On Dublin Street #2
Publication date: 7th May 2013
Reviewed by Lesley
Characters always make or break a book for me and there were two character related reasons why I loved every freaking minute of Down London Road. Firstly, Samantha Young made me dislike both the hero and heroine and I wasn't sure that I would ever be able to like them but as their story unfolded I completely changed my mind about them both and ended up really loving them. I'm pretty impressed by that. Secondly, Down London Road is a very Scottish book with very Scottish characters and I really, really loved that too. Most of the books I've read with Scottish characters in them are usually those pretty awful Highland-ish romances where the hero wears a kilt and says "I doona ken lassie" about four billion times. Those books are not written by real Scottish people and believe me it shows. As a fellow Scot Down London Road felt very, very real to me.
I loved the complexities of Jo's character. Jo has brought up her younger brother Cole ensuring he doesn't want for anything the way she did growing up. She also puts up with and still cares for her alcoholic mother and protects Cole from the cruel outbursts her drunken mother still lashes out with. So this caring, protective and responsible woman is so at odds from the gold digger Jo that we initially meet. I didn't really like her much at the start, any woman who is prepared to smoother her own personality to get and keep a guy is not much of a heroine as far as I'm concerned. Or so I thought. Like most people Jo faced I judged her too before I realised that she's using the only thing she thinks she has in her favour- her looks, to snare a wealthy guy who can look after her. Despite being stunning looking her self confidence is completely nonexistent. Deep down she genuinely believes that she's not smart enough or interesting enough to get or keep a guy. It was only really when little bits of her terrible upbringing came to light that I finally understood the reasons for Jo's heart breaking insecurities and with that, my opinion of her completely changed.
When Cam the very, very yummy good looking new bartender initially acts like a complete idiot and decides that Jo is a gold digging thicko I didn't appreciate his judgemental arse much either. It took me a while to change my mind about him. When Jo doesn't set him straight and let's him continue to think she's really like that I honestly wanted to scream. I ended up completely caught up in their enemies to friends to lovers journey and I'm pretty sure I'll not get the changing room sex scene out of my brain for a long time, phew it was good!
Although I loved the romance Down London Road is more than just a good contemporary romance, I know it sounds a bit "X factor-ish" but it really was a journey. A realistic, heart breakingly good journey as Jo realises her family isn't just her and Cole it's Cam, Joss and Braiden, Uncle Mick and Olivia, Ellie and Adam, Elodie, Clark and Hannah too. Talk about a book putting you through the emotional wringer. Down London Road had me ranging from being as disapproving as an ancient maiden aunt, raging mad on poor Jo's behalf, swooning like a Victorian lady, really, really squirmy hot under the collar and crying like a freaking baby with tears and snot the lot! Definitely a sign of an amazing book and one of my favourites of 2013 so far.
Favourite quote (which still makes me sniff and get all emotional):
"Be Caledonia." Cam grinned, love in his eyes for the man who was his Dad. "He said that Caledonia wasn't a name we'd given to our land, to Scotland, but the name the Romans had...
You know, the world will always try to make you into who it wants to be. People, time events, they'll all try to carve away at you and make you think you don't know who you are. But it doesn't matter who they try to make you, or what name they give you. If you stay true, you can chip off all their machinations and you're still you underneath it all. Be Caledonia. It might be the name someone else gave the land, but it didn't change the land. Better yet, we embraced the name, keeping it but never changing it. Be Caledonia."