I’ve read books by Penelope Ward before, and they have never been as good as this one. This was a really addictive story and it was really well written. I would definitely recommend it to friends.
Even though I really liked this book, I am going to rant a little in this review. You see, the whole Rory situation (Amber’s ex-boyfriend) was glamorized to the point of making me sick. Rory was a jerk. I know that he had his reason for leaving, but it just seemed like yet another event in their relationship where Rory was manipulating Amber. Their relationship started with him withholding information and lying to & about his so-called best friend. I know he really liked Amber and that’s why the original deception occurred, but it was a total dick move. It seemed like he never respected Amber’s ability to think for herself.
Another thing that bothered me was that the author seemed to be throwing in the parent with dementia subplot for extra drama. As someone who has a parent with dementia, it was annoying and insulting to see it handled in this way. It seemed like Ward has never been around anyone with dementia and is only familiar with how dementia patients act from television & movies. The interactions were unnatural and some of the things that were said, i.e. that people with dementia always get kinder and more loving as it progresses, just seemed very bizarre. (Dementia causes patients to become more anxious and agitated, which doesn’t generally result in kinder, loving behavior.)
There needed to be a bit more development in the relationship between Channing and Amber, and I would have loved to see more development in the characters of Milo and Annabelle. I really felt like the Christmas scene with Boris and his family was cute, but unnecessary. I understand that she was using Boris as a way to communicate to Amber how Rory felt & to tell her that she needed to make the decision that was right for her, but Rory’s feelings were obvious and the whole make-your-own-decision thing had already been said by Annabelle and Rory and Channing. It just felt like a space-filler.
Other than the two major issues and the handful of minor ones, I really did like the story. I might even love it. I definitely thought it was an improvement on some of her older work, and I hope that future books by Ward will be even better.