4 October 2015

Book Review: The Things We Do For Love by Alice Peterson

"Love may hurt, but not loving hurts even more . . .

January Wild loves her daughter, her dog and her childhood home by the sea.

Single parenting is tough, but January has no regrets. She has a job she loves, a happy home and the support of her beloved grandfather. The arrival of a new boss, however, threatens to shake up January's safe world.

Ward Metcalfe loves great sales results and a well-run office.

Everyone at her office agrees: Ward is a soulless, corporate slave driver. Even Spud, the company mascot, dislikes him.

A secret stands between them.

Yet over time January sees there is more to Ward than meets the eye. Rumours circulate. What exactly is he hiding? and is January prepared to risk everything to find out?"

Rating: 5/5

Available to buy now.

Alice Peterson has very quickly become of those authors who I just have to read - it doesn't matter what books I have in front of her new book, I just want to read hers because I know it's going to be a great read. The cover for her latest book, The Things We Do for Love, is nice enough, but didn't blow me away for some reason. However, the blurb certainly piqued my interest, and I was excited to start reading the book. I was only a few pages in, but immediately I was hooked, and didn't want to stop reading. I loved every page of this, and it's one of my top reads of the year without a doubt.

January is a single mother to her young daughter, but wouldn't have it any other way. She loves her daughter to bits, works hard to provide for the pair of them, and everything has been going well so far. However, when her beloved boss decides to retire, and Ward Metcalfe turns up in his place, January is a bit unsure about things now. The pair don't exactly click, with Ward just wanting sales figures to increase, and ignoring the experience of his sales teams, things seem at an all-time low at January's workplace. The longer January works with Ward, however, she sees something else in him, something the others cannot. And when he uncovers her secret, Ward is prepared to give January more of a chance. Can the pair work things out between them at work before it's too late?

There is a whole part of this book which was completely and utterly special to me, yet I can't reveal it here without spoiling the story as it's something that comes across far better if you read it as part of the whole story. However, I can say that Alice Peterson has handled such a storyline with compassion, fact and elegance - I immersed myself in January and Isla's world, and their struggle together, and admired them for everything they have been through, January in particular for dealing with everything pretty much on her own after Isla's father Dan left once he found out January was pregnant. It certainly shapes these characters, and I couldn't help but love January and Isla, they are such a strong unit and their relationship was a pleasure to read. The story between the pair is very emotional, with the flashbacks to Isla's early years being particularly heart-rending, and awe-inspiring at January's strength.

I really enjoyed how Peterson has written the work life of January in this story, it runs alongside her personal life but plays an equally important role in her life. The story really begins when Ward, January's new boss, arrives on the scene. He is written as a bit of an ogre, someone who doesn't care much for his employee's feelings, rather the facts and figures are the be all and end all for him. I didn't have much patience for him as a character, and struggled to warm to him, but as the book went on, I became more curious about him and felt more willing to give him a chance, much like January did. I enjoyed how Peterson manipulated my emotions as a reader, making me heavily dislike him and slowly warming him up, making it so that I didn't feel bad for mellowing towards him because there was more to him that meets the eye.

Another touching element of this book for me was the close relationship that January has with her elderly grandfather. January and her brother Lucas were raised by their grandparents after the death of their parents when they were little, and consequently, January comes to rely heavily on them as she grows up. In the modern part of the story, only her grandfather is living, but I loved the closeness the pair shared, when Isla and January visited him in his seaside home, it's the sort of relationship I hope my son has with his grandparents when he is grown up. Alice Peterson has that ability to really tap into emotions and relationships in her stories, they are what ultimately makes her books so readable and relatable.

This was a superbly written novel, and quite possibly the best one that Alice Peterson has written to date - no mean feat considering how much I have enjoyed several of her earlier books! Again, Peterson isn't afraid to tackle some harder, more emotional issues in her book, but it was handled so beautifully in this book. It was a very moving and emotional story that unfolded at a perfect pace, allowing the different story arcs to develop and the characters to emerge and become so that you feel like you know them, and want to be involved in their story. January, Ward, Isla and co are characters that will stay with me a long time after reading this book, and I do not hesitate to recommend this beautiful read.

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