Today dear readers I am reviewing Art and Soul (Published By Goldcrest Books International Ltd 23rd April 2020) By Claire Huston. A big thank you to the author for sending me a copy to review, always appreciated.
Art and Soul
There’s no problem Becky Watson can’t fix. Except her own love life…
Struggling single mother Becky Watson longs to revive her career as a life-fixer, working miracles to solve her clients’ problems, no matter how big or small. Since the birth of her two-year-old son she has been stuck preventing wedding fiascos for the richest and rudest residents of the Comptons, a charming, leafy area of southern England known for its artistic heritage.
So when semi-reclusive local artist Charlie Handren reluctantly hires Becky to fix his six-year creative slump, she’s delighted to set him up with a come-back exhibition and Rachel Stone, the woman of his dreams.
Though they get off to a rocky start, Becky and Charlie soon become close. But as the beautiful Rachel becomes Charlie’s muse, Becky is forced to wonder: will giving Charlie everything he wants mean giving up her own happily ever after?
A heart-warming romance about second chances perfect for fans of Jill Mansell, Phillipa Ashley and Cathy Kelly.
About The Author
Claire Huston lives in Warwickshire with her husband and two children. Art and Soul is her first novel. A keen amateur baker, she enjoys making cakes, biscuits and brownies almost as much as eating them. You can find recipes for all the cakes mentioned in Art and Soul at www.clairehuston.co.uk along with over 100 other recipes. This is also where she talks about and reviews books.
Single mother Becky Watson has a unusual job. She is a life-fixer, doing everything within her power to help solve her clients’ problems. Kind of like a life coach but a lot more involved with a hint of meddling. Her next big problem or should I say client comes in the form of Charlie Handren, a local artist who is stuck in a creative slump. He is extremely reluctant to hire her at first, insisting he doesn’t need her help. But eventually Becky manages to worm her way in and suggests a come-back exhibition that will take his career to the next level alongside fixing his love life. However the course of true love never does run smoothly and Becky soon finds out how difficult this task proves to be, she needs to make this job a success. Becky’s financial problems are weighing up against her and this could be her last chance to avoid years of frustrating make-do work and money troubles. She could finally spend more time with Dylan and give him the best life possible. A lot is riding on this one job, she has to fix Charlie’s life even if that means ignoring her own growing feelings, she can’t let herself get too involved. Success in her job means appearing unflappable and as we learn about her past we start to understand why Becky hates surprises. This job gives her the biggest surprise of her life.
This story follows a third person narration. I enjoyed this as it allowed the reader to not only know what Becky was feeling but to also get a glimpse into Charlie’s head. Both characters will equally frustrate you dear reader, you will find yourself screaming at them and their stubbornness. First impressions are everything, or so I am told, you only get them once. Charlie first rang Becky when he was drunk as he needed the Dutch courage to take the next step in sorting his life out. Charlie’s sister Lauren emailed Becky with further details and Becky was more than willing to offer her services. When the two finally meet face to face it isn’t the stuff of fairy tales. Charlie appears scruffy with paint on his clothes and messy hair, he can’t wait to get rid of her. Whereas in comparison, Becky is smartly dressed and ready to do business. It becomes very clear from the start that Charlie does not want Becky meddling in his life but it’s obvious that he needs her. We soon learn that Charlie and his wife, Mel separated 6 years ago and he has an 18 year old daughter, Phoebe who takes an interest in Becky’s work and starts helping her out. It takes a while but soon Charlie starts to appreciate Becky’s hard work as signs of improvement begin to show.
Becky as a character was inspiring to read. How she is able to sort peoples’ lives out and limit damage control at weddings as her second job is amazing. All on top of being a single mother to her son Dylan. Her job as a life-fixer is to basically sort out peoples’ lives. She talks with the client about their life at the moment, any routines and such, then goes away to come up with a proposal of what she thinks can help improve their current situation. She is extremely involved. Phoebe and Lauren strongly believe that Becky can help Charlie which puts a ton of pressure on her to succeed. We watch her meddle and do everything she can to give Charlie’s career and life that much needed kick up the backside to get going again. Charlie doesn’t give Becky an easy time and is not a great conversationalist. Becky has to learn to read his nonverbal cues and do what she can to make things work. You can feel the frustration as you want Becky to succeed and wish Charlie would open up more. It keeps you hooked and intrigued about how this is all going to end. For better or worse? The tension between Becky and Charlie is intense. They have a love and hate relationship and get along more than they would care to admit.
Alongside relaunching his art career, Becky also works on sorting out Charlie’s love life. She learns that he is interested in Rachel Stone, the manager of the Coulson Gallery in town who instantly takes a dislike to Becky. The two characters clash and I found myself yelling at the page for Rachel to back off. You find yourself fully immersed in the characters’ world and feel a part of the story.
The story introduces a variety of interesting characters such as Ronnie who owns Sweet’s Cakes and is also Becky’s best friend. I loved spending time in Sweet’s Cakes. The heavenly smells of cinnamon, chocolate and freshly baked bread made my mouth water, it sounded delicious. I could spend hours in there having a natter over tea and cake with Ronnie and Becky. It felt safe and warm. I really want cake now.
I give Art and Soul By Claire Huston a Five out of Five paw rating.
Be prepared to have a lot of sweet treats to hand when reading this book dear reader as it will make you hungry. This is a story that will charm its way into your heart, give you a cup of tea and slice of cake before showing you some intriguing artwork. You fall in love with the characters, the scenery, pretty much everything about this delightful story. You will find yourself struggling to pull yourself away from the moment you begin reading, it pulls you in and you become reluctant to leave. It’s a romance with a dash of reality, things don’t always appear as they seem.
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