The Little Shop of Hopes and Dreams- Fiona Harper

The Little Shop of Hopes and Dreams

What they say: Nicole Harrison is planning the proposal of the century. Too bad it’s not her own Nicole, a born organiser and true romantic, has created her dream job when she sets up the Hopes & Dreams proposal agency – staging YouTube worthy proposals… until she’s hired to plan a proposal by gorgeous photographer Alex Black’s girlfriend. Alex is the New Year’s kiss that Nicole hasn’t been able to forget – and now she’s planning his wedding to someone else! But if she lets herself fall for Alex’s charms, her reputation and business will be ruined before it’s even got off the ground! Suddenly, the girl who’s always prepared is at a loss… and falling head over heels.’

I saw this book a few months ago and was quite taken by the cover. I went into the book blind, so based it solely on cover, not even on Amazon’s ‘look inside’ option. Maybe it was just the book, maybe not, but it worked out well … We meet a slightly tipsy Nicole and her two friends, out on New Year’s Eve, at a fancy dress ‘do.’ Nicole is so drunk that she teeters over to a guy she’s never met before (Alex) and kisses him but then basically lets him get away. Fast-forward to ten months on and Nicole, whose job is as a proposal planner, is hired by Saffron, an IT girl-about –town- type of girl, who is out to cement her relationship with Alex so that she can show everyone that she’s settled down. Even though I hadn’t read the blurb for this, I knew where it was going, not a bad thing at all. In fact, when Nicole was about to find out who the husband to be that she had to talk to was, I was thinking ‘here we go, here we go,’ brilliant! Off we went then, at a nice pace- with the satisfaction of a leisurely stroll, but the happenings of something so much more. My only problem with the book came on meeting Alex’s girlfriend. Saffron started out so well, apologizing for making an entrance as she sometimes forgets that there isn’t a crowd around. This told me that there was much more to her than met the eye, that she was just playing her expected role, but that ultimately there’d be more to her than just a socialite dating the guy that Nicole has feelings for. The problem was that Saffron quickly reverted to type-late for meetings, ignoring what Nicole hinted that Alex would like, fully into how she was portrayed. I would have loved the slightest bit more contrast between ‘real’ and ‘public’ Saffron. This was my issue but a fairly big one as it made it more likely that Nicole was to be the one. Saying that, the other characters were brilliant! I warmed to Nicole quicker than I’ve warmed to any character ever! The whole story centred around her wanting to live up to people’s expectations and it was done so well that I just wanted to hug her. She was funny, ditzy yet intelligent and always thinking of her friends. Her friends, Mia and Peggy were also done brilliantly. Two opposites, they never felt clichéd as even when they were showing their main attributes, they put views across that were very unbiased and made sense to us, the readers. Alex was another nicely balanced character, a good mix of good and bad, if you will. The story was kept going by Nicole not wanting to let the business and her friends who were investors in it, down. Made total sense. The narrative switched from Nicole to Alex and helped us immensely, as it showed us who they both were and put out their issues. The chemistry between Alex and Nicole was great, as were the scenarios put before them. All in all, a lovely, satisfying read, that I happily ate up, smiling a lot of the way. The descriptions were brilliantly written, the characters flashed in front of my face as I read and I could picture every single place they went to. I would fully recommend this, not just as a Christmas read- the season is actually more of an aside- but just as a nice little gem of a book that’ll make you do that little nod at the end. You know the one- the ‘ good stuff’ nod. Happy out;) Rating: 4.5/5

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