5 May 2014

Book Review: The Time of Our Lives by Jane Costello

"Three best friends. One five-star hotel. Will it be the holiday of a lifetime ...? 

Imogen and her friends Meredith and Nicola have had their fill of budget holidays, cattle-class flights and 6 a.m. offensives for a space by the pool. So when Meredith wins a VIP holiday at Barcelona's hippest new hotel, they plan to sip champagne with the jet set, party with the glitterati and switch off in unapologetic luxury. 

But when the worst crisis of her working life erupts back home, Imogen has to juggle her BlackBerry with a Manhattan, while soothing a hysterical boss and hunting down an AWOL assistant. Between a robbery, a run-in with hotel security staff and an encounter on a nudist beach that they'd all rather forget, the friends stumble from one disaster to the next. 

At least Imogen has a distraction in the form of the gorgeous guy who's always in the right place at the very worst time. Until, that is, his motives start to arouse a few suspicions .."

Rating: 5/5

You can buy The Time of Our Lives as a paperback or an eBook now.

Jane Costello's books are always a reading staple for me - they're funny, well written and really enjoyable books that I look forward to each year! I was really excited to receive a review copy of her latest book, The Time of Our Lives, from Jane's publishers Simon&Schuster, and eagerly got stuck in. The book sounded like it was going to be really fun - a girly holiday that goes somewhat wrong... just what I need in the evenings, something nice and light-hearted to read! Now I've finished, I can safely say this is a perfect summer read, and one of my favourite of Jane's books to date!

Imogen's life is quite full, what with being a single mum to her young daughter, and working full time as a PA as well - she doesn't seem to get any time to herself. However, when her friend Meredith wins a luxury holiday, she's insistent on taking both Imogen and their friend Nicola to enjoy some much needed R&R in sunny Barcelona. Unfortunately for Imogen though, things don't quite go to plan. She collides with a handsome stranger called Harry in the airport, and he seems to be making his presence known around them once the ladies land and get to their hotel as well. They seem to go from one bit of bad luck to another despite the sunshine and promise of a great holiday, and soon Imogen is all but ready to go home. Are any of the girls going to ever find this holiday to be the time of their lives?!

First of all, I want to say how much I loved the characters in this book. I especially loved the two main women in the story, Meredith and Imogen. Not only were they believable as real people that you could have as your own friends, but they were just nice people too! Imogen was a character I warmed to a lot - she's a single mum like me, and is struggling to get a good work/life balance, something else I know quite well. You feel for her in feeling guilty at leaving her daughter behind, but you can also see how much she needs the break too, so I was pleased Meredith and Nicola managed to talk her into it. But goodness me, what a clumsy and accident prone person Imogen was! She was constantly finding herself in trouble, whether it's with her phone, or her limbs, or her possessions, it did seem a little crazy at times!

However, while there were some rather ridiculous moments, they were outweighed by how much I enjoyed the whole story. Harry, as the leading man in the book, was everything you want in the book's hero - handsome, kind, and a gentleman, it's just a shame that there wasn't more of him in the book as I really did love him. Meredith was just hilarious, heavily pregnant but totally in denial of her shape, her impending motherhood and just how much her life is going to change, I loved her! Nicola was the one we saw the least, so I didn't really think too much about her, she seemed a bit forgettable to me. There were also characters from Imogen's work, especially her boss who seems to be struggling with a spot of trouble the company has gotten itself into, and he didn't seem to mind interrupting her holiday for it - I think I'd have gone mad long before Imogen did with it all!

This was a really well written and enjoyable story, and I loved the setting of Barcelona. We mainly get to see the hotel as this is where the women seem to spend most of their holiday, but occasionally they venture out and Costello writes the city beautifully, everything is easy to imagine. One thing I thoroughly in the book was the flashbacks to Imogen's relationship with her daughter Florence's father, Roberto. It's touchingly written, and while it's puzzling for a while as we don't know what happened, when it is revealed I was shocked and really moved by how well it was written. Costello's writing is as brilliant as ever, delivering with the wit and emotion of the book with ease, and her cast of incredibly likeable characters makes you want to keep reading until you've reached the end! Yes, I found myself getting frustrated with Imogen at times, wishing she'd turn her flipping phone off, but of course then the novel wouldn't be half as funny would it?! Brilliant, and definitely a worthy summer read :)

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