Not in Love with Love Lives
Love Lives - Josie Lloyd, Emlyn Rees
Member Name: Essexgirl2006
Love Lives - Josie Lloyd, Emlyn Rees
Advantages: Easy Reading
Disadvantages: Some characters are not as well developed as others.
Husband and wife authors Emlyn Rees and Josie Lloyd, as well as being published individually, have been writing together for a number of years. Love Lives is their fourth collaboration following on from Come Together, Come Again and The Boy Next Door. They have had two more books published since entitled We Are Family and The Three Day Rule. Their writing topics bring them under the genre of chick lit (or women's contemporary romantic fiction if you prefer!). Obviously a book entitled Love Lives is going to be about love but Lloyd and Rees also bring in relationships with family and friends to try and make the book different from a classic romance. Naturally, as with all good romantic fiction the path of true love does not run smooth and unfortunately this is quite a predictable romance as far as the ending is concerned but the journey there is entertaining enough.
The book is set in a Shoresby, a fictional, seemingly run down south coast seaside resort with its own Beachy Head style suicide spot known as Lost Soul's Point. As the book starts it has come to the end of the summer season in Shoresby, yet for a change something interesting is happening. Not only is someone renovating nearby Appleforth House after over a hundred years, but there is a documentary film crew in town to make a film about the area and in particular the myths and mysteries surrounding Lost Soul's Point.
In previous books Lloyd and Rees have given each character their own chapter, in this book they are mixed up and any character can appear next. The four main characters are:
Ned Spencer is a widowed single father who is working as an architect to restore Appleforth House, destroyed by its owner, Alexander Walpole, in 1871 after his daughter's death at Lost Soul's Point. After the tragic death of his wife, Ned has decided romance is not for him and has dedicated his life to his business and his young daughter.
Ellen is an ambitious film-maker with an equally ambitious boyfriend. She has been given a great opportunity while her boss is on maternity leave, which she wishes to make the most of. She is trying to make a documentary about the story behind the Walpole suicide and Lost Soul's Point. She is also intrigued by the stories surrounding other suicides in the area, in particular one concerning a young, local lad almost a year before.
Jimmy is 17 and lives with his step mum and step brother whilst his dad works abroad and his grandmother is in the local hospice. He thinks he might be in love with a local girl and on top of this he has to deal with the tragic suicide of his best friend Ryan at Lost Soul's Point the year before. It is hinted that there is more to this, and Jimmy's involvement, than it first appears.
Verity Driver is a talented, popular local girl who is unaware of Jimmy's existence not to mention how he feels about her. She is more worried about the pressure her mother is putting on her to perform at the local memorial concert for Ryan and her burgeoning relationship with the grown up and extremely cool Denny, owner of the local surf shop.
As filming for the documentary commences the lives of these four people become intertwined to varying degrees. There is a certain amount of will they/won't they going on, but nothing that would trouble anyone too much. In the background of the romance (or otherwise) is the research surrounding the Walpole suicide and the mystery surrounding Ryan's death. These subplots are interesting, but found they were dragged out a bit and subsequently hastily resolved at the end.
I think it is in the nature of books with several central characters that it can be quite disjointed. Fortunately in this case it is just at the beginning, once we have met the characters and the story has been established it makes for an easier read. I found the male characters are better developed and more complex than the female characters. Verity in particular seems a bit bland and undeveloped, as if they were just trying to even out the numbers by including her. The character led nature of the book didn't work on all levels for me. It seemed only the male characters had secrets and depth, the women characters were much more superficial. They were not pathetic or ditzy as in some chick lit type novels; they were smart women, who could be very real and relatable to with a little bit more effort. Knowing in the past that the authors wrote the character that relates to their own gender, I was disappointed with Josie Lloyd, if this is the case with this book.
In conclusion, this is a harmless romance, there is no deep meaning to be found within the pages, you will not learn anything about yourself, and you read this book because you want a light, easyish read for whatever reason. I don't think this is the best work of theirs that I have read (so far that honour goes to The Boy Next Door, but I have not read their last two books) and it has not and will not light up the literary sky. It is what is is, a romance aimed at the twenty- and thirty-something female market, and as far as that is concerned it does it as well if not slightly better than most of its peers.
The book is published by Random House, firstly in 2003. It has an RRP of £6.99 for the paperback edition. As it has been around a while, expect there to be good deals on the internet.
Summary: Not the best work from this husband and wife team.