All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: If I Kissed You by Louise Reynolds

on November 18, 2015

If I Kissed YouIf I Kissed You
Louise Reynolds
Penguin Books AUS
2015, eBook
Copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley

Blurb {courtesy the publisher/Goodreads.com}:

Raised by a pair of hopeless hippies, Nell Connor had to grow up quickly. But now her father, awash in whisky, has handed her the reins of his Irish pub. After obliterating every trace of Ireland, Nell has transformed it into a smart, and trendy bar. Business is booming but, outside of work, things aren’t going so smoothly.

When gorgeous musician Declan Gaffney arrives, it’s clear he’s definitely not Nell’s type. He’s Irish (therefore must be feckless and unreliable), he sings romantic Irish ballads (which Nell hates) and his nomadic lifestyle reminds her of some of the most painful parts of her childhood.

After Declan helps Nell out of a tricky situation, her father takes a shine to him and starts matchmaking. And when her aura-reading mother turns up, Nell’s carefully ordered life is thrown into chaos. She’s losing control but the biggest shock of all is yet to come …

In a story that shines a light on the unusual forms family can take, Nell must accept that sometimes love takes you in unexpected directions.

Romance is always my “go-to” when I’m not sure what I want to read so I requested this from NetGalley thinking it would be perfect for my mood – and it was! It’s set in Melbourne, where I live in a suburb I’m pretty familiar with and enjoy going to.

Nell has been handed the keys to her father’s old pub but she’s made sure that she’s changed it completely. No longer a place for drunken fights and old blokes propping up the bar all day, it’s now a smart pub with a good chef and entertaining live music. She’s proud of what she’s achieved and how she’s managed to move on from the days when the police were regular visitors. Nell’s dream does wobble a little when Declan Gaffney turns up instead of the musician she had booked. Declan is Irish – fiddle, blarney, lilting words Irish and Nell doesn’t want any of that. He’s also incredibly good looking and as she finds out, can handle himself in a scrap when a couple of drunk businessmen cause trouble.

But more than anything, Nell craves security and stability. Her father is a slave to the drink, always misty-eyed and dreaming of Ireland despite the fact he wasn’t actually born there. He wallows in the culture of Ireland, reading Irish literature, drinking Irish whiskey and waxing lyrical about the music and how it brings a tear to the eye. Nell’s mother is a ‘free-spirit’ who flits in and out changing her name with each new fad that she embraces. Nell’s childhood was disrupted and erratic and now that she’s an adult she seeks to distance herself from all of it. She has a respectable, classy establishment and a respectable and hard working boyfriend. Okay, so they don’t see each other that often but they both work hard and have goals.

Declan threatens Nell’s ideals. He’s Irish, which she wants to avoid like the plague and Declan hasn’t told her exactly what sort of Irish he is which is even worse. Declan has never really put down roots, something that frightens Nell enormously, having been dragged around by her mother who doesn’t believe in roots either. I liked the way Declan challenged Nell to step outside of her comfort zone and the safe life she had built for herself. I understand her need to have that security but it was clear that it was also at the expense of anything wild and fun as well. Declan encourages Nell to live a little, to embrace her fun side. Not everything is about work and building the future, sometimes it’s just about the now and the having a good time…and that sort of stuff can lead to more. I felt for Nell, her mother is truly a despicable sort of person, utterly self absorbed and uncaring of the impact that selfishness had on Nell as a child and still was having as an adult. Nell’s father had his flaws too and the Irish stuff was laid on a bit thick but I think that at least he cared for Nell’s wellbeing and happiness and he wanted good things for her. He also knew that mistakes had been made in her upbringing and was willing to shoulder the responsibility for some of those. He was a bit of a wily old bloke and the scene where he ‘falls’ and needs specific sort of help, setting poor Nell up, is very funny.

Not only is this a super enjoyable read but I learned quite a bit too about the Irish travelers. It was great to read about them, don’t come across them too often in contemporary fiction and it made for an interesting point of potential conflict between Declan and Nell.

8/10

Book #166 of 2015

aww-badge-2015

If I Kissed You is book #65 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2015

 

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