Is This Love?
It’s good to check in with British romance every now and again, not only to catch up with their version of English slang, but also to wallow in their famous reserve and low-key but heart-felt sentimentality. Moorcroft displays a lot of what’s best about British romance in this novel of love blooming in a small village.
Tamara Rix and her parents are stunned when Jed Cassius shows up at Tamara’s parents’ front door. Jed had been the teenage boyfriend of her older sister Lyddie when Lyddie was hit by a car and the family’s life had changed. Once a vibrant young teen, after the accident, Lyddie’s development stagnated so that she mentally became a child.
Jed is stunned to see the changes in Lyddie which makes his visit doubly poignant since he is hoping to bring a kind of closure to the family. On his deathbed, Jed’s father confessed that he’s the one who hit Lyddie and fled the scene. His dying wish is for Jed to tell Lyddie’s parents and offer monetary compensation as penance.
Cheryl, Lyddie’s mom, is furious and refuses to consider accepting the money while Sean, Lyddie’s father, is more forgiving. As the family struggles with whether to take the money or not, Jed offers Tamara a job as a private yoga instructor for his boss’ rich, spoiled wife, who’s having problems with her leg after a fall off a balcony.
Amid the daily drama of trying to live her own life and run her yoga business as well as helping her mother take care of her adult-sized yet childlike sister, Tamara remembers her childhood crush on Jed, and they start dating. But the caprices of his wealthy employer and the machinations of the employer’s wife nearly upset their courtship.
In the U. S. Tamara would be a simmering character brimming over with resentment toward her sister and parents for truncating her life. She’d be plagued with guilt for wanting her sister’s old boyfriend and regretful of her acrimonious relationship with her sister before the accident.
However, the British version is a kinder, gentler person, who loves her older sister and doesn’t begrudge the time Lyddie demands from her. Tamara has come to terms with the accident and what she perceives to be her part in it. She is just a normal young woman trying to live independently while helping her parents with Lyddie’s care.
Tamara’s level-headed approach to life from her sister’s care to dealing with the louts in the local pub make her the quintessential best friend. Oddly, that’s the one thing missing in Tamara’s life – a good girl friend or two. While she starts off with a boyfriend with whom she amicably parts early on, for all her portrayal as an everywoman, Tamara’s lack of a best friend is puzzling especially as she lives in a small town surrounded by people with whom she grew up.
Jed, on the other hand, has a friend who also works for the wealthy couple. Considering that after Lyddie’s accident, Jed’s family moved to London where the family imploded and Jed lived on the street for a while, readers would expect him to be the friendless drifter instead of the stable guy he is.
But Jed is a wonderful hero because he’s pulled himself up and made his life a success despite the adversity in it. He goes after what he wants, but isn’t ruthless about it. In fact, he will steal readers’ hearts as he takes Tamara for a spa day and woos her properly.
I’d never heard of Moorcroft before reading this book, but the combination of skillful writing with its gentle prose and endearing characters make her a chick lit author I’d happily read again.