Book Review: The Bookshop of Second Chances by Jackie Fraser

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Genre: Women’s fiction
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: May 4th, 2021
Pages: 448, trade paperback
Source: NetGalley

A woman desperate to turn a new page heads to the Scottish coast and finds herself locked in a battle of wills with an infuriatingly handsome bookseller in this utterly heartwarming debut, perfect for readers of Evvie Drake Starts Over.

Thea Mottram is having a bad month. Her husband of nearly twenty years has just left her for one of her friends, and she is let go from her office job–on Valentine’s Day, of all days. Bewildered and completely lost, Thea doesn’t know what to do. But when she learns that a distant great uncle in Scotland has passed away, leaving her his home and a hefty antique book collection, she decides to leave Sussex for a few weeks. Escaping to a small coastal town where no one knows her seems to be exactly what she needs.

Almost instantly, Thea becomes enamored with the quaint cottage, comforted by its cozy rooms and shaggy, tulip-covered lawn. The locals in nearby Baldochrie are just as warm, quirky, and inviting. The only person she can’t seem to win over is bookshop owner Edward Maltravers, to whom she hopes to sell her uncle’s antique novel collection. His gruff attitude–fueled by an infamous, long-standing feud with his brother, a local lord–tests Thea’s patience. But bickering with Edward proves oddly refreshing and exciting, leading Thea to develop feelings she hasn’t felt in a long time. As she follows a thrilling yet terrifying impulse to stay in Scotland indefinitely, Thea realizes that her new life may quickly become just as complicated as the one she was running from.

Thea goes North, and discovers that sometimes, a book CAN be judged by its cover in Jackie Fraser’s The Bookshop of Second Chances.

Thea’s marriage has dissolved after she discovers her husband has been cheating on her with a family friend. Luckily, she has just inherited her Scottish uncle’s property. She goes up to sort the estate, and decides to stay for a bit and figure out what she wants next. She meets the local curmudgeon, who also owns a secondhand bookshop, when he comes to purchase some books and revalue her uncle’s collection. Thea applies for a job with him, and we see Thea building a new life in the North.

Thea has a good voice, and it’s refreshing to see a middle-aged heroine who isn’t completely hapless and hopeless. Her reactions are what you’d expect from someone in her situation, and she doesn’t wall herself off from others while she grieves her dead marriage.

Now, her love interest and boss, Edward, is a bit lacking in several areas. He and his brother seem to be stuck in adolescence, and I struggled to see what Thea saw in him. He’s rude and the fact that he kept sleeping with his brother’s exes just to get at him would have been enough to put me off.

Somehow, though, I was rooting for Thea and if Edward is her choice, well, at least she’s moving forward. Moderately recommended for lovers of tatty bookshops, irascible Scots, and second chances.

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