Book Reviews: ‘We Were on a Break’ & ‘Royal Holiday’

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We Were on a Break – by Lindsey Kelk

Okay, so Lindsey Kelk has been a favourite author of mine for a while now. I just love her witty, fun and utterly creative writing style that’s thoroughly laced with pop-culture references and such a natural flow of humor and relatable descriptions. It’s always a lighthearted, entertaining experience reading her books – not that I’ve read them all, but my first book of hers was from her ‘I Heart’ series: ‘I Heart New York‘ , which I read many years ago.

Indeed, she is a chick-lit queen in my opinion, although I do notice she often paints a self-deprecating picture of the female protagonist and, in comparison, elevates another prominent female character who is often described as more attractive in some form, which I find a bit unnecessary and annoying at times. That trend was apparent in this ‘We Were on a Break’ book of hers, for example, but despite that I totally enjoyed the read overall, as usual.

This novel is about a couple who, after reaching a serious stage of their relationship, decide they need to take a break from each other and figure out whether they truly are meant to be.

Some of the quotes and descriptions I liked and noted from the book:

  •  “I imagine nothing other than dinner with Kanye is quite that depressing if you’re Beyoncé, but for the rest of us, the last day of a holiday is right up there with doing your taxes, getting a bikini wax and that time you went to the fridge for your favourite bar of chocolate and found out someone had already eaten it.” – page 1
  • “the whole evening had been a complete waste of make-up” – page 18
  • “Abi’s face was a picture of empathy with just a hint of homicide in her eyes” – page 109
  • “Not that it was a competition. Except for when it was.” – page 180
  • “the inescapable something that sparked between us” – page 254
  • “Like most planks of wood, it had very little to say but my imagination was ready to fill in the blanks” – page 275
  • “he turned just in time to see me shovel an entire Hobnob into my mouth” – page 285
  • “He looked over in my direction and I felt as though I’d been pinned to the wall. Without moving any other part of his body, he raised a hand and reeled me in.” – page 296
  • “refusing to let the tears that prickled at the back of my eyes fall in front of everyone” – page not noted
  • “I chewed on a smile, trying not to look too happy” – page not noted
  • “all the fear melted away and all that was left was relief” – page 399
  • “I laughed, the sound bubbling up out of me like a language I didn’t know I knew” – page 401
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I had the delight of meeting Lindsey Kelk at an event in London a few years ago, where she signed a copy of what was then her ‘new’ novel, which I was gifted at the event! I’ll share a bit more about that experience in a separate post…

Royal Holiday – by Jasmine Guillory

I was excited to recently discover this author due to our somewhat similar backgrounds, and the praise I saw she had received in O – The Oprah Magazine, Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine book club and other notable media outlets. As a romance novelist, Jasmine Guillory falls under the “chick literature” category like Lindsey Kelk.

It took me a while to warm up to Royal Holiday at first…it seemed slow at picking up the pace and it certainly didn’t grab me like We Were on a Break did from the first page. Perhaps that was down to the fact that I had just finished that more bubbly and youthful book of Lindsey’s, and I may’ve needed to adjust to Jasmine’s different writing style.

However, once I got into the book I realized it was a beautiful, heartwarming love story with a mature and classy flare. It brought back visuals from Harry and Meghan’s Royal Wedding, which I recall streaming online – cuppa’ tea at hand – with my friend Andrea who lived next door to me in my postgraduate student residence in London, Goodenough College.

The protagonists Vivian and Malcolm are both over 50 with rather reserved demeanors, and it’s a lovely story that shows cupid can catch you by surprise at any age, that love can overcome the challenge of long distance, and that it’s never too late for some steamy, spicy, flirty fun. It also sheds light on the beautiful bond that can exist between a mother and her adult daughter, as well as American vs British humour and colloquialisms which are interwoven throughout the text – adding an interesting cultural touch for those who may not be familiar with the traditions or nuances of each country.

Some of the quotes and descriptions I liked and noted from the book:

  • “He really did have an incredible voice. It wasn’t just the accent, though that was great, too. It was something about the timbre of his voice: low, but not too deep; warm and soothing, like drinking a cup of hot chocolate with a shot of whiskey.” – page 124
  • “Ah. He did it so she’d smile at him again. He must have lost his mind. A fifty-two-year-old man and he was acting like a teenager with a crush.” – page 28
  • “His big, warm hand enveloped hers and shook firmly, but not for too long. She sent up a tiny thank-you that she’d put a bra and lipstick on before coming downstairs.” – page 16
  • Vivian swatted her out of the room – page 145
  • She looked down, but then looked up straight into his eyes, the smile still hovering around her lips – page 53
  • She put the hood of her coat up against the gentle rain, slid her arm into Malcolm’s, and smiled at the world – page 172

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*****

Added Comments Overall

  • When I read Lindsey’s book it was the first time I had read a novel in a while; and with regards to both of these books, it was also the first time I read novels while thinking like a writer – paying close attention to the writer’s style, descriptions, tense, point of view etc. It was interesting assessing the way in which Lindsey wrote in the present tense while Jasmine wrote in the past tense, and how they alternated between the male and female protagonists’ points of view.
  • I enjoyed reading the often funny thoughts running through the characters’ heads in both books as well. Lindsey in particular often makes me chuckle – sometimes mentally, sometimes literally – with her vivid streams of consciousness.
  • Random point if of interest: Lindsey Kelk is British, Jasmine Guillory is American and both of these novels are set primarily in the UK
  • I find romance novels fun and often exciting to read, particularly if I’m not dealing with love life heartache myself; but after a while I find the storylines can become a bit ‘same old same old’ , cheesy or excessively sappy, so I usually feel the need to switch it up a bit. I don’t think I could read an endless list of back-to-back lovey-dovey chick lit books without at least mixing it up with other genres in between.

 

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