The Lucky Escape by Laura Jane Williams
If you like happily ever afters and feel-good romance novels, then this book is for you.
The story begins with jilted bride, Annie and absent groom, Alexander. Straight away, the connection between Annie and her little sister, Frederica is evident, followed closely by her relationship with her best friend, Adzo, giving you an insight into the type of person that Annie is. As they prepare heir beloved Annie for the biggest day of her life, we learn that her husband-to-be isn't, and doesn't show up to their wedding venue. The compassion that is immediately felt for Annie came as much more of a surprise to me than I was expecting; although it usually takes me a little time to connect with the characters of a book, it seemed to be instantaneous this time around, from "Annie-Doo, you look like a ... model."
As the story unwraps, we learn that Annie's relationship with her father is very loving and strong, in contrast to that of her bond with her mother, which is much more strained, but Laura still manages to convey the love that is very clearly there. The desire to keep reading was strong, given that I am a romantic and I wanted to see the direction that this love story would take her. To my delight, it didn't take long before it was in full swing; unlike some books that take many chapters to pick up, The Lucky Escape seemed to be fairly fast moving. After several chapters of processing her abandonment and meeting her support network, Annie bumps into an old camp friend, Patrick. They click instantly, in the way that you hope to do when you haven't yet found true love (or have lost it, for that matter). I felt their immediate connection, and found their spark to be rather sweet, despite knowing that Annie is in no position to date at this point, which led me to route for them to get together. Her clumsiness only adds to her character, and you begin to see what perhaps Patrick has seen.
Patrick, we learn as soon as he enters the narrative, is quite possibly the sweetest guy that there is. Of course, their meet cute is terribly timed, with Annie only just beginning to find herself and get over her ex almost-husband, but it doesn't matter. The pair's platonic relationship begins to blossom, and they find themselves making a crazy drunken decision to take Annie and Alexander's honeymoon together, as friends; it is in Australia that we see their relationship really begin to flourish. I absolutely adored the way that he looks after her throughout, from simple smiles, to the brush of a hand. My soppy, romantic imagination lives for scenes likee these, the will they-won't they, and Laura Jane certainly brings that to the table; I could read it all day long...and I did.
With everyone else seeing their connection, it appears that the only people who don't see it is them. Laura's ability to write what we would all have been thinking is fantastic too; I laughed out loud many times, particularly as they experience some embarrassing moments, and I know that I would likely have reacted in the exact same way. I definitely saw similarities between myself and Annie, particularly in her inability to voice her opinions and feelings to begin with, but also in the contrast of her naivety and strength.
Given that the honeymoon is set in luxury accommodation, setting the scene was important, and again, was very successfully created. I felt the sun on my face, heard the sea and sensed her relaxed state as she made her way across the world. When there was tension, I felt uptight; when there were jokes and giggles, I laughed. his book had everything that I'd hope for in a contemporary romance novel, and it was fluent enough to prevent me from putting the book down. As someone with a rather short attention span, there are few books that I can do this with; the chapters are just the right length to read only one, or three at a time.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who daydreams of the perfect 'will they-won't they' love story, with twists and little surprises popping up throughout. It is a wonderfully, light 'beach read' that will have you carrying your book or kindle wherever you go.