"Tom doesn't need any more women in his life. He already has his hands full with his five year old daughter, an estranged wife who keeps blocking his efforts to get divorced and a mother who might be having an affair with the vicar. When Fran Mayhew turns up - years younger than him and with all the tact of a dinosaur with its backside on fire - she's just another tricky person to deal with.
And what's she doing in his remote part of Northumberland crawling around in graveyards anyway?
But soon Tom discovers that there's more to Miss Mayhew than meets the eye - and it's not just his heart he's in danger of losing."
This book is quite a large step away from what I normally read. I think it was the cover design that first drew me to it and then the description made it all the more appealing with the phrase “the tact of a dinosaur with its backside on fire” bringing a smile to my face and thoughts that this could be right up my alley for a change …. and it was.
The characters were excellent; a real mixed bag and totally believable - some of which I am sure I have come into contact with over the years although I won’t say which ones!
Tom - the main character and the one whose point of view the story is mostly told - is a single father who, from my perspective anyway, seems to be doing a pretty good job although he does have his faults (don’t we all) but who is trying to hold everything together under intense pressure from his ex-wife, Steph (a truly horrible person) and the owners of the magazine he runs, the Mawsons (equally as horrible). I think telling the story from Tom’s perspective is genius and a refreshing change from the norm.
Hattie is Tom’s 5 year old daughter and who, in my opinion, is the star of the book. She is not your typical 5 year old girl - she has a love of wrestling and pirates and is so innocent and truthful with her observations it makes her totally believable. Hattie is funny and caused many a “laugh out loud” moment for me (the testicles incident being just one of them!) but she also provided some of the heartbreakingly sad moments … did I mention how truly horrible Steph is?!!
Fran - the Mysterious Miss Mayhew - an unconventional and straight-talking lady who, initially, comes across as being a little uptight but despite only getting to know her through her 10 point “Things I have learned today” diary entries, she very quickly grows on you. It’s amazing how much you can get to know a character just from 10 points and I applaud the author as I imagine this must have been very difficult to write having to condense the information into those 10 small chunks.
The story flows easily with a great mix of mystery, humour, tension and romance. Humour is a very fickle thing - everyone has their own tastes and preferences so I think it’s particularly difficult to appeal to the masses but I feel it was done so naturally by the author that it should appeal to anyone with even a tiny sense of humour.
Overall, I am really pleased that I took a punt and requested a copy via www.netgalley.com and am grateful for the publisher, Quercus Books, for sending me it and I would recommend to anyone who enjoys a great story with fantastic characters.