Fresh Start by Encarnita RoundFresh Start by Encarnita Round is her third book, and first contemporary romance.

Seraphina “Sera” Williams has moved to a small town in England in order to escape the constant reminders of the two betrayals that ripped her life apart. There, being dragged to the pub by her insistent friend Jan, she meets Jennifer, the local bartender. And thus starts the slow reveal of each woman’s history, and fears, and the big looming issues that make getting closer to each other impossible, even though neither woman is able to keep herself from seeking more.

This story is much more than just the romantic story about how two women fell in love. This story is about two women finding the courage to take a deep breath and jump back into this scary thing called life.

The Characters

Sera starts out in this book in a pretty bad place. She’s hurting, bleeding internally from the pain of deception and betrayal from two people she was supposed to be able to trust the most. Now she’s moved to this small town in order to start a new life. We see her going through the motions of picking herself up, and putting the pieces of her life back together. She’s rented a small house that bears no resemblance to the dwelling in her previous life. Her furniture is secondhand and somewhat shabby. She finds that all important first freelance job that will start her financial recovery. But she doesn’t seem to be living. Her friend Jan is concerned, and that concern results in someone who forces her way into Sera’s life, not letting her hide away from the world.

Jennifer comes from a very long line of publicans. Everyone in her family is in the business, and she’s expected to go into it too. She’s also expected to marry a nice boy, settle down, and create little publicans-to-be to carry on the family line. The problem? She doesn’t want to. But she knows that if she says that out loud, family pressure will be brought to bear. To put off the confrontation, she moves to a small town, working in her aunt and uncle’s pub until she can gather up her courage. This whole situation is exacerbated by her social anxiety, which makes it hard for Jennifer to make new friends.

The Writing Style

Round is adept at the technique of showing, not telling, allowing readers discover each character’s past, and any issues that may interfere with a burgeoning relationship, through dialogue or character action. While this may at first leave us wondering what exactly is going on, or what a particular character’s major hang-up is, it also allows us to get to know characters in a completely natural way. We discover these characters just like we might in real life: slowly, and when they’re ready to expose themselves. The result is an intriguing read that draws a reader in, and makes them want to keep turning pages.

The Pros

I really liked the intense and deeply emotional way these two came together. This wasn’t an easy pairing, with both women needing to face issues in their lives that kept them from becoming as intimate as they wanted to be. And yet, the draw between them was palpable, and it kept me cheering them on.

The Cons

This book stuck with me for quite a while afterwards, enough that I had trouble picking up my next book to read. Oh, who am I kidding? How can that really be considered a con?

The Conclusion

Definitely consider making this one of your next purchases. This book takes some of the usual romance tropes and twists them just enough to make them new again, and interesting, resulting in a compelling read.

Excerpt from Fresh Start by Encarnita Round

“Hey! Missus!” The man jumped out of the van. “Where d’ya want this stuff putting?”

Sera didn’t answer straight away. “I expected two vans?” Sera asked.

“Oh yeah, there’s is, Fred’s on his way. A half hour behind he is.”

Sera nodded as she surveyed the contents of the van. Her whole life reduced to a few mismatched cardboard boxes, pitiful. She shook her head to rid herself of dark thoughts. “Each box is marked with a location such as lounge, kitchen, upstairs and garage. Put each box in the room marked, if you would.”

“Right oh.”

“If you can find the box marked ‘kitchen’ I’ll see about hot drinks.”

“That’d be lovely. I could murder a drink,” he said.

“I’ll see what I can do,” Sera replied. “And when this is unloaded I need you to go and pick up the other stuff.”

“What other stuff?” His eyes narrowed.

“I have ordered a few things from a shop specialising in preowned furniture.” The mere thought of having used furniture made her shudder. After a hand-built leather suite, with beech wood trim, the fall to pre-used could only be described as quite a come down. Still, it would be better than sitting on the floor, so she would make do, and be grateful about it. “I have the address here. It’s not far, and they’re expecting you. They’ll have a two-seater sofa, a desk, and wardrobe.”

“It’ll be extra to go fetch a load on my own,” he said.

“I don’t think so. Call your boss to check,” she said. “I have the contract if you would like to see more details. I always make sure there is a contract so there’s no confusion as to what is ordered.”

“No need.” He rolled his shoulders. “Do we get a tip at the end?”

“Yes,” Sera answered, “the best I can give you. Never trust a beautiful woman, in fact, never mind the beautiful bit, never trust a woman. If you ever fall under the charms of a woman, put your wallet under lock and key and encase the lot in concrete.”

The man snorted. “Too late for that one, love, I’m married.”

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Bits and Bobs

  • Publisher: Indie Author

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Note: I received a free review copy of Fresh Start by Encarnita Round. No money was exchanged for this review. I will always review books as honestly as possible and on occasion I refuse to review books.