Thursday 11 April 2013

Review: The Valentines Card, Juliet Ashton

The Valentine's card was meant to be Orla's fairy tale ending, but really, it was only the beginning . . .

Orla adores her actor boyfriend, Sim, who's away filming a sumptuous costume drama. Although the long-distance relationship means that she can eat toast for dinner and watch as much reality TV as she likes, she misses him like crazy.

But Valentine's Day changes everything . . . The same morning Orla learns that Sim has died, she receives a card from him. As Orla travels from Ireland to London, to live and breathe Sim's final moments, can she bring herself to open the Valentine's card and read his final message?

Review: I love the fact that this book was released for valentines day and was called The Valentines Card, an author who wasn't afraid to state the obvious! I wasn't so sure how the death of Sim would be handled, but this came up pretty quickly during the opening moments of the book and so it didn't cause too much drama. My worries that a book about valentines day was actually going to turn into a book where the main event is the death of a loved one were quickly quelled and I was ready to get on and enjoy the story!

The structure of this book worked really well. Most chapters started with an extract from Sim's journal, giving some insight into his feelings about Orla or his acting career at that time. These journal extracts each fitted exactly what was going on in each chapter and I think that they worked really well because they meant that we had an extra bit of information about what Sim was thinking and feeling, that Orla didn't.

Orla is a very strong female character in this book. I think the fact that she is Irish only adds to her feistiness and fearlessness. At the start of the book, when she is dealing with the death of her boyfriend and when she travels to London to seek out his journal. He weak moments and irrational fears can be a little irritating, but the character develops and grows, as one would in a situation like this, and Orla becomes very likeable as the book progresses.

There are a host of wonderful supporting characters in the book. Although Sim is speaking from the grave, so to speak, we get to know that he is a typical drama queen who is pretty selfish, but someone who loved Orla very much. When Orla travels to London, she meets Maud who was Sim's landlady. She becomes like a mother figure to maud and her involvement in the book is vital to the development of the storyline and to Orla's recovering from bereavement.

There were some very funny moments in the book, even if some were completely implausible. I really liked the times when we see Orla at work. Because she is a teacher, there was a lot of scope for humour in her work, and whilst there are indeed some funny classroom moments, I would have liked to see some more. I know from experience that every singe day working as a teacher brings humour that other people experience in their own work places once in a blue moon!

Despite there being death in this book, it's definitely not a weepy story. I found myself gasping as the story unravelled at certain points, as well as willing romances to take place. The author has done a very good job at creating a very well rounded novel, with all the features a reader might expect from this genre. I think that fans of this genre will not be disappointed, I certainly found it to be a very engaging and enjoyable tale!

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