Day 11 of Sue Moorcroft’s blog tour for ‘Just For the Holidays’, and the tour bus stops at TWG! It feels like yesterday that I was reviewing Sue Moorcroft’s previous novel, and now look! On my stop today I will be sharing my review of JFTH, as well as an extract of the book. Hope you enjoy!
The #1 bestselling author returns for summer! Grab your sun hat, a cool glass of wine, and the only book you need on holiday…
In theory, nothing could be better than a summer spent basking in the French sun. That is, until you add in three teenagers, two love interests, one divorcing couple, and a very unexpected pregnancy.
Admittedly, this isn’t exactly the relaxing holiday Leah Beaumont was hoping for – but it’s the one she’s got. With her sister Michele’s family falling apart at the seams, it’s up to Leah to pick up the pieces and try to hold them all together.
But with a handsome helicopter pilot staying next door, Leah can’t help but think she might have a few distractions of her own to deal with…
What does TWG think?
Ohhhhhh my goodness me! I have so much to say about several of the characters in this book, yet I can’t put the world to rights regarding them just in case I give anything away -cries-. Put it this way, I was so close to tearing my hair out in frustration with a couple of the characters attitudes along the way, I am genuinely surprised that I have any hair left!
Leah is the singleton queen, well, that’s what she has always believed! For many years she has told herself that she doesn’t want to be held back in life because of a shoddy past relationship, but as time went on, Leah became even more stuck in that rut. I guess if you keep telling yourself something, you’ll end up believing it, right?
Michele, Leah’s sister is the complete opposite in terms of personality and lifestyle; she has the family, the children, and a life she thinks her sister wants. Their relationship, at first, struck me as a typical sibling relationship. However, it didn’t take me long to take sides with Leah as Michele started to annoy me very early on in the storyline.
The sisters went on a family holiday together to France, an idyllic break away before Leah started her new job. Ha. Ha. Right then. Holiday schmoliday. There was so much family drama throughout the entire holiday, I think good ol’ Jezza Kyle would have had a field day if they went on his show! Due to her sister’s questionable choices, Leah finds herself keeping tabs on teenagers, a holiday home, and a rather fetching neighbour.
I felt sorry for Leah a lot of the time as she was left to take the brunt of her sisters actions, as well as dealing with a rather emotional teenager who just wanted her mum. Whilst I fully understand that families are there to support one another, I was so annoyed at the way Leah was being taken for granted. Even when Michele became more involved in the storyline, I still found myself disliking her as she appeared somewhat fake. Well, I did end up liking her for a very short while near the end of the book, I’ve got to give her that much at least!
Don’t be fooled by the word ‘holiday’ in the title, it isn’t a plain sailing type of book like a holiday is supposed to be like. Sue Moorcroft’s novel is actually quite intense and covers a wide range of relatable topics, such as divorce, teenage drama, sister feuds, bad choices, unplanned pregnancy, complex relationships, career choices, and so on. Pretty much the things a lot of us would deal with on a daily basis, yet this has the bonus of a mighty fine gentleman to tickle your taste buds. Or anywhere else that might take your fancy!
I am rather impressed with what Moorcroft has achieved with her latest novel, she’s been able to cover so much without losing any of the momentum, AND has created some rather questionable and marmite characters. I truly think that a lot of readers will be able to relate to this storyline on so many levels, they may see a bit of themselves in Leah, or even Michele for that matter.
I thoroughly enjoyed JFTH, especially Moorcroft’s stunning descriptions of France, it really did feel as though I was there. Beautifully written.
Overall, JFTH kept me thoroughly entertained from start to finish. Unfortunately I did find Michele far too selfish and overpowering in the storyline, so the overall vibe of the book was jaded a little bit. However, Leah’s brilliant sense of humour, the teenagers naivety and joy, the complex topics, as well as the scenery (both male eye-candy and France), really did make this a book to remember.
Yet another emotive read from the uber talented, Sue Moorcroft, this book is NOT Just For the Holidays…it’s for every single day.
Thank you Avon.
The roomy kitchen was bright with colourful tiles and fabrics. Alister was attacking the shiny crust of a baguette and Leah realised guiltily that he must have been down to the boulangerie while she’d been lazing in the sun.
Natasha was already at the table, buttering chunks of bread, tutting as her knife made a hole, while Jordan stabbed at his phone with the intensity reserved by fifteen-year-olds for anything with a screen. ‘You’re coming kayaking with us, aren’t you?’ demanded Natasha.
‘Sounds fun.’ Leah washed her hands before opening the fridge in search of cheese and cold meats. She glanced at her brother-in-law. ‘Does Michele know kayaking’s on today’s schedule?’ It didn’t seem the obvious activity for a forty-three-year-old in the early stages of pregnancy.
