Title: Since You’ve Been Gone by Anouska Knight
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 320 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher
How do you learn to love again?
In one tragic moment, Holly Jefferson’s life as she knew it changed forever. Now—to the external world, at least—she’s finally getting back on her feet, running her bakery, Cake. But inside, she’s still going through the motions befitting a twenty-seven-year-old widow.
Then she meets Ciaran Argyll. His privileged and charmed life feels a million miles from her own. However, there’s more to Ciaran than the superficial world that surrounds him, and he, too, is wrestling with his own ghosts. Will Holly find the missing ingredient that allows her to live again—and embrace an unknown and unexpected tomorrow?
Since You’ve Been Gone by Anouska Knight is an enchanting novel that is light-hearted, humorous and poignant. Moving on after a loss is never easy and heroine Holly Jefferson is all too aware of this fact. With the second anniversary of her husband Charlie’s death fast approaching, Holly is still deeply mourning his loss. But an unexpected encounter with wealthy playboy Ciaran Argyll could be the beginning of new chapter in her life but is Holly ready to let go the man she so dearly loved?
Holly has pretty much shut everyone out of her life while she mourns Charlie’s death. She is still running her bakery business, but she has no social life to speak of other than her weekly visits with her sister Martha and brother-in-law Rob. She lets her friend and co-worker Jesse take care of the bakery’s deliveries but when she is forced to make the delivery of a very unusual cake to boisterous and fun-loving Fergal Argyll, she is fascinated by her brief glimpses of his son Ciaran. Her path unexpectedly continues to cross with Ciaran, but it takes Holly quite some time to recognize that she has misjudged him and his intentions where she is concerned.
On the surface, Ciaran and Holly appear to have nothing in common. He is quite wealthy and he unapologetically enjoys the finer things his money can buy. Holly’s bakery is successful but her business fluctuates throughout the year. Ciaran seems to lead a charmed life, but once she takes the time to get to know him, Holly is stunned to discover that he, too, has suffered a tremendous loss that almost cost him and his father their business. And while Ciaran might have a bit of reputation as a ladies’ man, that does not necessarily mean he has not had his heart broken at some point in the past.
Ciaran and Holly’s relationship is slow growing and for every step forward, they wind up taking two steps back. This is mostly due to Holly’s reluctance to let Charlie go. But it is Holly’s propensity to leap to conclusions that is their biggest downfall. Ciaran is genuinely sweet and surprisingly down to earth but she continually and deliberately refuses to accept that he is being completely honest with her. Holly also has difficulty believing that he is sincere about wanting a relationship with her.
The secondary cast of characters is outstanding and just as endearing Ciaran and Holly. Holly’s scenes with her sister Martha are filled with humor and obvious affection. Jesse is more than Holly’s employer; he is also a dear friend who gently pushes her out of her comfort zone. Holly’s neighbor Mrs. Hedley gives her some sound advice based on her regrets about past decisions but it is Mrs. Hedley’s friendship with Ciaran that is most surprising and touching. Ciaran’s father Fergal is larger than life and his character vibrantly leaps off the pages. He is a little crass but he is such a lovable person it is easy to forgive his eccentricities. Of course, the novel would not be complete without a scheming and interfering woman whose manipulations cause some of the conflict in Holly and Ciaran’s relationship.
Since You’ve Been Gone is a heartwarming second chance at love romance that is full of strong emotion. It is a beautiful novel with a marvelous cast of engaging characters and Anouska Knight puts a fresh spin on a familiar storyline. Both funny and a little bit sad, it is an all around superb read that I absolutely loved and highly recommend.