My One True North by Milly Johnson

Are Laurie and Pete on course for a happy-ever-after?

Milly Johnson is one of my favourite romance authors and so I’m always excited to get a sneak preview of her latest romance.

Last year’s offering, The Magnificent Mrs Mayhew, about a wronged politician’s wife, was a warm, witty, welcome relief to all the real-life political shenanigans going on at the time.

This time, she tackles a far more serious theme, as both the hero and heroine in My One True North come to terms with the grief of tragically losing their partners. They meet at a local support group, and their feeling of friendship soon turn to something deeper.

As the narrative progresses, we learn that neither Laurie nor Pete’s respective relationships with  fiance Alex  and wife Tara, were wholly happy. It makes their grief all the more poignant that they are struggling with feelings of guilt, anxiety and betrayal, too.

Secrets are gradually as revealed and the past catches up, we are left to ask just who was betraying who in this tangled tale of love gone wrong.

But it’s not all about heartbreak. Likable lawyer Laurie, and Pete, a heroic fireman, are backed up by a cast of warm, funny characters. There are Molly and Pavitar, who run the support group, and fellow members Yvonne, Maurice and Sharon who have respectively lost their husband, wife and dog. Pete’s twin Griff offers a solid shoulder for him to cry on while Laurie’s friend Bella comes good.

Subplots, too, keep the narrative from becoming too morbid as Pete tackles the problem of his widowed father’s new, dislikable partner, and tries to bat off unwelcome attention from his late wife’s sister. Meanwhile Laurie faces up to Alex’s demanding parents and repairs her broken friendship with Bella.

Death is a difficult subject in a romantic novel, but Milly Johnson has the ability to make you laugh through your tears with humorous dialogue, a pacy narrative and characters you’ll fall in love with as they fall in love with each other.

Published by Simon & Schuster on March 5

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