My enormous thanks to Laurie McShea and Sara-Jade Virtue of TeamBATC for inviting me to participate in the blog tour for The Bookshop of Second Chances by Jackie Fraser and for sending me a copy of the book in return for an honest review. I’m thrilled to share that review today and to have the honour of closing the tour.
Published by Simon and Schuster in paperback on 2nd September 2021, The Bookshop of Second Chances is available for purchase through these links.
The Bookshop of Second Chances
Set in a charming little Scottish town, The Bookshop of Second Chances is the most uplifting story you’ll read this year!
Shortlisted for the RNA Katie Fforde Debut Romantic Novel Award 2021.
Thea’s having a bad month. Not only has she been made redundant, she’s also discovered her husband of nearly twenty years is sleeping with one of her friends. And he’s not sorry – he’s leaving.
Bewildered and lost, Thea doesn’t know what to do. But, when she learns the great-uncle she barely knew has died and left her his huge collection of second-hand books and a house in the Scottish Lowlands, she seems to have been offered a second chance.
Running away to a little town where no one knows her seems like exactly what Thea needs. But when she meets the aristocratic Maltravers brothers – grumpy bookshop owner Edward and his estranged brother Charles, Lord Hollinshaw – her new life quickly becomes just as complicated as the life she was running from…
An enchanting story of Scottish lords, second-hand books, new beginnings and second chances perfect for fans of Cressida McLaughlin, Veronica Henry, Rachael Lucas and Jenny Colgan.
My Review of The Bookshop of Second Chances
Running away is just the start for Thea.
The cover image of The Bookshop of Second Chances gave me a preconceived idea of the nature of the book so that I was surprised to find Jackie Fraser’s writing a lot more gritty and edgy than anticipated and I enjoyed the read all the more for it. I had expected a standard romantic story and indeed there is romance, but The Bookshop of Second Chances is very much more than that. There’s actually quite a deep psychological aspect to the story as Edward’s family background is uncovered. Add in considerable dry humour and The Bookshop of Second Chances is enormously entertaining.
I loved meeting Thea. She’s a thoroughly rounded character in whom Jackie Fraser balances strength and insecurity absolutely perfectly so that Thea feels very much a real woman. Her first person narrative makes reading the story seem as if a close friend is chatting with the reader. Jackie Fraser has an unusual style in the direct speech employed by Thea and Edward particularly, and this enhances the intimate feeling, the sense of immediacy and the reality and authenticity of the story. I thought this aspect was brilliant. Of the male characters it was Edward who completely captivated me. Resonant of Charlotte Bronte’s Rochester he epitomises the brooding anti-hero that is so attractive. I was in love with him myself from the first time I met him and was fascinated to see if or how his interactions with Thea might develop into something more. You’ll have to read the book to find out what ensues!
I so enjoyed the plot. In a sense, not a great deal happens but this is by no means a criticism. Rather, The Bookshop of Second Chances gives a totally absorbing and compelling insight into the building of an ordinary new life for Thea and demonstrates so skilfully how new friendships and relationships are established. There’s a real depth to this aspect of the book that I found fascinating. It’s as if Jackie Fraser has looked into the mind of a kind of ‘Everywoman’ in Thea and afforded the reader the opportunity to understand her, to empathise and to exclaim ‘Oh yes!’ in response to some of Thea’s thoughts and actions. I found this such an engaging aspect of The Bookshop of Second Chances.
The themes of The Bookshop of Second Chances are totally captivating. The breakdown of a marriage, the need to start again in middle age, the concepts of fidelity, revenge, public versus private persona, family, friendship and love all blend into a compelling story that I found both entertaining and intelligent.
I really recommend The Bookshop of Second Chances. I have a feeling it might not be exactly what readers are expecting, but they’ll love what they find. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
About Jackie Fraser
Jackie Fraser is a freelance editor and writer. She’s worked for AA Publishing, Watkins, the Good Food Guide, and various self-published writers of fiction, travel and food guides, recipe books and self-help books since 2012. Prior to that, she worked as an editor of food and accommodation guides for the AA, including the B&B Guide, Restaurant Guide, and Pub Guide for nearly twenty years, eventually running the Lifestyle Guides department. She’s interested in all kind of things, particularly history, (and prehistory) art, food, popular culture and music. She reads a lot, (no, really) in multiple genres, and is fascinated by the Bronze Age. She likes vintage clothes, antique fairs, and photography. She used to be a bit of a goth. She likes cats.