she combines the honesty and realism in her characters with stories that really, you often need to suspend your belief to read I’m not quite sure, but she does. Beneath the Moon and the Stars was witty and packed with so much charm and entertaining eccentricity. It’s a book that made me laugh out loud every few pages but just you try and explain what you’re laughing at without sounding like a loon – because some of the scenarios in this book were ridiculously fun. Magic mushrooms and chocolate fountains come to mind.

I’ll be honest and say that sometimes, I had to suspend my belief a bit too much here. I don’t mind it normally and it didn’t really impact how I took the book, except that sometimes I spent more time thinking how something wouldn’t possibly happen than sitting back and enjoying how it unfolded. With that being said, I couldn’t not like this book. I kept needing to pick it back up because I knew it was a book to lift my spirits and keep me entertained – this was mostly helped by a bunch of highly memorable characters.

Joy Cartier has a habit of moving, but this time she’s hoping it’s for good as she moves back close to her childhood home, to Bramble Hill, Britain’s Friendliest Village. If this is what you would call a friendly village then frankly there is no hope, because Joy’s neighbours in her new home were very mean and unwelcoming. There are four main men in this book and each one of them was extremely interesting to read about. Joy’s brother, Alex, who has looked after Joy ever since her parents died, was so lovely and kind and real that even though we didn’t hear from him that much, I always wanted us to be checking in on him and seeing he was getting the happy ending he had earned. Another character I loved was Casey, who also truly deserved his own happy ending. His supporting story in this book was very sweet and his friendship with Joy I found to be lots of fun to read. His brother, Zach, was a little different, seeming to always think with a certain body part that wasn’t his brain or his heart, but I couldn’t dislike him either.

Then there was Finn, the character that will have swept most readers off of their feet. Finn was grumpy, always blowing hot and cold (although semi-understandable from his past experiences), and very brooding – though I guess it was that side to him that made Finn appeal as it was easy to fall from him and be frustrated by him both at the same time. I liked Finn for how imperfect he was, how he made plenty of mistakes but always tried again. The chemistry between him and Joy made me feel almost like I was intruding by reading it – there was definitely a lot there! And I loved the dynamics in their relationship, if it could be called that. One thing I did find a bit hard to believe, especially for the first half or so of this book was how Finn and Joy always found themselves in the same place at the same time. I know that they were neighbours in a small village but still, it was starting to appear more like stalking to me how Finn was always there. Maybe I’m just a grump, I don’t know, but it felt a bit strange.

What did appeal to me about both Finn and Joy was how they were both so protective of each other and the people they cared about. My two favourite moments in this book both involved Joy, Finn and Finn’s niece, Lily, who was completely adorable. Those were the moments that had me feel a teensy bit emotional closely followed by some laughing and swooning. Lily seemed to be able to bring Finn and Joy together so easily (as well as their dogs…). Lily’s part in this book was just one of several little side stories. I was pleasantly surprised by how much content Holly put into this book and how nothing was forgotten – everything had the perfect level of development and there was always something going on – there was no lull in the narrative. As well as being a completely glorious and hilarious contemporary romance, Beneath the Moon and the Stars had much more going for it than that with threads of mystery being weaved throughout the plot. One of more intriguing parts to the mystery I didn’t predict at all. There’s so much character to everything Holly writes and something new was always brewing in this one. Bubbly and laugh-out-loud funny, this is another Holly Martin book that definitely shouldn’t pass you by – it’s feel-good fiction at its most entertaining best.

Brilliant fun

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