Review of Change of Heart by Clare Lydon
I’ve said this before but when you pick up a book by Clare Lydon you know that you are going to get a well-written, good quality story, no matter what the plot is about. When you read 100+ books per year like me, it’s a huge relief and a treat. So, despite that my pile of books to review is touching the ceiling, I’ve dumped the rest to read it.
It’s hard to talk about this book without giving anything away so I’m not going to say much about the plot but if you are curious, read the book blurb because it’s very well written so it gives you an idea of what to expect without revealing anything. Here is my take anyway:
Erin Stewart doesn’t want to attend her parents’ anniversary weekend by herself so she hires a fake date to play the part. What Erin wasn’t expecting is that Steph would be so gorgeous and supportive when Erin’s family drama unravels with dire consequences for everyone…
Clare Lydon is well known as the queen of (lesbian) British romantic comedies and after reading most of her work I thought I knew what to expect from her books but I have to admit that this one surprised me… This is not her usual feel-good rom-com… There are funny parts, for sure, but expect to be grabbed into a whirlwind of drama that will make you dizzy only to eventually shove you out of its vortex into a minefield of different feelings. The drama will put a lump on your throat, the romance will make it better, but the hangover of the emotional turmoil will stay with you for a while.
Fake romances are one of my favourite tropes and there are multiple ways to present them in stories. I liked the “hire a fake date” idea of a professional actress pretending to be Erin’s date. I’ve seen it in books before but here it sounds totally plausible. I enjoyed the way the author slowly blurs the lines between strictly professional to dangerously flirting. Romance lovers will love that and the first kiss captures the shift perfectly.
Normally Ms. Lydon sets her books in London but this time she chose the Scottish Highlands only without their usual gloomy weather (although there is a funny rain scene). I usually follow the Lesbians who Write podcast (co-presented with TB Markinson) and she’s been talking about a recent summer trip she took to the Highlands so I’m glad to see it reflected in her work, it’s a beautiful part of the world that deserves to be featured as such. Her description of the landscape is very photographic and made me wish I was there.
I’m normally not a fan of drama in my books (there’s enough of that in the real world) but I felt that it was handled really well here. The characters felt authentically British in their way to deal with their emotions, stiff upper lip and a cup of tea included. Knowing the Brits so well, they sounded realistic and natural to me. All the characters in this book from secondary to mains are very well fleshed out but, of course, the mains steal the show. They are both lovely and the reader cannot help but root for their relationship to succeed.
Can I also add that the choice of title is fantastic? If you read it, you’ll know why. I can’t wait for the audiobook to be out to hear the delicious Scottish lilt. 5 stars.
ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.