21 February 2014

Book Review: With or Without You by Helen Warner

"What if everything you ever wanted was not enough?

Martha Lamont has it all: a passionate marriage, two well-adjusted children, a lovely home and a high-profile job as a showbiz interviewer for a major national newspaper. Her gorgeous husband, Jamie, is happy being a stay-at-home-dad while she pursues her career. 

But appearances are often deceiving. One day, Martha makes a discovery that rocks the very foundation of her world and she begins to question everything she thought she wanted.

Then, during an interview with a famous actor, Charlie Simmons, Martha finds herself pouring her heart out. And soon their friendship turns into an intense relationship… 

Now, Martha must make the toughest decision of her life. Does she fight to keep the life she loves? Or are some betrayals just too big to forgive?"

Rating: 4/5

You can buy With or Without You as a paperback or an eBook now.

I was sent this book to review by Simon and Schuster, and I was surprised because somehow I didn't know that Helen Warner had a new book out. I have read and enjoyed her previous few books, and therefore decided this one would definitely be worth a read. I really like the cover - it's quite under-stated but suits the book a lot, it's very different to Helen's other book covers as well which I have to say is a good thing! I really did enjoy the story, it was a nice escapist read from start to finish, and I'd definitely recommend With or Without You.

Martha has a pretty good life, and she's happy with her lot. She loves her job as a newspaper journalist, writing things about celebrities, often interviewing them as well and she's good at it. She's happily married to husband Jamie, and the pair have two young children. Jamie's a stay-at-home dad, and the set up works well for the pair. But when Martha finds out a devastating secret, her world is rocked to the very core. She decides to see through her interview with actor Charlie Simmons, and ends up confessing all. She decides she needs to escape her life for a bit, and ends up in LA with Charlie, running away from her problems rather than dealing with them...

This book was an easy read from the beginning, and I didn't struggle at all to get into the story. I found myself absorbed into Martha and Jamie's home life, seemingly a perfect marriage. The pair are happy in their roles, their children are settled and things are looking good. But when Martha uncovers a secret, everything is thrown into disarray. The secret is uncovered fairly quickly in the book, and I'm pleased that the pace was kept up. There was enough story before it to give us an idea of their family life before the secret throws it all apart, so we can really see the difference of how it shatters not only Jamie and Martha's marriage, but their general life too.

I really did feel so sorry for Martha. She did absolutely nothing wrong, she was entirely faultless in what happened and is clearly a broken woman when she finds out what has been happening. I admired how she was able to put on a brave face for her children, but could totally understand her shocking reactions when they aren't about. Jamie on the hand, well, he has an excuse for everything but I wasn't buying it. There were times later in the book when I did feel a little bit more sorry for him, but my main emotions laid with Martha and her children, she was going through so much and was confused by everything. Warner writes her emotions so well, you are almost feeling them along with Martha, and I certainly had a few choice words for Jamie!

The part of the story when Martha confides in famous actor Charlie and beyond, well that was a fantastic part of the story that fitted in so well. It really allowed us to see a nice side to Martha, one who could try and forget her troubles for a while, and her lifestyle in LA with Charlie was like a dream come true. I loved the addition of Charlie and his back story too. Once an actor famous on TV in the UK, his career took him to Hollywood with his wife and young son until their marriage fell apart, much like Martha and Jamie's. Therefore he related to Martha, and the pair's relationship quickly becomes very intense. I enjoyed this storyline a lot, I didn't know where it was going, and thought it was very well handled. Charlie seemed like the perfect gent next to Jamie, you can see why Martha liked him so much.

Overall, this was a brilliant read and I thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish. Helen Warner's writing was really easy to read, and she brings the story to life on the pages so well, I could almost feel Martha's emotions along with her, sadness, sorrow, anger and love despite everything too. I want to also say that I felt Martha and Jamie's children were well written too, some authors don't know how to write realistic children in their books, but this wasn't a problem here and there were several touching scenes with them that really made the book for me. Travelling from the UK over to the bright lights of LA, this book has a bit of everything for you to enjoy - it's a fantastic, well written read that I can definitely recommend, I'll look forward to more of Helen Warner's novels!

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