Big London Dreams by Clare LydonBig London Dreams by Clare Lydon is a historical, second chance romance that takes you from present day, to London in the 1950’s, and then to present day again. Although it’s part of Lydon’s London Romance Series, it can also be read as a stand-alone book.

Eunice Humphries is a young Londoner with big dreams. She lives with her large family in a housing development, but she plans on becoming a fashion designer working in Paris. When Eunice gets a job at a garment factory making clothes, she knows this is her first step in making her dream come true. What she didn’t know would happen, however, was that on her very first day she would meet the enigmatic Joan Hart. Joan wears trousers and scarves and has a shorter hairstyle than the other girls. She captivates Eunice and sparks fly at first sight.

Joan lives with her brother as their parents have both died. She is well liked at the garment factory even though her family life is far from conventional. Both she and her brother live for the theater and the arts. She dreams of becoming a playwright and having her works performed on the stage. She’s always known she prefers women as love interests over men, but she never thought that she would ever find a woman who would reciprocate her feelings, until she meets Eunice.

Eunice is fascinated by Joan, who lives such a different, less restrictive lifestyle than Eunice. They get to know each other by Joan showing Eunice a London that Eunice would never have seen on her own. As both women fall more and more in love with each other amid the sights and sounds and excitement of 1950’s London, the question is whether a love like theirs will be able to endure, or will it collapse under the weight of homophobia and sexist expectations that permeated London (and everywhere else) at that time?

Pros And My Favourite Parts

I love a book that can embed you into a time and place so thoroughly that you believe you are living during that time. Lydon does an excellent job describing the sights and sounds of 1950’s London.  Her descriptions make you want to hop on a plane for a visit and play tourist. These kinds of books are always so exciting because they define what it means to “escape” into a book.

When you think Historical Fiction, you typically don’t think of such recent history, but 1950’s London was an exciting time-period, where more and more women were entering the work-place and questioning the rigid gender-roles placed upon them by society. I haven’t read that many books based in this time period, especially ones focused on lesbians, and it was great to hear about the secret gay bars and clubs that the main characters frequented.

Lydon also does an excellent job describing the friction the two women face between on the one had wanting to fulfil their dreams and be together, and the other, having to live up to the rigid gender roles and expectations placed upon them by the times they lived in. It was heartbreaking seeing what these two women had to tolerate to be together. Her descriptions of the real fear the couple had of getting caught and some of the near misses had me on the edge of my seat!

As it’s a second chance romance you know there is a huge break up scene, and this one tore me to pieces. As inevitable as it was, I was so saddened by the way it happened. Lydon writes the angst beautifully in this novel.

I also love first-love stories, and this book delivers one of the best I have read. Seeing Eunice realize that she has feelings for and is attracted to Joan and being so fearless when they decide to consummate their love, it was exciting, and steamy!

Cons And Heads Up

Not a real con, however, although I know this is a second chance romance, I still would have liked the HEA (happily ever after) to have happened a bit sooner for the two women.

The Conclusion

Big London Dreams is for any reader who remembers their first love fondly and wants to relive all the excitement and exploration and emotional highs and lows that came along with it. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and getting to know a London I knew very little about. I believe you will as well.

Excerpt from Big London Dreams by Clare Lydon

When Eunice turned to Joan, she had crumbs on the side of her mouth.

Before Joan stopped to think, she reached out a hand to wipe them away. As the pad of her thumb connected to Eunice’s face, she whipped her eyes to Joan.

Joan’s heartbeat thudded in her ears. She stilled, and the moment froze between them.

Eunice’s gaze held her in place. What was she doing, wiping her face? Joan fizzled with embarrassment. There were only two people who did that. The first was a mother. The second was a lover.

Joan was neither.  She hastily dropped her hand and cleared her throat. A stew of emotion swirled inside her.

cleared her throat. A stew of emotion swirled inside her.

“You had some crumbs,” she stuttered, not able to look Eunice in the eye. She was sure her cheeks were the colour of a plum.

Eunice put her hand where Joan’s had been, checking her fingertips for crumbs. Then she raised her eyes back to Joan. “Looks like you did a good job. All gone?”

Their gazes held, and Joan’s stomach turned like it was on a spin cycle. She gave Eunice a curt nod.

A murmur ran through the crowd, and the moment popped between them.

Shouting and cheering further up the river caused the crowds around them to bellow, while everyone who was near to the railing began to bang their hands on it, making the bridge vibrate with noise. Electricity ran through the crowd as necks strained, looking for the first churn of the river. Joan leaned over and grinned at Mari and Kitty, as the bridge shook to the stamping of feet and hands. When she looked right, Eunice gave her a luminous grin.

Joan’s stomach flipped again.

It had occurred to her she might be in trouble when it came to Eunice. Now, as her body trembled being so close to her, it came into sharper focus. However, it was the kind of trouble that made Joan feel alive. Standing shoulder to shoulder with Eunice, it felt like the life she wanted might be within her grasp.

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London Romance Series

London Calling

This London Love

A Girl Called London

The London of Us

London, Actually

Made in London

Hot London Nights

Big London Dreams

Bits and Bobs

ISBN number: 9781912019212

Publisher: Custard Books

Clare Lydon Online

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Note: I received a free review copy of Big London Dreams by Clare Lydon. No money was exchanged for this review. When you use our links to buy we get a small commission which supports the running of this site