I loved this book, but I’ll be absolutely honest; for the first few pages I really didn’t think I was going to like its main character, beautiful, successful Vivienne Shrager, at all. Her life was just perfect – and didn’t she know it!
Page one: ‘Vivienne Shrager stretched luxuriously, her taut, lithe body unravelling its impressive length from the contours of sleep…’
Page three: ‘Throwing back the pale-blue striped duvet, Vivi stood as tall as her willowy five foot nine inches allowed… since ending the intense pre-marathon training, her body had softened slightly, making it more feminine and curvy and way sexier.’
Naturally, Vivi also has a stunning London flat, a rich ‘dream-boat’ of a boyfriend, and on this, her 27th birthday, is off to meet her equally glam girlfriends for a celebratory lunch at a posh Chelsea restaurant. And just to put the tin lid on things, Vivi was ‘by anyone’s standards, a strikingly lovely young woman. With almond-shaped eyes, blue as a summer sky, and a full sloppy mouth… her complexion was smooth and olive, her cheekbones high, and her light-brown hair was a wayward riot of curls that fell about her face and neck…’
Yikes! Put a sock in it, I thought.
But Susan Lewis, the author of this riveting and emotional domestic drama, knows exactly what she is doing; within just a few more pages Vivi’s perfect life is shattered. At her lovely birthday lunch, she suddenly and dramatically collapses.
Vivi’s collapse happens very early in this book, so it’s not a spoiler to tell you that out of the blue she’s had a serious, almost fatal heart attack. At that moment, her whole life changes. She is so frail, her heart so damaged, that she has to leave her job, friends and flat and return to live with her mother Gina, in the small seaside town where she grew up.
And now the real story begins.
Reduced by illness, Vivi is determined to uncover the secrets of her mother’s shadowy past. Who IS her real father? Why had Gina broken up with Vivi’s beloved stepdad? Her frailty forces her to stay at home, and she puts all her restless energy into digging into her family history.
Why does her mother want to keep her away from nearby Deerwood Farm, and the Raynor family? As she probes, Vivi becomes close to Shelley Raynor, the farm’s owner, and deeply attracted to Shelley’s son, Josh. It becomes clear that the history of both families is secretly entwined.
This is an engrossing story, full of family drama, secrets and lies, passion and romance. Most of all it takes us through Vivi’s desperate wait for her heart transplant. Throughout her own illness, she becomes passionate in her quest to ensure that not only she, but her fellow heart patients, are granted a second chance at life.
You will need tissues handy. This enthralling read balances hope and love with illness and tragedy. But it’s an inspirational story. Judy ended up loving Vivi – and so did I.