31 August 2012

Book Review: Ten Minutes to Fall In Love by Julia Llewellyn

"Zu Forbes has a complicated relationship with love. Her mother died when she was a teenager, leaving her with a lonely father and emotional baggage. So at the earliest opportunity she switched the baggage for luggage and took off around the world.

But now she's home and working for a dating agency. Can she find the perfect match for her dad? If only she can pair him off, she can run away again with a clear conscience.

While Zu busies herself fixing her dad's love life, she almost misses Cupid creeping up behind her. They say it takes ten minutes to fall in love so how can she be falling for someone she's known for years? And why is it taking so damn long to matchmake her dad?

Zu must make a commitment one way or the other: to her love life; to her family; and to the memories of a mother she's tried so desperately to forget.

Ten Minutes to Fall in Love is an engaging, witty and romantic story about finding that perfect person to share your life."

Rating: 4/5

I've read a few of Julia Llewellyn's novels in the past and enjoyed them, but it's been a few years since we were last treated to one of her books, so when I saw her latest book Ten Minutes to Fall in Love advertised on Amazon, I was excited to read it and therefore pleased when I received a review copy. I loved the cover as well when I saw it, it was unusual and pretty, certainly like no other book cover I have seen this year so far. I found the book very easy to read and I enjoyed reading about the lives of the characters, Zu in particular who was a great leading lady and carried the story perfectly.

Zu Forbes struggles with love, in all its forms. Her mum died when she was young, and she has a somewhat strained relationship with her father, and younger brothers, especially since she moved away to do volunteer work abroad. When she returns to London, she finds herself in need of a job, and stumbles into one at a dating agency. Zu thinks she can also help out her lonely dad at the same time, but realises she's all alone herself. When Zu meets up with old friend Jack, she finds that it might take a bit longer that just ten minutes to fall in love, no matter what her dating agencies motto says. Will Zu be able to find happiness for dad and herself, or is love lost for all of the Forbes?

I found this story was quite a break from the norm, it felt really refreshing to read it and I liked that it wasn't like a lot of other books I read at the moment. Zu is a great leading character, a strong, independent young women and not perfect, and Llewellyn is happy to show us her flaws. Zu is half Indian (her mother was Indian and her father is a white English man), and after the death of her mother when she was young due to a car crash, Zu has struggled to keep any sort of relationship, although she is still close to her younger twin brothers she virtually raised. I felt really sorry for Zu, she is clearly a deeply troubled character who needs help but won't seek it, and I found her realistic and quite a sad person.

The other characters in the book are extremely well written, and cover a broad ranges of sexes, ages and backgrounds. There's Zu's grandmother Naani, an Indian woman who owns a cosmetic company and is still reeling over the death of her daughter. There's Zu's father Tony who has been alone since his wife's death and is prompted to start dating again by Zu, despite his hesitations, and finds that love isn't perhaps as easy to come across as he thought. Finally, there's Gillian, a story seemingly unconnected to Zu's - Gillian is mother to teenager Holly who is rapidly going off the rails. When Holly's life descneds into chaos, Gillian realises she doesn't have anyone to turn to, but when tragedy strikes, Gillian finds help in the most unlikely of places. Each of these people have their own interesting story, and I really loved reading each of them, and loved how Llewellyn easy wove these stories altogether to make a seamless novel.

I really enjoyed reading Ten Minutes to Fall in Love, and found it such a refreshing read, and one which didn't seem like it had an obvious ending at all which was even better. All the way through, Zu kept going against what I wanted her to do, and I found myself getting irritated with her, then loving the new things she'd get up to, although I really wished she could have a better relationship with her poor father. Llewellyn juggles the multiple stories in the book easily, and manages to connect them all so you find it easy to follow the book, and wonder how each of these characters is going to end up by the final page. I read the book quite fast, in just a few sittings because I was keen to not put it down, and think it's probably my favourite of Llewellyn's books so far. She covers some big issues in the book; alcoholism and drug abuse among them, but does so without preaching, and makes them an important crux of the book. A refreshing and interesting read that I thoroughly enjoyed, and I recommend you give it a try too!

You can buy Ten Minutes to Fall in Love as a paperback or an eBook now.

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