When Rose Taylor walks in on her best friend and her fiancé in bed with each other, she decides it is time to make a change with her life. She quits her day job at a building society and moves from London to Bath where she decides to open a Vintage clothing shop, something which has been her passion for years. But once the shop is open, Rose is shocked by the apparent power of the vintage dresses she is selling... she can't believe the things going on within her little shop, and it appears the magic is only going to get stronger until Rose figures out how to control it once and for all. Will the magic within help Rose figure out how to get her man back, or make her realise she wants to grab life with both hands?
When this book landed on my doormat, I have to confess I wasn't overly drawn to it and was ready to put it on my ever growing to-read pile but something made me pick it up and read the synopsis. I'm not usually into magical type books, that is usually what puts me off Cecelia Ahern's books because there's a hint of something not quite believable going on, so I still don't really know what it was that made me start to read this. The lovely blue and red cover is pretty eye-catching, and the story reminded me a lot of Isabel Wolff's fabulous book A Vintage Affair so I thought it was worth a go, and Little Black Dress books are usually a great read!
The book actually began quite normally, introducing us to the character of Rose and her life being turned upside-down by discovering her fiancé Carl is a bit of a cheating scum-bag. Immediately, the reader is sympathetic to Rose because of her circumstances and I did like her straight away so I think that was a good place for Morris to begin. It also gives a good push to Rose starting her shop as well, and opens up that whole thread which is really good. There is nothing magical at all introduced for the first third or thereabouts, so I got really into the book and forgot there was supposed to be a magical element, so it really took me by surprise when it suddenly appeared.
The characters are really good and well written, they're quite believable and I liked them all. Rose is the main character but I really loved her sister Lily who appears frequently throughout the book along with their mother Mimi who is a real hoot and adds a great bit of comedy into the book with her crazy lifestyle! The guys from the Hands Solo computer place that comes in are also great, especially Rich who I really warmed to and I was loving the slow developing story between Rose and him. Carl is typically hateable but it's nice to have a character like that in a book because they can't all be nice!
Okay, back to my main problem with the book - the magic. Now, I really don't mind a little bit of magic in my books, I did enjoy Ahern's The Book of Tomorrow and a few others, but this one seemed to get a little bit deeper into it than anything else I had read, and the end 1/4 was completely absorbed by this magical element, a little too much so for my liking if I am honest. When the magical part of the book begins, it's just a little and I found it quite sweet, the idea that the dresses in the shop had a power over their new owners when they wore them - this seemed a lovely idea and something I was quite able to embrace. However, the "goddess" idea took a more sinister turn later on and then went into a full on Tolkein-esque story with the entry into an online world which did throw me a bit as it was totally unexpected. There were many terms in there I had no idea about, it seemed very out of the blue and action-packed compared to the relative calm of the rest of the book.
I really did enjoy the story about Rose opening her shop, and the change this had on her as a person, and I even enjoyed the initial magic of the book with the power of the vintage dresses, but for me it just went that step too far with the last part of the book that was just too much for me. I felt it took a complete u-turn and it felt out of place within the book which is a real shame. Rose is a great character, I did want to give her a bit of a slap at first because of her reaction to Carl and her desperation to get him back but she really develops well, and works well with the other characters. I found the constant narrative quite odd because I'm used to a lot more speech within a book, whereas this third person narrative takes up pretty much 95% of the book which was odd but I was used to it by the end! If you enjoy a LOT of magic in your books, this one will be for you but if not, read it with caution.