Owner of a Lonely Heart, a review by Joanna

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Owner of a Lonely Heart

Eva Carter

416 pages

Published July 7, 2022


Every time I think of this book, I hear the crunchy guitar that opens Yes’s biggest hit – and the lyrics are quite appropriate too. I suspect this is not an accident. This was a charming contemporary story set in Bristol, England,  about three lost people finding second chances. I was invited to read it by the publisher, having enjoyed last year’s How To Save a Life, and while this turned out to be much more romance-oriented than that was, I was won over by the characters – especially adorable terrier Bear. (Who doesn’t love a book featuring a cute dog!)

Gemma is a 32 year old illustrator still coming to terms with the death of her husband from cancer. She volunteers at her local paediatric oncology treatment centre, where she meets Casey, only child of neurotic mother Angelica. Casey has only just met her father, good-looking but superficial Dan, who offered her somewhere to stay in Bristol for her month of specialised therapy for her brain tumour. Gemma is initially appalled that Dan chose to stay out of his daughter’s life for 12 years, but as she gets to know him, she finds herself falling for him, and sparky but vulnerable Casey, but will the secrets they are keeping from each other come between them?

As my bookish friends can probably tell, I actively avoid romance novels – I don’t mind a love-story subplot, but dislike the couple getting together being the main point of the book. This does follow a fairly standard girl-meets-boy story arc, but the situation Gemma and Dan find themselves was unique and interesting enough to keep me reading, even if I rolled my eyes a bit at the insta-love: Dan is a complete emotional duckwit, but Gemma and Casey manage to uncover the decent guy underneath. This is told from all three POVs, with Casey’s being my favourite. Her mother was a great “love-to-hate” character but even she gained my sympathy the more we learn about her experiences.

I enjoyed all the minor characters like best friend Vijay and Gemma’s wise mother-in-law, and the Bristol setting. The author clearly does her research on the medical aspects – she mentions interviewing young people undergoing cancer treatment to get the details right, and it pays off in believability. While the plot was predictable, you don’t want it to go any other way, and even this old curmudgeon likes a happy ending. 4.5 rounded down for the present tense. Thanks to NetGalley and Pan MacMillan for the ARC.

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