04 Mar The Life You Left Behind by Debbie Howells
A compelling story of a love lost, but never forgotten
I’m off to France on this blogtour, in the company Casey Cassidy, for what is going to prove to be an emotional roller coaster and sometimes bumpy ride.
For Casey is not visiting France on holiday – she is fleeing heartbreak.
Casey and Ben had only been together a year, after fate brought them together in an airport fiasco where Casey had forgotten her passport and Ben came to her rescue, a knight in shining armour.
He was everything she’d dreamed of in a man – clever, fun, good-looking, kind, and passionate about all manner of things, not least the conservation of the planet.
He’s the perfect balance to madcap Casey, a primary teacher who loves to party but also cares deeply about the environment.
Soon the two are inseparable – so what on earth has gone wrong to leave Casey alone and nursing a broken heart.
As she settles into the remote cottage in France loaned to her by a friend of a friend, and Casey reflects on the year she and Ben sent together, a heart-breakingly beautiful love story unfolds.
No wonder Casey is devastated at Ben’s leaving her – the big question is, will she ever get it over?
Maybe the discovery of an old diary chronicling another person’s heartbreak, the support of friends, both old and new, and the adoption of three stray cats will help Casey along her journey to healing. But will she ever be able to forgive Ben for leaving her, or learn to trust and love again?
I was so thrilled to be invited on the blogtour for this story, Debbie Howell’s first book with Boldwood Books. I know her best as a best-selling writer of domestic thriller noirs, so I was interested to see how she’d tackle her return to contemporary women’s fiction.
I can wholeheartedly say that this was a compelling and deeply satisfying read. One one level it’s a love story, but underneath it is so much more.
There is heartbreak along the way, and the author does not shirk away from tough, thought-provoking themes. Issues of loss, grief, betrayal and mental health are all here, portrayed with great sensitivity.
Balancing out the more challenging issues is the importance of friendship, of laughter and joy. Casey’s sister Polly, her UK friends Ellie, Suki and Kevin, and her new French friends Sylvie and Brad remind us that in the darkness in which Casey finds herself, stars still shine – and that one day, she, too, could shine again.
Environmental issues play a large part in the story – as someone who worries about the planet, I could sympathise with the seeming hopelessness of humanity ever getting to grips with the damage they’ve wrought. It makes for some challenging reading at times.
But the message is clear that for Casey, and for us, it’s not too late to change things. Ben may be gone, but with the right choices, she can go forward into a brighter, happier future where love will surely come round again.
About the Author
While working as long-haul cabin crew in her twenties, Debbie trained as a pilot and qualified as a flying instructor. But as the mother of two small children, she wanted a career she could fit around them and started a wedding flower business, Country Flowers. For thirteen years, Debbie created the natural, seasonal designs she became known for to venues throughout the South East.
It was towards the end of this time she started writing, in a notebook in the shade of her garden on her days off, self-publishing three women’s fiction novels, the third of which, Wildflowers, almost but not quite found her a literary agent.
Pursuing her dream of a traditional publishing deal, she went on to write her first psychological thriller, the Sunday Times bestseller, The Bones of You. Four more have followed including the e-book bestseller The Vow, but it’s another long-awaited dream come true that her women’s fiction novels have now found a home with Boldwood.
Follow her on Instagram @_debbiehowells
Find her on Facebook @debbiehowellswriter
Catch her on Twitter @debbie__howells
Visit her Bookbub profile here
Thank you to Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me on this #blogtour and to NetGalley and Boldwood Books for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review
Catch up with the rest of the blogtour through the links on the poster