True Love at the Lonely Hearts Bookshop by Annie Darling
Title: True Love at the Lonely Hearts Bookshop
Author: Annie Darling
Series: Lonely Hearts Bookshop
Pages: 416 
Genre(s): Contemporary, UK
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Verity Love – Jane Austen fangirl and an introvert in a world of extroverts – is perfectly happy on her own (thank you very much), and her fictional boyfriend Peter is very useful for getting her out of unwanted social events. But when a case of mistaken identity forces her to introduce a perfect stranger as her boyfriend, Verity’s life suddenly becomes much more complicated.

Johnny could also use a fictional girlfriend. Against Verity’s better judgement, he persuades her to partner up for a summer season of weddings, big number birthdays and garden parties, with just one promise - not to fall in love with each other…

This isn’t my usual romance novel as I don’t tend to read contemporary romances set in the UK - too close to home and too hard to disappear into a fantasy world that way. I’ll admit that it did take me a while to get into the book, but once it got going, I was hooked. It was smart, rich and, at times laugh out loud funny. And perhaps because it was set in the UK, I felt a connection with the story and the characters.

Verity was a very real character and a true introvert. I loved how she owned her quirks and foibles and, without sounding like a sap, I really admired her, identified with her and looked up to her, despite her ‘flaws’. I could feel her pain and was 100% with her when she wanted to punch Marissa and her friends. I did too - so very much. It was nice to read about someone who went through the same problems as normal people and came out the other side - not unscathed - but still happy.

Much like Very, we didn’t get any insight into Johnny’s feelings as the story was told purely from her point of view. I think I ended up being just as frustrated as she was by not knowing what was going on in that daft, gorgeous head of his. He took a bit too long to stop being foolish but it was annoying realistic in that sense.

This book was definitely a slow burner. I loved how the progression of Very and Johnny’s friendship almost meandered along although there were significant milestones that were so small but so huge at the same time. It was lovely to watch the pair. And frustrating at times, too!

I normally prefer my romance books with a decent amount of sex in them. This didn’t have that and honestly, it didn’t need it. No, really - I didn’t miss it.

There were little Jane Austen quotes and titbits littered in the book which were fun to read. And the ending…I think I might have swooned. *Sigh* Definitely a re-readable moment.

I finished the book last night and I still find myself reaching for my kindle to read more about the lives of Very and Johnny. Because it took me about a week to finish the book - and also through the skill of the author in bringing the characters to life and making them feel like very real people - I feel like I know them and I’m going to miss them!

This book was a surprise to me. As I mentioned, it’s not my usual type of book but true love and bookshops? - I just couldn’t resist - and I’m so glad that I didn’t. The only reason for not giving this book the full 5 stars was because it took me quite a while to get into it (and only when I did did I realise it was set in London rather than a cute little village somewhere!). There was a lot of detail throughout the book but in the first few chapters I just wanted Very and Johnny to meet (and meet again) and get the love story started! The other reason is that I could have done with a bit more grovelling from Johnny at the end. It wouldn’t have worked with the way the story played out but I still wanted it.

I’m now off in search of Posy’s story (The Little Bookshop of Lonely Hearts) and (hopefully) any future stories with this same set of friends. The level of detail and richness of their stories means I must have more in my life! Add to that, I really found this story up-lifting. Even if this isn’t your usual sort of romance, I would recommend this book to you. Give it a shot - I know you won’t be disappointed. 4 stars.


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* I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. *

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