Alister sawed energetically, his eyes fixed rigidly on the baguette through the lenses of his glasses. ‘Haven’t seen her this morning.’
‘I have,’ Natasha piped up. ‘She’s a bit under the weather so she’s going to stay here and rest. If the boats are two-person, can I be with you, Leah? Then it’ll be girls against boys.’
Jordan glanced up from his phone. ‘We’d spend all day waiting for you. It’ll be better if I go with Leah and you go with Dad.’
Natasha pointed an indignant butter knife. ‘I said Leah first. Just because Mum’s not here –’
‘Jordan, would you make the coffee, please?’ interrupted Alister, in his head-teacher voice that managed somehow to be both mild and authoritative. ‘Natasha, how many more slices?’
Leah followed Alister’s lead in distracting the kids from bickering. ‘We’ll take the advice of the hire staff regarding distribution of paddlers between kayaks, shall we?’ As they sat down at the refectory-style table and she sliced Munster cheese onto her bread Leah added, ‘I could eat so much of this that I wouldn’t fit in a kayak.’
Jordan grinned. ‘You do have the appetite of the average gorilla.’ The conversation loosened with laughter, though Leah’s thoughts were less than cheery.
Three days they’d been in Kirchhoffen. For two of them, Michele had managed to contrive that the family went out without her. So far nobody had openly questioned it but Leah knew the oddness of this behaviour wouldn’t bypass the kids for long.
When breakfast was over, she slipped out into the hall and up the wooden staircase, its open treads sweeping up between thick spindles to the first floor, then up again to the rooms tucked beneath the gabled roof. Michele and the children had rooms on the first floor; Alister had been allocated space at the top, where there was only his room and the games room.
By treading at the edges of each step Leah found she could glide almost silently to Michele’s quarters. Without ceremony, she thrust the door open.
Dressed only in pretty underclothes and a towel swathing her hair, Michele jumped guiltily, pressing a button on her phone. ‘Come in, won’t you?’ A yellow summer dress was laid out on top of her neatly made bed.
Leah closed the door behind her. ‘Do you need anything before we go out? Natasha says you’re under the weather.’
Michele lowered her voice. ‘You know I feel lumpy in the mornings.’ Her skin did look pale and waxy.
‘We can hang on until you feel well enough to come with us.’
Michelle belted on a blue robe and dropped her phone into its pocket. ‘I can’t go kayaking in my condition and I don’t want to tell the kids why yet.’ She unwound the towel and began to rub her hair.
‘We can do something less energetic.’
‘I’d hate to ruin things for them. I’ll put my feet up today, have a lovely dinner ready for when you come home, then spend the evening with the children.’ Michele began to brush her wet hair sleek against her head. She looked different without her curls. Harder.
Or was that just how she was, these days? Harder?
Although Michele picked up the hairdryer and paused, poised, as if to hint she had other things to do than chat, Leah meandered to the bedroom chair and plumped down into its depths. ‘It’s turned out to be a good thing that Alister’s here, with you having morning sickness. I know you wouldn’t have put on me to take the kids out all the time.’
Michele’s eyes glinted oddly. ‘Alister told me last night that I’m acting like a stranger so I suppose I might do anything. What do you think? Do you still know me?’
Leah’s sympathy warred with exasperation. ‘Of course I do. I just don’t really understand what’s going on with you.’
Blinking, Michele fidgeted with the hairdryer, dropping her gaze. ‘Maybe you should.’
Leah leaned forward and covered her sister’s hands to still her fretful movements. ‘But all our lives you’ve known what you wanted. To be a wife and mother with a home in a nice area and a sensible car to ferry your kids around in. Now you’re suddenly less cautious than I am.’
Michelle shrugged. ‘Your choices are just as carefully thought out as mine. It’s just that they’re all about how to avoid having kids or a husband who would stop you from indulging yourself with car races or stunt driving. Why shouldn’t I want my life to be all about me, sometimes?’
‘Because you gave that up to have children. Shell, even if you stop being Alister’s wife you can’t stop being a mother. You’re in a strange place but none of this is easy on Jordan and Natasha.’
Michele’s shoulders began to quake. ‘I know. I’m the worst mum in the world.’
Though aware she was being manipulated, Leah was unwilling to damn Michele’s hitherto conscientious parenting. ‘You’re absolutely not, or the kids wouldn’t be so keen to spend time with you.’ She jumped to her feet and assumed a bright tone and matching smile. ‘Look, take today for yourself. Put on your pretty dress and flake out in the garden. Read, paint your nails, snooze. There’s even a hot workman next door to watch. Then maybe you’ll be ready to go out with the family tomorrow.’