Pining and Loving by Emma Sterner-RadleyPining and Loving by Emma Sterner-Radley is a delightful friends-to-lovers romance. It is also about casting your fears and insecurities aside in order for you to be brave enough to put your heart on the line for love.

Longing and intimacy tend to go hand in hand but which one should a person take a chance on? If love makes the world go around, is the fast paced and turbulent spin worth it after all?

Aya Lawson has always been known as the strong and quiet one but her self-image was badly shaken when she was forced to give up her dream job as a professional boxer and now she is searching for a meaningful purpose in life.

Gwen Davies is a fun-loving and friendly barista and she is also an artist outside of her scheduled working hours.

These phenomenal women have their own struggles and emotional baggage but they have one thing in common—they are both longing for a chance to date a woman who is so far out of their league but their desires are only far-fetched dreams.

A simple twist of fate allows a pleasant daydream to become a reality. Will Aya and Gwen be able to follow their hearts and chase after their dreams in order to have the kind of love life they have always hungered for?

The Characters

Aya Lawson is an ex-boxer who is trying to make her way in life. She is trying to find a new career and purpose since she left the world of professional boxing behind. Even though Aya can be moody and a bit irritable at times, she is such a sweetheart because she will go above and beyond for anyone in need, especially for beautiful baristas in distress. I have a serious weakness for tough women with tender hearts and Aya certainly fits this bill because she possesses a silent strength and a calming way about her that I adore.

Gwen Davies is a barista and a freelance artist. Gwen struggles with clinical depression and she is determined to live her life to the fullest despite the numerous challenges she faces. I must say that Gwen deserves the highest of fives because I really admire her resilience and her wicked sense of humour. She has the kind of personality that could brighten up anyone’s day with one of her good-natured smiles and I also love the fact that she loves fur babies just as much as I do! If Gwen was a real woman we would be the best of friends because I have a long-standing love affair with coffee and I am rather fond of friendly baristas.

The Writing Style

Right now, I’m raising my coffee mug to Emma Sterner-Radley because she gave me a frank, unapologetic and detailed description of the way depression affected all areas of Gwen’s life and the people who care about her. I love the fact that this story was told from Gwen and Aya’s point of view because I had unrestricted access to their innermost thoughts and desires and I was able to bond with them easily. I truly adore the lovely British terms of endearment and I fell in love with Stoke-on-Trent and now I am sorely tempted to visit England so that I can experience everything this beautiful city has to offer! The upcoming tax season be damned! I’d love to see Chester, Stoke-on-Trent and parts of Wales with my own eyes.

The Pros

This story has certainly been eye-opening because I’ve learned a lot about depression when I tagged along with Gwen while she struggled to deal with the debilitating effects of her mental illness. I’m so glad that I’ve read this story because in many parts of the world mental issues are still regarded as a taboo subject and it is not discussed openly at all. In my homeland, people with mental illnesses often fall by the wayside because our culture tends to turn a blind eye to their plight. I must say that I’ve been on an emotional rollercoaster ride because on one hand I’ve laughed along with Gwen and Aya as they shared many hilarious moments together and on the other hand, I’ve feel the deepest sadness ever because I got an intimate view of what living with clinical depression is really like.

The Cons

Aya’s parents were mentioned from time to time but the tense relationship between Aya and her parents wasn’t clearly portrayed and I felt as though I didn’t get a complete picture of Aya’s personal life.

The Conclusion

I just love a good slow-burn and friends-to-lovers romance, however, this novel goes far beyond being just a romance story. This author has done an outstanding job of highlighting the fact that people who suffer with mental illnesses like depression and anxiety often face a lot of stigmatism. In addition, they don’t get enough support from their family members and coworkers and they have many difficulties in their romantic relationships as well. This book will always be special to me because it has given me touching moments coupled with socially awkward and lovable characters who are dealing with heartbreaking situations.

aprils favourite booksExcerpt from Pining and Loving by Emma Sterner-Radley

The stranger fiddled with her sunglasses. “Um. Hi. Are you all right?”

“Sure. I’m having the time of my life,” Gwen said in what she hoped was a jokey tone.

“Uh-huh. Do you need me to, I don’t know, call someone or something?”

“No. Ignore this. I suffer from depression, and I’m having a bit of a breakdown. It’ll pass.” Gwen had given this speech so many times in her life that it just rolled off her tongue.

“Okay,” the other woman muttered.

She didn’t get back into her car though. Instead she put the sunglasses back on. Then took them off again, fidgeted with them, then put them on again. Finally, she sighed and groused, “Look, I’m not good with people or stuff like this, but I don’t think I should leave you here. Not in your state. Can I at least give you a lift somewhere?”

Gwen gave a hollow laugh. “Sure, how about Chester? That was where I was going before I missed my sodding train.”

The stranger put her hands on her hips. Then she frowned and hummed pensively.

Gwen saw her own reflection in the mirror-armour of the sunglasses and quickly fished a Coffee4U napkin out of her jacket pocket to blow her nose. Sadly, there was nothing she could do about her swollen eyes or the dark circles under them. When she’d blown her nose, the black-haired woman was still looking like she was actually considering the joke about driving to Chester. Gwen had to say something.

“You do know I was just kidding? I don’t expect you to drive an hour to Chester for me. You’re probably going to work, right? I bet I’ve already made you late. I’m so sorry about that.”

“No,” the stranger snapped. “I don’t have a bloody job.”

“Oh, okay,” Gwen said, silently agreeing with this woman’s earlier statement that she wasn’t great with people.

A muscle bounced in the stranger’s cheek, and then her hands dropped from her hips. “Look, I don’t mind driving an hour to anywhere. It’s just that I’m not used to having people in my Jeep, especially strangers at that. But I don’t want to be rude and you clearly need help. So…” She fell silent.

Gwen said nothing, waiting for the rest of the sentence. When it was clear that nothing else was forthcoming, she prompted, “Wait, you’re actually offering to drive me to Chester? I can’t inconvenience you like that.”

The muscly woman appeared confused, or maybe conflicted, for a second. “Yeah. Bugger it. Get in.”

Gwen glanced from the car, which looked to her like one of those little army jeeps from old movies, to its owner. Sure, this woman was helpful. And attractive. Not to mention familiar. But she was also quite rude. Was a rude stranger really what Gwen needed when she was so emotionally fragile and had a place to get to? Did she want to spend her precious day off with this person?

She remembered the napkin in her hand. She wasn’t crying anymore. Nor had she fallen into that bottomless ocean where she felt nothing. In fact, she was curious about this woman and maybe a little bit insulted at the rudeness.

That was feeling something. Even better, it was something that wasn’t sadness, dejection, or self-loathing. She took that as a sign and stood up. On wobbly legs, she walked over to the Jeep and got in.

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