I was so pleased when Avon Books got in touch with me to offer me this book to read – they’ve sent me some corkers over the last couple of years and this was such a good read and perfect for the summer.

Bella Osborne – “The Promise of Summer”

(13 June 2021 – NetGalley)

We’re introduced to flower shop owner Kim and her assistant Ruby. Kim lost her husband seven years ago and has built up her life again, Ruby’s getting sick of dating, has lost her mum quite recently and is looking for alternative ways of making a family. They have their regular customers, Adrian, who buys his wife roses once a week, Dean, who relies on Ruby to write the cards for his fast-track romance bouquets and a selection of bridezillas and the like, and I really liked how the work of the florists was portrayed in detail.

When Ruby goes on a bit of a mission to London, she’s derailed when her seat companion shares his plans to propose to his girlfriend … then leaves the ring on the train! Along with strait-laced Curtis across the aisle, Ruby embarks on a new mission, to reunite Lewis with his lost ring. They go to each other’s meetings, with hilarious results, Ruby gets a new job and Curtis starts to unwind. Meanwhile, Kim gets a shock but also adopts a dog (which is done really well – a rescue dog with issues she has to patiently work on, another example of great research and responsibility on the part of Osborne) and Adrian and Dean both offer their little surprises, too.

I loved the relationship between Ruby and Curtis; he’s obviously more than a little neurodivergent but is presented as a good, decent person with a lot of strong points (and his family gives Osborne an extra opportunity to add a little more diversity, which she does in an unforced way). I also loved that Kim isn’t the youngest and has some menopausal moments but still gets her story, and the older women in a nursing home as well as an older man are also cherished and rounded characters.

A real feel-good novel with a twisty-turny plot that’s expertly handled and characters you can root for, based in a real world where you have to do floristry admin and tidying up, where you have to work hard to get a dog’s trust, and a person’s.

This was the first Bella Osborne novel I’ve read and certainly won’t be the last. Recommended for people who want a well-plotted and researched, fun summer read that you can rely on to do a good job.

Thank you to Avon Books UK for getting in touch to offer me a copy of this book to read via NetGalley in return for an honest review. The book is published on 22 July so not long to go – get pre-ordering now!