18 October 2011

Book Review: An Autumn Crush by Milly Johnson

"After a bruising divorce, headstrong Juliet Miller invests in a flat and advertises for a flatmate, little believing that in her mid-thirties she'll find anyone suitable. But along comes self-employed copywriter Floz, raw from her own relationship split, and the two woman hit it off. When Juliet's twin brother Guy meets Floz, he is overcome with a massive crush. But being a shy, gentle giant, he communicates so clumsily with her as to give her the opposite impression. Guy's best friend Steve has always had a secret, unrequited crush on Juliet. After a night of too much wine, Steve and Juliet end up in bed, after moaning about the lack of sex in their lives. Convinced that Juliet doesn't feel the same way, Steve agrees to a 'just-sex' relationship, until they can both hook their dream partners. Just when Guy has finally plucked up the courage to tell Floz how he feels, he finds she has rekindled an old romance. Floz has never had much love in her life and is obviously thirsty for affection. She loves the whole Miller family, from Juliet and Guy's warm, loving parents, to their ancient one-eyed black cat. But can Guy turn Floz's affection for his family into something more - into love for him? Then Juliet makes a series of discoveries which will turn the lives of all four friends upside-down and turns that Autumn into a season where love can be harvested."
 I am a HUGE Milly Johnson fan and really look forward to her books coming out because they are always such a great read. What I love about them is the realistic characters, fun stories but most of all they are just bloomin' good books to read and I never want them to end. Now Milly has started to release 2 books a year under her contract with S&S, and this release follows the fantastic A Spring Affair which was released earlier this year. This seems to be the last of her season themed books, and is perhaps a little more serious than her previous offerings, in my opinion anyway, but it didn't stop it being hugely enjoyable, again full of warm and wonderful characters that you can really get involved with as you are reading. I do want to quickly say that I do love this cover as well, it does have a lovely autumnal feel about it and the colours work so well together, it really suits the book, another great job by S&S!
Instead of having one lead character, An Autumn Crush actually features 4 characters who are all equally important in the book. Juliet Miller is looking for a flat mate and comes across Floz Cherrydale, a greetings card writer who is recently out of her own relationship and the pair quickly decide they'd be perfect flatmates for each other. Juliet is a great character, quite outspoken and brash but has a heart of gold underneath that exterior. I recently liked her and found she was the perfect person to bring quiet Floz out of her shell. Floz was very shy and we don't get to know too much about her, she's a bit of a mystery at first but Johnson's great story-telling allows her story to unfold slowly and surely, explaining to the reader why she is the way she is and I was certainly surprised by some of the revelations.

The male characters were actually fantastic which makes a nice chance, as quite often in chick lit they're either the  hero or the cruel swine that you're meant to hate. Guy is Juliet's twin brother, has a huge crush of Floz but is showing it in the worst ways possible which is actually quite funny for the most part! I really liked him though, again he has something in his past affecting his present and I thought he was a lovely character, although not quite as lovely as Steve! Steve is a wrestler/plasterer and a funny, lovely Northern bloke who is so obviously in love with Juliet, I don't know how she hasn't seen it for all this time! It was lovely though to see nice male characters in chick lit, nice people that you want it to work out for and not hate, or that act really stupidly. All of the characters felt really realistic, like normal people and I really liked them.

Milly has clearly looked close to home for inspiration when writing this book which was quite nice, albeit strange to read about at times! Milly herself was a greetings card copywriter before becoming an author, and that is the job of Floz in the book, so I wonder how many of her jobs were taken from things Milly had to do in her own job! Also, Steve (and Guy) are wrestlers, although in Britain rather than a big American scene, and Milly is a big fan of wrestling, so again has looked to her own life for inspiration there. It's unusual for me to see so much of an author in their book, perhaps they do it more without us realising but it was obvious to me from the start the connections this book had with Milly's own life, and it was quite nice to read that.

This was a really enjoyable book with loveable characters, a great story, and it had me consumed from start to finish. I actually really liked the pace of this book as well, Johnson keeps things moving at such a pace you aren't sat waiting for the inevitable for too long and instead, it allows the story to progress further with these characters, which was highly enjoyable. Wrapped up in the sweet love stories however, are more serious issues, and I felt these were well handled by Johnson and the characters, and it goes to show that chick lit isn't all the light and ditzy fluff that has been bandied about lately. Yes, this is an undeniably fun read but with a witty and warm heart that is extremely easy to read and keeps you coming back for more. Fans of Milly will love this, and if you haven't yet read Milly's book, you wouldn't go far wrong as to start with this one!

Rating: 4/5

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