Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Longest Holiday by Paige Toon

3.5 Star

To say Laura is unlucky in love is an understatement. Her first boyfriend died in a horrific accident, and now she's just discovered that her husband of six months has been hiding a terrible secret. Devastated and unwilling to face reality, she escapes on a girls' holiday to Key West with her best friend Marty. But a deep and instant attraction to a sexy Cuban scuba diver takes her completely by surprise. When her two weeks in the sun come to an end, Laura doesn't want to go home again. But she can't run from real life forever. Can she?

Rebecca - 3.5 Star

Laura has been married to Matthew, the man of her dreams, for only seven months when she finds out he cheated on her on the night of his stag do. Devastated, two of her friends whisk her away to Florida’s Key West for a holiday and to escape her situation back home. There she meets a gorgeous diving instructor Leo, who serves as a distraction but as the holiday draws to a close Laura has to decide what to do about her marriage and whether to go home or not.

I’ve not read any books by Paige Toon before but I understand she has a large following of loyal readers and I can see why; she spins a good yarn. Of the large pile of books sitting on my shelf since I arrived in Canada, this one appealed the most and I picked it up first. Maybe it’s because the heroine is English like myself but more likely it’s that I, too, have recently got married and so with weddings fresh on my mind Laura’s predicament resonated. Seriously, what would you do if that bombshell had dropped on you? As the story unfolds you get drawn into Laura’s world and all her friends and family’s reactions to what has happened. It kept me reading. 

I liked Laura; I thought she was a good mixture of heart broken, brave, feisty and savvy and as the reader you really rooted for her. Leo, however, I was less enamoured with. I found him two dimensional and frankly dull although he was meant to have a past that made him moody and unpredictable. Other characters were better drawn, I thought. I particularly liked that Matthew, Laura’s husband, is not a bad man; he actually comes across as quite decent, but he made an awful mistake, and this dilemma is what Laura wrestles with. The Key West backdrop to the story is enticing, clearly the author has been there and managed to give me a real sense of the place, making me want to book a spring break holiday there immediately.

Aside from my issues with Leo, the main drawback for me with The Longest Holiday is that Toon relies too heavily on clichés. Leo has ‘movie star good looks’ (couldn’t he just be good looking?) and ‘doesn’t do’ love (really?). Laura runs a charity, which seemed just a little too virtuous to be true. I also got bored of hearing how many glasses of wine, cocktails or beers everyone was drinking. The lead characters all seemed to have an alcohol problem! I’m not sure if Toon was trying to make her characters seem cooler and wilder, or trying to signal what a rough time they were having, but I think she should have confidence in her story telling abilities and tone this down and the clichés.

The Longest Holiday was a great holiday read despite a few annoyances: would I read another book by Paige Toon? Probably.

Thank you to Simon and Schuster for our review copy. All opinions are our own. 

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