I am delighted to be one of the blogs kicking off the tour today for Staying Out for the Summer by Mandy Baggot. Happy Publication Day, Mandy! My thanks to Victoria Joss at Head of Zeus for inviting me to take part and for providing me with a digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.
After a summer of staying in, it’s time to let your hair down and escape to Greece!
For Lucie Burrows, it’s time to embrace Greek life and put the past behind her! Having spent the summer of 2020 battling a global health crisis, Lucie Burrows is looking forward to a summer out of lockdown.
When best friend, Gavin, finds them the perfect Greek escape Lucie finally starts to think this summer might just go without a hitch.But after a landslide puts the village into a local lockdown, Lucie is thrown together with Michalis Andino, the super sexy village doctor. It’s not quite the holiday she had planned, but things could certainly be worse.
As Lucie relaxes into the Greek way of life, she begins to wonder whether this lockdown might just end in a new life, a new love…
Like me, you’ve probably been wondering how authors are going to deal with the pandemic crisis that has gripped the world for the last twelve months in their writing. I think there are going to be three ways of going about it. Firstly, people can set there books in some kind of world, either pre- or post-pandemic, where the crisis is not mentioned at all and life carries on as if it never happened, secondly it could be mentioned just in passing but largely ignored, or thirdly the author can deal with the issue head on and fully incorporate it into their writing. I have seem some discussion about what readers are going to be looking for in this regard, and I have seen mixed responses with some saying they are not ready to read about the pandemic in fiction yet because they turn to books to escape it, and some saying they would be happy to see books reflecting the reality of what we have been through. Horses for courses.
In her latest book, Mandy Baggot has firmly taken the third route and put a nurse and a doctor in the aftermath of the pandemic firmly at the heart of the story and has not shied away from exploring what these people have been put through over the past twelve months and how they are dealing with it. I think this is a very brave move, because there are people who are just not going to be ready for books that contain any reference to the difficulties the world has faced recently, especially those that are otherwise a light-hearted romance, but personally, I really enjoyed this book and felt that Mandy dealt with what could be a tricky subject with grace and compassion and honesty, whilst still retaining her trademark warmth and humour in a way that demonstrated great skill in her craft.
I love Mandy’s books for the escapism they provide, and this one is no different. Here she transports nurses Lucie and Gavin to the sun-drenched shores of Corfu, where they are taking a well-earned break from the stresses they have been under working in the NHS throughout 2020. But it is not that easy to relax whilst the after effects of the pandemic are still washing around the world. Doctor Michaelis has returned from the Greek mainland to his small home village in Corfu for similar reasons, not expecting to find romance with someone who really understands what he has been through, but fate always has other plans in romance novels!
Michaelis and Lucie are both great characters with lots of heart and some issues to work through, and they had fabulous chemistry. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know them, as they got to know each other. I also absolutely adored Gavin and Michaelis’s sister, Nyx, who were larger than life and great fun to read. Mandy has also provided a fantastic cast of supporting characters, worthy of any greek tragedy or an instalment of the ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’ franchise, and the whole book is a performance a maximum drama, whilst still exploring some difficult issues sympathetically. I think the author has struck a great balance here between humour and pathos.
We all need a bit of escapism at the moment, and many of us long for those warm beaches and blue seas. Unfortunately, the world has not moved on maybe as far as Mandy imagined when she was writing this book, and foreign travel is going to be merely a memory for a bit longer I fear. So, this kind of armchair travel might be our only option for a while, and I for one will take it as the alternative for now. I know some people may feel like they don’t want to read about a world that is currently only wishful thinking, but I welcome the change of scene, even if it is only imaginary.
I admire Mandy for writing about the world as it actually is, rather than how we might wish it could be. I know not everyone will agree but, if you are a fan of Mandy’s books and are looking for that armchair escape, without shying away from our new reality, this is the book for you. A light, romantic, honest novel with a bittersweet kick.
Staying Out for the Summer is out in ebook format today, and will be published in paperback on 10 June and you can get a copy here.
Make sure you check out some more reviews on the rest of the blog tour:
About the Author
Mandy Baggot is an international bestselling and award-winning romance writer. The winner of the Innovation in Romantic Fiction award at the UK’s Festival of Romance, her romantic comedy novel, One Wish in Manhattan, was also shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association Romantic Comedy Novel of the Year award in 2016. Mandy’s books have so far been translated into German, Italian, Czech and Hungarian. Mandy loves the Greek island of Corfu, white wine, country music and handbags. Also a singer, she has taken part in ITV1’s Who Dares Sings and The X-Factor. Mandy is a member of the Society of Authors and lives near Salisbury, Wiltshire, UK with her husband and two daughters.
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