The Birthday That Changed Everything
by Debbie Johnson
Publishing Date: 28th January 2016
Source: Copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!
Number of pages: 400
Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction
She wanted a birthday surprise, just not the one she got…
The last thing Sally Summers expected from her husband on her special day was that he’d leave her for a Latvian lap dancer half her age. So with her world in tatters, Sally jets off to Turkey for some sun, sea and sanctuary.
The Blue Bay resort brings new friends and the perfect balm for Sally’s broken heart in gorgeous Dubliner James. He’s just the birthday present she needs. And when the chemistry between them continues to spark as the holiday ends, Sally wonders if this is more than just a summer fling.
But James has scars of his own and Sally isn’t quite ready to turn her back on her marriage. This birthday might have changed everything, but what will the next one bring?
Lately, in a relatively short space of time, I’ve read two of Debbie Johnson’s books, and I truly liked them, so when requesting „The Birthday that Changed Everything” and keeping everything crossed to be accepted, I knew that I can expect an entertaining, funny book. But reality has totally, absolutely exceeded my expectations and this book has just Blown. Me. Away.
„The Birthday that Changed Everything” is written purely for entertaining purposes, and believe me, I don’t remember laughing so much (SO MUCH) when reading a book. This was totally my kind of humour, also the one that you must read between the lines, and it was full of the most fantastic one – liners, awkward and embarrassing situations but also some more gentle and touching moments.
Because there was not a single thing that I find weaker in this book, let me tell you what I so much enjoyed:
– humour. From the very beginning, with the way Simon dumped Sally (for a moment I had a déjà- vu feeling, as Sue Watson’s book „Bella’s Christmas Bake Off” started in the same way, with a main character being dumped by her husband almost on the first page, but then the books, apart of the fact that they’re both great, are totally different), through the whole story in fact it was laugh out loud funny.
– characters, especially Lucy and Ollie, but all other as well! It was impossible not to like them – well, except for Sally’s husband perhaps, although he had his moments as well, and he was exactly as entertaining as the others. When he was in a competition modus for example. To be honest, at the beginning I was outraged with Goth – Lucy, her foul mouth and the way she treated her mother, father, brother and the whole world, but then I got used to her and I started to warm to her so, so much, and to love her foul mouth, loudness and bluntness. Ollie was so, so sweet, such a good boy and I loved him even more after the scene where he got plastered for the first time – it was priceless!
I adored Sally as mother, her stoicism, she knew exactly when she should react and when not. She was so honest and genuine in all that she did or said – no matter if she was heartbroken because her husband has just left her for a 19 – year – old Latvian stripper, or if she was furious with her daughter, or if she was in love – she just felt totally honest.
James. Oh James. Honest, handsome, funny and full of feelings. Also with a past but looking to the future. Not afraid to show those feelings. I loved him, mmmm.
And all the other characters, the whole Blue Bay resort gang, they were so warm and welcoming and I’d love to spend holidays with them. Even though they are a very loud bunch of people. Brilliantly described, vivid, colourful characters, each of them with their own story which added so much to the novel – fantastic!
– setting. Usually our characters travel to Greece for their holidays but this time they went to Turkey. I loved Blue Bay resort, together with the waiters – especially with the waiters, especially on the day of the farewell party!
– plot. You know, it was not only fun, fun, fun and having drinks under the sunshades. The author has firstly: brilliantly varied all the holidays, adding so much events and I couldn’t wait to see what there is going to happen and secondly: she has complicated the plot, it was not predictable, there were many twists and turns that I so incredibly enjoyed. And thirdly: the fact the characters were so normal, they were all drinking booze, they were getting ill, they must have bear the moods of their teenage children, they had better and worse days. Debbie Johnson has shown us the characters in their most difficult moments and in their funniest moments and it was brilliantly balanced.
– twists and turns and not making the plot run so obvious – see above.
– writing style and they way the story was told. I find the idea of this book just brilliant – going on holidays to the same place and meeting the same group of people there, but what people! They were the whole fun. The way the story was told, as it was set over few years, taking part mostly during holidays, took me by surprise, I didn’t expect it to be like this, and especially not the characters coming back to the same resort, but it worked brilliantly. I really enjoyed it, it made the pace even quicker, and I think the reading itself much more hooking and interesting, as it spared us, with some exceptions when the characters reminisced a little, the less significant events happening in the characters’ lives and concentrated only on the sunny parts of their lives. But „sunny” in inverted commas of course, as the holidays were full not only with fun, fun, fun but also drama and life – changing decisions.
– the romance that was not so straight – forward, not at all! It was so great and so realistic, with all its ups and downs, and there was a moment that I was really climbing the walls – I was truly scared. I really liked that Debbie Johnsons had thought about all the aspects like living in different countries, having exes, having children – well, this is the life, right? But the sparks of attraction between Sally and James were just palpable through the pages, the question was only if they are ready for a relationship? Or is this going to stay a holiday romance only?
So this is really my favourite book by Debbie Johnson so far. It is not only a pure fun but it brilliantly showed the changes in characters’ lives, how they developed. It effortlessly transported me in the sunny Turkey, to the poolside and I felt like part of the Blue Bay gang. It is a sexy, flirty book, funny and sad, bitter – sweet read that kept me guessing to the very end. If you are looking for a novel with an overwhelming feel – good factor, it is a read for you – I can’t recommend it highly enough! This book deserves much more than only 5 stars. In Lucy’s words: FUCKING BRILLIANT!!!!