Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Guest Review: The Birthday That Changed Everything by Debbie Johnson

She wanted a birthday surprise, just not the one she got…
The last thing Sally Summers expected from her husband on her special day was that he’d leave her for a Latvian lap dancer half her age. So with her world in tatters, Sally jets off to Turkey for some sun, sea and sanctuary.
The Blue Bay resort brings new friends and the perfect balm for Sally’s broken heart in gorgeous Dubliner James. He’s just the birthday present she needs. And when the chemistry between them continues to spark as the holiday ends, Sally wonders if this is more than just a summer fling.

But James has scars of his own and Sally isn’t quite ready to turn her back on her marriage. This birthday might have changed everything, but what will the next one bring?



This has to be one of the funniest books I have ever read.  It had its serious moments, but in the main had me laughing inside as well as out loud at times. There was, however, some strong language and hot sex, so some people might not find it quite so funny.

The lady with the birthday of the title is Sally Summers. We actually see her through 4 birthdays in all during the course of the novel. We first meet her as she wonders what her plastic surgeon husband, Simon, is going to give her for her 40th birthday. In fact what he gives her is a very unwelcome surprise as he announces that he is leaving her for a much younger woman, who is, in fact, a stripper. Once she has recovered slightly, Sally decides to pack her case and go off on a luxury holiday to Turkey courtesy of Simon's credit card. Accompanying her are her teenage children, Lucy and Ollie. While on holiday, Sally meets an interesting mix of people, a group of whom meet up there every year. They welcome her family into their group, and they party for the next fortnight. Each of this new group has their own tale to tell, which emerges as the story unfolds and they return to the hotel in Turkey on subsequent years.

I found the characters in the story strong and mostly, with the possible exception of Sally's husband, likeable. Sally's children are very different; while Ollie is no trouble at all, Lucy is most definitely the teenager from Hell and a source of great humour within the story. She treats her mother, brother and father outrageously. Sally, however, deals with her outbursts with great patience, despite the embarrassment they cause her. Although cringing at some of the things she comes out with, it was difficult not to warm to Lucy; you could see the decent person underneath waiting to emerge. The other main character out of the group of friends is James, practically a single dad, as his wife takes little interest in their young son who is on holiday with him.

I would highly recommend this story to anyone who fancies a bit of comedy and romance rolled into one. It had me laughing out loud several times, which probably got me a few funny looks if I happened to be reading in a coffee shop. There were also some serious and sad parts as well, as happens in real life, but overall this is a very, very funny story, extremely well told.

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