Tuesday 29 August 2023

BLOG TOUR: Always By Your Side - Julie Haworth

When school teacher Rose loses her dream job at a London primary school, her self-confidence takes a knock. Worse still, her stockbroker fiancé, Ollie, sees it as the perfect opportunity for her to join his firm, which only adds to the feelings Rose has that their relationship might be coming to an end.
An unexpected phone call, and an elderly aunt who’s taken a fall, means Rose must drop everything – including Ollie - and return to Blossom Heath, the Sussex village she grew up in.
With no job to rush home to, Rose decides to stay in Blossom Heath for the Summer, trading London for the idyllic countryside. Here Rose finds herself reconnecting to the village life of her childhood in more ways than one, including falling head-over-heels for local farmer, Jake.
So when her London life comes calling, Rose is faced with an impossible choice… to return to the high-pressure life of her past, or embrace the joy of a new life in the country.

What did I think?

Oh I really enjoyed this!  It's an absolutely gorgeous heartwarming read that left me with a huge smile on my face.

I adored everything about the main character of Rose.  Rose is a marvellous teacher and it's no surprise that she has lost confidence in her ability with a demonic headmaster and a selfish fiancé constantly pecking away at her dream career.  Getting the call to look after her elderly Great Aunt Jean in an idyllic country village gives Rose the perspective she needs to find out what is really important to her.

Rose's fiancé Ollie is my idea of a nightmare partner.  He doesn't support Rose and thinks she's wasting her time teaching when she could be working in his firm, doing a meaningless job that she would hate.  Farmer Jake, on the other hand, shows Rose that the right man will be supportive and loving, without having to make huge gestures or buying expensive gifts.

Of course, the star of the show has to be Scout, the dog that Rose rescues.  Scout has a huge impact on Rose's life and helps her to make some difficult decisions.  I was on the edge of my seat when Rose and Scout's perfect relationship was threatened and I loved this tense addition to the story.

Julie Haworth very cleverly shows the stark contrast between town and country throughout the book; it's not just the pace of life, it's people, schools, jobs, homes and communities that are completely different.  As much as I would hate everyone knowing my business, I would much prefer to live in Blossom Heath than London.

Beautifully written, incredibly uplifting and completely heartwarming, Always By Your Side is a delightful debut novel and a worthy winner of the Romantic Novelists' Association Katie Fforde Debut Novel Of The Year 2023.

I received an ARC to read and review for the blog tour and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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