Book review: Stay with Me

This self-published romantic novel shows bags of potential.

Book review: Stay with Me

CF Daly

(Part Three of the Be With Me Trilogy)

Create Space, €11.32;

Kindle, €5.67

THE novel opens with the American, Luca Jacob, lying on a beach in paradise.

He’s in Hawaii on honeymoon with the beautiful legal eagle Charlotte, so why does he feel so bored and depressed?

By the time the couple return to New York, it’s clear that something is very wrong. Drowning his sorrows, Luca can’t even bring himself to be polite to Charlotte’s parents.

Back in Co Cork, Lydia is depressed too. She’s taken to her bed after getting her doctor’s diagnosis.

She’s pregnant, and the father just happens to be that same Luca Jacob.

She loves Luca; she always has, but she had to leave him after that latest fling, didn’t she?

There are many twists and turns in this romantic rollercoaster before we reach the satisfying end, and the author has a sure grasp of her material. This page turner is peopled with some really lovely characters; believable, rounded and distinct.

I especially loved the warmth and chaos found in Lydia’s large family — and the way it contrasts so sharply with that of Luca’s.

She has the banter between siblings Ollie and Molly down to a tee; and Lydia’s cousin, Colin, whose flat Lydia lives in, along with his boyfriend, Val, provides welcome humour.

Charlotte’s mother, Victoria, adds a dose of manipulation to the mix, and Lydia’s colleagues provide some gossipy bitchiness. There’s a huge cast of characters, and the author carries them well.

However, I have one caveat. I hadn’t read the first two books in this trilogy, and was left rather at sea for the first few chapters.

A few sentences of explanation would have helped to make this a more effective standalone book.

The portrayal of pregnancy, labour and early motherhood were steeped in reality. And there were one or two surprises along the way.

A couple of times, when I was convinced that I had guessed a denouement, the author diverted the plot away from the obvious.

There are times when the pace flags; there is much too much repetition, and the final third of the book felt drawn out, but that’s a quibble.

I would recommend this book to fans of the genre. It’s a great read for a plane journey.

Back in the days when publishers were searching high and wide for the next Patricia Scanlon or Sheila O’Flanagan, this book would have found a traditional home.

Today, when they’ve become more cautious; and are looking for the next The Girl on the Train, or Gone Girl, new romance authors have little chance. Hence, this is self-published.

There’s nothing wrong with that, per-se. Indeed, many authors have used this platform to gather readers, and have subsequently gained lucrative contracts.

Think EL James of Fifty Shades of Grey fame, or our own Hazel Gaynor and Catherine Ryan Howard: both of whom self-published, and now have international deals, and bestseller status.

The problem with self- publishing, though, is that the books don’t go through rigorous editing, so a writer’s quirks can go unnoticed.

This writer, in the knowledge that an overuse of ‘he said, she said,’ is bad writing, thought that the answer was to, simply, replace the word ‘said’, with a synonym.

This false perception, shared by many a novice writer, is a bête noir of mine. It slows the flow of the dialogue, especially when the replacement word hasn’t the right meaning.

In this book, the author used over 100 synonyms including spat, chided, hypothesised and and demanded. She has Colin squawking, shrieking, and squeaking.

An astute agent or publisher would have soon sorted out that one, along with the proliferating adverbs, and filler. Since this author has narrative skill, and a keen eye for character, I believe she deserves a chance.

Will someone, please, take her on?

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