3 December 2014

Book Review: The Little Shop of Hopes and Dreams by Fiona Harper

"Nicole Harrison is planning the proposal of the century. Too bad its not her own…

Nicole, a born organiser and true romantic, has created her dream job when she sets up the Hopes & Dreams proposal agency – staging YouTube worthy proposals…until she’s hired to plan a proposal by gorgeous photographer Alex Black’s girlfriend.

Alex is the New Year’s kiss that Nicole hasn’t been able to forget – and now she’s planning his wedding to someone else! But if she lets herself fall for Alex’s charms, her reputation and business will be ruined before it’s even got off the ground! Suddenly the girl whose always prepared is at a loss…and falling head over heels."

Rating: 4/5

You can buy The Little Shop of Hopes and Dreams as a paperback or an eBook now.

I haven't yet read anything from author Fiona Harper, so was excited to receive a copy of her new book The Little Shop of Hopes and Dreams via NetGalley. It had a festive cover, so I was hoping that it would be a pretty Christmassy read too, but I have to confess that it fell short in that regard. I do get a bit frustrated when publishers stick a Christmas looking cover on a book that isn't actually a Christmas read, it certainly sets your hopes high for some festive feeling. However, I did enjoy the story of this one, and enjoyed reading it as it unfolded, and would definitely recommend the read.

Nicole Harrison is the owner of the Hopes and Dreams proposal agency, but business isn't exactly booming at the moment. Given that her friends have made financial investments into the business, Nicole is determined to make it a success for everyone. When she's hired by a local celebrity to plan her surprise engagement to her fiancé, photographer Alex Black, Nicole is thrilled. That is until she meets Alex. She realises Alex is the New Year's Eve kiss she will never forget, and her feelings come rushing back as she gets to know him. Despite this, Nicole keeps ploughing ahead with the engagement planning. But will it all end in tears, or the proposal of Alex's dreams?

This book reminded of several other books which was rather strange as I was reading, I have to admit. Firstly, it reminded me very much of Holly Martin's book One Hundred Proposals, also about a proposal planner, although this story does go down a different route. Secondly, it reminded of Paige Toon's 'Thirteen Weddings', because Nicole begins shadowing Alex's photography at various weddings, much like the main character in Paige's book. Nonetheless, I still enjoyed the story, and seeing how it would all end up. Yes, the ending is predictable, you know how you want it to end, but you are left wondering how exactly Nicole is going to get that to happen after she makes error after error with Alex and his girlfriend Saffron.

I actually really enjoyed reading Alex and Nicole's friendship develop, especially when Nicole was assisting him at the weddings that he was photographing. I enjoyed reading about these weddings, the things that go on as well as the more technical side of Alex's photography. Fiona Harper writes this side of the book really well, and I enjoyed the pace of her writing too, it worked really well and made the book a nice, easy read that you look forward to picking up in the evenings. Although I enjoyed their friendship, Nicole herself did frustrate me more than a bit. I wanted to shout at her, tell her to be honest and tell either Alex or Saffron what happened between the pair and see where things went after that. As it was, she continued her deception, and I almost wanted to read through my fingers at times, I just knew it would all end horribly at some point!

Sadly there aren't many proposals in the book, which is a shame because the first one in the book is a hoot, and opened on the book on a great note. Yes, the story was focused on planning a proposal for Saffron and Alex, but this almost seemed pushed to the back burner at times, as the story was more focused on Alex and Nicole getting to know each other more. Despite these few negatives though, I did enjoy the story, even if in parts I felt a little uncomfortable with Nicole and Alex's budding romance, given he has a girlfriend and she is entirely unaware of the situation between the pair. Harper's writing is really good, allows you to get really into the story, and as I said, I really enjoyed the scenes at the various weddings, these were fun to read. I enjoyed this book, and will certainly be looking out for more from Fiona Harper, festive or otherwise.

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