From the publisher:
A woman desperate to turn a new page heads to the Scottish coast and finds herself locked in a battle of wills with an infuriatingly aloof bookseller in this utterly heartwarming debut, perfect for readers of Evvie Drake Starts Over.
Thea Mottram is having a bad month. She’s been let go from her office job with no notice—and to make matters even worse, her husband of nearly twenty years has decided to leave her for one of her friends.
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 lovely but neglected garden. 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 book 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 experienced 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.
I have never been to Scotland, but ever since I read Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, I’ve wanted to go. Reading books set in Scotland is as close as I’ve gotten. While this book is set in Scotland, it feels more like Any Small Town Anywhere. I’m not complaining exactly, I like books set in small towns. A little more definitive Scotland would have added to the story for me.
This is a very slow moving romance. Thea meets Edward when she applies for a job in his bookshop. He has never hired a woman because he is afraid of relationships basically. They butt heads a lot but slowly become friends. Thea would like something more but neither of them are in any kind of hurry.
I didn’t really understand Thea. Her marriage falls apart because her husband decides he’s in love with her friend, yet she seems very calm about the whole thing. Stiff upper lip and all that. Edward is another cipher. I didn’t really understand either of them and just wasn’t invested in their happiness.
This was just too slow for me. While there is some charm here, there is not much humor. I did enjoy the book aspects of the story but that just wasn’t enough. The “will he or won’t he” takes pretty much the entire book before they very rapidly decide they are in love and finally get their happily ever after.
6/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch
THE BOOKSHOP OF SECOND CHANCES by Jackie Fraser. Ballantine Books (May 4, 2021). ISBN: 978-0593355657. 448 pages.