THE ONE SAVING GRACE Julie Houston
THE ONE SAVING GRACE Julie Houston
Genre: Contemporary romance
Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews
I hadn’t read the first book, but though this one follows on from that involving the same characters, its a complete standalone and where needed the history is given so that was fine.
Poor Harriet, just when everything was picking up and life was looking easy, financially better with Nick’s business going great, she finds she’s pregnant – with twins. They already have Lib who’s 17, Kit who’s 15 and baby of the family 7 year old India and now at almost 40 its time for babies once more. Harriet’s best friend Grace is finally pregnant too – she thought she was infertile but after her husband left her she fell in love again, with 24 year old Sebastian. At 15 years his senior his mother wasn’t best pleased they got together. She’s Nick’s partner’s wife, and has bad history with Grace and Harriet from school, and tried for a fling with Nick in the last book. Still with me? Well, enjoy as there’s a bittersweet story to come, more tangled relationships, and a mix of humour and pathos that had me laughing one moment and on the edge of tears the next…I used to help at primary school when my kids were there, and one of the teachers said to me one day that she was very careful when she spoke to parents, as so often the dad of one was living with the mother of another child in the same class, and then the next week it could be all change again!!
Its been great having a novel involving older characters – too often it seems only the under 25’s are allowed to have romance and once past that age we’re dead to it! Not so, and I do love books like these that bring in so much reality of life, experience of being older and feel like events I’ve either had myself or know friends who have lived it. Its kind of easy to see how easily Harriet, staunchly anti cheating, fell into an affair with the delicious Alex. She’s feeling vulnerable, older, and unattractive after the birth of the twins, when she spends the day in practical food and milk stained comfy clothes, and there’s barely time to brush her hair never mind full make up and pressed, flattering outfits. With five kids and a home to look after, and a husband who’s abroad more than at home, its easy to see how seductive Alex came along just as she needed a boost. She pushes him away at first then kids herself that its just a kiss, but its not long before she’s in the full throes of an affair and we just know its all going to end badly. Then there’s Grace, living just down the lane with a two month old, much wanted baby, but in a run down farmhouse that she and Sebastian were going to do up – at the moment though its almost derelict, and add on that she’s suffering from post natal depression, though no-one yet recognises it and Sebastian is out of his depth. His mother, the well pressed and strong minded Amanda comes along, and takes over care of baby Jonty. Grace goes from bad to worse, and eventually they move into Amanda’s home. It seems as though this gives Sebastian a reprieve, Amanda takes over the baby and Grace feels even more helpless. Usually Harriet would be there helping, and she’d have got her the help she desperately needs, but but she’s engrossed in her personal life and doesn’t realise just how bad things have got until they reach crisis point. The two friends who share everything are now so far apart they can’t see what’s happening to the other.
We can see from the outside just how its all going to fall apart, and it looks a simple story but its anything but that. The friendships encompass others, there’s the school gate bitchiness, the dinner party chaos, Nick’s mother’s wedding to a Lord, which has sent her off in delusions of grandeur…Harriet always felt she wasn’t seen as good enough for Nick by Sylvia and now she’s marrying Nick’s ex girlfriend’s father, and of course as Anna will be at the wedding Harriet wants to look good. There was a lot of acrimony when Nick left Anna, even though they were still young, and Anna’s always resented Harriet – now she’s a Countess or some such and Harriet still feels inside like the council house girl she was ( yep – I was too, and somehow that feeling always stays. People aren’t openly sneering but there’s a lot of prejudiced discrimination about what sot of person you are).
Its a read that takes you on a journey, covers a timespan of maybe a year – 18 months or so, and is full of drama and tears, laughter and humour. Just when you’re feeling really sad something happens that’s funny, and just when you think things can’t get worse they they do, with events that ought to have been foreseen but weren’t. It all culminates with a bang, with revelations all round and some real surprises about some of the events, and is a crashing finish. Its got the perfect ending for me, and shows how strong true love can be.
Stars: Five, a real treat, a story full of reality and sadness and yet tempered with genuine humour to lighten it.
Arc supplied by author