ALL SHE WANTED WAS A LOVE SHE COULD BELIEVE IN.
Jessie Martin believes that when it comes to love there are three types of people: the skimmers, the bottom dwellers and the ones who dive for pearls. Jessie is a pearl diver. She had thought her husband William was a pearl diver too. But when William leaves her for a younger woman, it’s not just Jessie’s heart that is broken, her ability to trust is shattered too.
Refusing to retire from the battlefield of life, Jessie resolves to put her heartache behind her. She doesn’t want to be that woman who was too scared to love again. There has to be another pearl diver out there; all she has to do is find him.
When fate brings handsome flower seller Owen Phillips into her life, Jessie believes he may be the one but is her fragile trust about to be shattered all over again?
The Flower Seller is a warm, engaging read about love, deceit, betrayal and hope.
It had been her daughter Hannah’s idea to put an advert in the Abbeyleigh Gazette. ‘It’s time to take yourself out of your comfort zone, Mum. Why don’t you get Anne to give you a hand with the ad?’
Sucked into the vortex of her daughter’s enthusiasm, Jessie had agreed before she could talk herself out of it.
‘So, what have you got so far?’ Anne had asked over margaritas in Spike’s Bar.
‘Newly single brunette, slim, attractive, early forties, non-smoker, good sense of humour, would like to meet man thirties/forties for friendship and maybe more,’ Jessie read aloud.
Anne pretended to fall asleep and Jessie slapped her arm.
‘Bit dull, sweetie!’ Anne said with a smile. ‘For starters, you should put early thirties. Everyone knocks a few years off. And do you really want to say slim? It’s practically shorthand for flat-chested and you’re not. How about “great figure” instead?’
‘That’s a bit conceited, isn’t it?’
Anne threw her a look. ‘It’s an advert, Jessie. You’re meant to be selling yourself.’
‘Blimey! I’ll just get some fishnets and a red light, shall I?’
‘You know what I mean. You should put something in there about being outgoing. That usually leads to some interesting propositions.’
‘But I’m not outgoing,’ Jessie said.
‘For goodness’ sake, outgoing just means you’re up for a bit of fun. I’m not suggesting for a moment that you put “open-minded”. Now that would lead to some replies that would make your hair stand on end. And obviously your WLTM has to be a man in his late twenties or early thirties.’
‘Has to be? This is my advert, remember? Not yours!’
Anne smirked. ‘So you’d prefer “Recently dumped flat-chested brunette, early forties, lives life with the handbrake on, would like to meet man forties/fifties for visits to the library”?’
‘I’d prefer not to be doing it at all.’
Anne squeezed her hand. ‘I know, sweetie. And you can stick another pin in your effigy of William when you get home but right now we need to get you back out there before life passes you by.’
Jessie and husband William work in the same law practice. Jessie gave up her career when daughter Hannah was born but returned to work later to pursue her dream of becoming a partner in the firm. Hannah is now at university and it is apparent Jessie and William are going through a difficult time in their marriage. Work pressures, getting Hannah settled in uni, the unexpected death of William’s father, all of these make their contributions. However the biggest problem is that these two once very much in love people have lost the ability to communicate with each other. Then just before their wedding anniversary is due William drops a bombshell – he wants out of their marriage because he has met someone else. Stunned by this revelation, Jessie at first thinks it’s someone from work. But the news is even worse when William reveals it’s a 24 year old hairdresser called Chelsea. Jessie knows William is a strong, arrogant individual, someone who already has a partnership under his belt. In the past these traits have been kept for his court room appearances but now she finds them turned on her as he tries to persuade her on a 50:50 split of their home, The Lodge. Jessie refuses to budge. She has loved and nurtured this house since they bought it why should she give it up so her husband can buy his new girlfriend the house she wants?
Realising divorce is inevitable Jessie, persuaded by Hannah, joins a dating agency. Her first date invites her to a wedding evening do where she meets the much younger Owen Phillips. Owen is calm, mature for his years and supportive. He seems to be just what Jessie needs in her currently turbulent life. But is he too good to be true?
Written against the backdrop of the market down of Abbeyleigh this had a slight feel of ITV’s Dr Foster about it. Jessie was a great character determined not to let William ride roughshod over her with his demands to sell the house and have a fifty:fifty split. She fights back by hiring a smart lawyer and turning the whole thing around. William suddenly realises where money is concerned he’s destined to be the loser if he can’t make his demands more realistic.
Chelsea put in a few appearances but didn’t have a big supporting role . However, from the glimpses we had of her it was clear she was putting a lot of pressure on William with her demands for a house and a big wedding. And as for Owen, well…you’ll have to read The Flower Seller to discover how things play out between him and Jessie.
The Flower Seller is so well written it’s difficult to believe that this is a debut novel. Ellie Holmes has created some wonderfully memorable characters in this very thought provoking and unputdownable read. Having experienced divorce I can honestly say what happens between Jessie and William feels incredibly real. A brilliant piece of storytelling.
And now I’m really looking forward to Ellie’s next book.
I would like to thank Brook Cottage Books for the complimentary copy of The Flower Seller in exchange for an honest review.
ABOUT ELLIE HOLMES
Ellie Holmes writes commercial women’s fiction and romantic suspense. She takes her inspiration from the beautiful Essex countryside and the sublime Cornish coast. The Flower Seller is Ellie’s first full-length novel. Ellie is a member of the Alliance of Independent Authors and the Romantic Novelists’ Association. To find out more please visit http://www.ellieholmesauthor.com
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