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#BlogTour #BookReview Family For Beginners by Sarah Morgan (@SarahMorgan_) @HQStories #FamilyForBeginners

I’m delighted to welcome you to my stop on the blog tour for Family For Beginners by Sarah Morgan; it’s always a highlight to read and review her novels. Thank you to the team over at HQ for the opportunity to take part on the tour and for my copy of the book which I read in exchange for my honest thoughts.

Firstly, a little bit about the book

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Who says you can’t choose your family?

When Flora falls in love with Jack, suddenly she’s not only handling a very cranky teenager, but she’s also living in the shadow of Jack’s perfect, immortalised wife, Becca. Every summer, Becca and Jack would holiday with Becca’s oldest friends and Jack wants to continue the tradition, so now Flora must face a summer trying to live up to Becca’s memory, with not only Jack’s daughter looking on, but with Becca’s best friends judging her every move…

The more Flora tries to impress everyone, the more things go horribly wrong…but as the summer unfolds, Flora begins pushing her own boundaries, and finding herself in a way that she never thought she needed to.

And she soon learns that families come in all shapes and sizes.

Family For Beginners is published by HQ and is available now in paperback, audio and ebook (currently ONLY 99p throughout March!)

AmazonUK|Waterstones|Goodreads

My thoughts

Stepping into a new Sarah Morgan novel really is like coming home after a long day elsewhere – I just sink into her effortless writing and get instant comfort from her stories. I remember being apprehensive when she changed to stand-alone books but with Family For Beginners and her last book A Wedding In December I feel she’s really grown into her own, giving me all the usual romance, humour, relatable characters and chemistry I expect from her early work but with much more besides.

Named Flora by her flower obsessed mother and also working in the same upmarket Manhattan Florist that she did, Flora is more an observer than a doer of life; she lives alone in a small, damp apartment and whilst she has many people around her she feels a desperate loneliness – no one close enough to share that emotional intimacy with and yearns to be accepted, belong and loved, after her mother died when she was only eight years old and her cold aunt made it abundantly clear right through to the day she died that Flora was a burden to her. Like her mother, Flora is a talented florist, yet all she wants is a family to belong to…

All seems out of reach until one day the handsome Jack walks into the florist and an almost instant connection starts to build between the two. Could this be it? A ready made family? But Jack is a recent widower and dad to seven year old Molly and seventeen year old Izzy, and you know what they say: “the path to true love never runs smooth” and teenager Izzy is certainly going to make that the case by doing everything in her power to keep Izzy away from her having a place in their family – especially when Jack invites Flora to join them on their usual three week family holiday in the Lake District where Jack and his past wife have vacationed for 20 years with friends who live there, Claire and husband Todd.

Family For Beginners is such a perfect title for this tale about blended families and the relationships within – new, old, father and daughter, mother and daughter, husband and wife, old friends and of course, introducing a new partner. Morgan has such a knack for exploring family dynamics and human nature within her writing, her situations always feel very real to those we may have to deal with on the outside world and once again, her characters in Family For Beginners feel very relatable to the likes of you and I.

If you’re not familiar with Morgan’s writing then her stories usually take on the perspectives of two or three characters rather than revolving around one. In Family For Beginners it focuses on Flora and Izzy, with a few chapters from Becca’s (Jack’s lost wife) best friend Claire. Flora was a lovely character -I loved her passion and knowledge for flowers and the warmness that radiated off her. Like many of us she is desperate to please, fit in and hides her own self away, whilst at times this side of her annoyed me, I understood why, and that annoyance wasn’t from her being unlikable at all, it was more because I just wanted her to love and be proud of who she was – not compare herself to others. I also adored Jack, as soon as he entered that Florist I felt that charm of a fictional Morgan leading man and loved those rare moments of playfulness between him and flora and the heart-melting moments they shared with Molly. I could understand his blindness to daughter Izzy’s behaviour – perhaps my own tiny criticism (if you can even call it that) was that I felt myself wanting Jack’s perspective from time to time and felt a couple of chapters would of been really beneficial. And as for Izzy, well, she’s actually very comical in her ploys and thoughts and I could always see this wonderful, thoughtful and funny personality itching to break free from her mask of hostility – how much she was hurting seeped from her and I willed her to open up and be free of it, allowing us to again see the real person. And Todd, ah Todd, he only had a small part but what a delight!

What’s very clear from the start are the secrets that are heavily lingering throughout this novel surrounding Becca. She may not be there in person, yet the presence she holds is huge and very much felt! A picture is painted of how ‘perfect’ a wife and mother she was but was that really the case? It’s not until the holiday in the Lake District when the stories and secrets start to interwine. I personally couldn’t wait to get to the Lake District, firstly because of the hidden mystery, but also because I so love Sarah’s UK settings, they’re always so charming and romantic. The boathouse, glistening lake and mountain backdrop beyond the woods provided such a stunning and idyllic setting.

Full of loveliness that we all need now more than ever, and a new favourite of mine from the author whose feel-good fiction should be on prescription, Family For Beginners is a most comforting and uplifting tale about belonging, grieving, acceptance of who you are and how messy and wonderful families truly are. A summer hit!

About the author

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Sarah Morgan is a Sunday Times and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance and women’s fiction. She lives near London with her family and when she isn’t writing or reading, she likes to spend time outdoors walking or riding her mountain bike.

You can find Sarah on her Website|Twitter|Facebook

Thank you for taking the time to read my review. As always, a little like or share to spread the word is always most appreciated. Do check out the other blogger stops on the Family For Beginners blog tour…

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