Review: The Bookshop of Second Chances by Jackie Fraser

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Thea Mottram is having a bad month. Her husband of nearly twenty years has just left her for one of her friends, and she is let go from her office job–on Valentine’s Day, of all days. Bewildered and completely lost, Thea doesn’t know what to do. But when she learns that a distant great uncle in Scotland has passed away, leaving her his home and a hefty antique book collection, she decides to leave Sussex for a few weeks. Escaping to a small coastal town where no one knows her seems to be exactly what she needs.

Almost instantly, Thea becomes enamored with the quaint cottage, comforted by its cozy rooms and shaggy, tulip-covered lawn. The locals in nearby Baldochrie are just as warm, quirky, and inviting. The only person she can’t seem to win over is bookshop owner Edward Maltravers, to whom she hopes to sell her uncle’s antique novel collection. His gruff attitude–fueled by an infamous, long-standing feud with his brother, a local lord–tests Thea’s patience. But bickering with Edward proves oddly refreshing and exciting, leading Thea to develop feelings she hasn’t felt in a long time. As she follows a thrilling yet terrifying impulse to stay in Scotland indefinitely, Thea realizes that her new life may quickly become just as complicated as the one she was running from.

Source: NetGalley and Ballantine Books Rating: 4/5 stars

The Bottom Line: Thea Mottram is one of my favorite character types – the woman wronged, the woman whose life has been turned upside down but refuses to succumb to the wight of it all.  Rather than wallow in self-pity, Thea makes for a small coastal town intent on setting things right with her late relative’s estate and simply taking a few weeks to reset and determine the trajectory of her life from this point forward.

As a few weeks turns into a few months, Thea finds she not only likes the small town and her cozy cottage, but she also likes her otherwise grumpy and irascible boss at the local bookstore.  The bookstore is something of a safe haven for Thea and she learns the business, she learns how to improve the business and that brings a great sense of accomplishment.  Even her surly boss is impressed by her endeavors and encourages Thea to soldier on.  To literally everyone’s surprise, Thea and her boss not only get along but seem to genuinely like one another and that sets tongues a wagging about town.  Yet again, I find myself on the opposite end of the star rating spectrum with this book.  I enjoyed this read.  Between Edward’s sordid past, Thea’s recent life-altering experiences, and the locals, the setting for this particular story is just perfect.  Small towns always breed a bit of crazy and I find myself drawn to this setting again and again.  The Bookshop of Second Chances is exactly what it bills itself to be and for more than one character a second chance is exactly what is given.  Make no mistake, this isn’t a straight line from sad and awful to HEA, but a bit of winding road with plenty of bumps and potholes along the way.  The bumps and potholes make the second chances and the eventual HEA totally worth it and makes this book a solid stand alone read.

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