30 May 2017

Book Review: Paper Hearts and Summer Kisses by Carole Matthews

"Christie Chapman is a single working mother who spends her days commuting to her secretarial job in London and looking after her teenage son, Finn. It can be tough just getting through the day but Christie has always found comfort in her love of crafting and any spare time she has is spent in her parents' summerhouse working on her beautiful creations. From intricately designed birthday cards to personalised gifts, Christie's flair for the handmade knows no bounds and it's not long before opportunity comes knocking. All of a sudden Christie sees a different future for her and Finn - one full of hope and possibility, and if the handsome Max Alexander is to be believed, one full of love too. It's all there for the taking.

And then, all of sudden, Christie's world is turned upside down.

Christie knows that something has to give, but what will she choose? Will she give up her dreams and the chance of real love? What price will she pay for doing the right thing? Can Christie find her happy ending in . . . Paper Hearts and Summer Kisses."

Rating: 5/5

It's not very often that I read a book and wish that I were able to rate it higher than my top rating, but that was certainly the case with Carole Matthew's latest book. Paper Hearts and Summer Kisses is quite possibly my favourite book by Carole so far, no mean feat considering how much I have loved some of her other books, but for me, this was on a whole other level. I loved every page of it, it was compulsive from start to finish, and I have highly recommend it as one of those must-read summer books - simply brilliant, and here's why.

Paper Hearts and Summer Kisses is the story of single mum Chrisie, who lives with her son Finn near to her parents, who often help her out with childcare when the need arises. Christie commutes every day into London to do a job she doesn't necessarily love, but does because it pays well. In her spare time, she loves to craft, and be with her son. So when the opportunity arises to work with a brand new crafting brand, to create some new lines, Christie grabs the chance with both hands. As she makes friends with her new American boss Max, Christie's world is completely turned upside-down, and she finds herself struggling. Will she be able to balance her work life with her home life, or does caring for the person who means the most means she has to give up her dreams?

I don't want to spoil a lot about this story, because a lot of the joy in the book for me was not knowing what was coming, and therefore the storyline certainly hit me harder as it unfolds. I found a lot of similarities in myself and Christie, we're both single mums to boys, both hard workers, both have hobbies that allow us to be at home in our spare time, and are both very family orientated. This is why I think Christie's dilemma hit me so hard, it felt so real, and I felt like I was being put through the emotional wringer as I was reading. Christie's relationship with her son Finn was beautiful to read too, a very close relationship and one that a mother dreams of having with her own son.

Now, I'm not a very crafty person myself, but Christie certainly is in the book. She loves to create things, use lots of embellishments in her work, and many of these are described throughout the book as Christie comes to terms with her new job, inventing exciting new products. I didn't have a clue what half of it meant, to tell you the truth, but I enjoyed imagining in my head my own version of the things that Christie was making! I also enjoyed reading about the friendship between Christie and her new boss, Max, who lives in the USA. I was hopeful perhaps she might open up her heart to him, but it seemed duty was win out with this tough, single mum.

Carole Matthews writing was stunning throughout this book. she tapped perfectly into the psyche of Christie, her duty, her sense of obligation but also the lack of self-belief, and how hard her parents, especially her mother, encourage and believe in her, in whatever she does. To this end, the relationships in this book were so perfectly written, it filled my heart with warmth and joy, it was so nice to read of a family not at war with one another! Carole delves into the serious issues with the book so well, you feel every emotion along with these characters, but I always felt a glittering beacon of hope woven throughout, I was so hopeful everything would end and leave me with a big smile on my face. I don't want to say anymore as I don't want to spoil anything, except to say I cannot recommend this book enough, it is a true gem of a read, and you truly won't want to put it down. Uplifting, emotional, heart-wrenching and joyful all in one, one of my reads of the year, without a doubt.

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