A Taste of Love by Clare LydonA Taste of Love by Clare Lydon is a sweet romance that I devoured in one day.

Natalie Hill has convinced herself that all she wants is a quiet life in Upper Chewford, surrounded by her family and the village’s friendly residents. She’s given up on finding love in the quiet English countryside, and she’s focusing on the town’s growth and upcoming summer festival.

Ellie Knap is determined to make a new life for herself in the Cotswalds. London has sucked the life out of her, and she wants a fresh start. What could be better than opening an ice cream shop in a village where she doesn’t know a soul?

When Natalie and Ellie meet, they strike up a tentative friendship. Quickly, they discover they work well together, and after one magical kiss under a starry night, everything changes. They both feel like they’ve met “the one”.

Can Ellie completely commit to her new life in Upper Chewford in time to show Natalie she’s the real deal?

The Characters

Natalie Hill is the golden girl of Upper Chewford. She’s vivacious and kind. Born and raised in the small village, she and her personal life are common topics of conversation at the local pub. Since divorcing her husband and coming out as a lesbian, she feels like a bit of an outsider. The villages of the English countryside aren’t known for their thriving lesbian population. She’s been relatively content over the last eight years running her off license shop, which highlights her aunt’s specialty gin with tastings and tours of the distillery, but Natalie still longs for a meaningful relationship. She’s skeptical when she meets Ellie because she’s been burned by a London transplant before. Besides, their first few encounters are less than stellar. With the summer festival quickly approaching, Natalie finds herself in an emotionally charged predicament. Does she accept help from her new neighbor, setting herself up for potential heartbreak, or does she play it safe and go it alone? Natalie has legitimate reasons for her trust issues. When it appears Ellie has gone back on her word, it is understandable that Natalie jumps to conclusions. Her future with Ellie completely relies on whether she can believe Ellie’s declarations of love. My fingers were crossed in the hopes that she could.

Ellie Knap is done. She’s done with her high-paying corporate job. She’s done with her no-good girlfriend. She’s done with the hustle and bustle that comes with living in London proper. Her migraines are just one side effect that’s pushed her to seek refuge in the Cotswalds. Living like a recluse when we first meet her, Ellie’s a sad sight. I admire her strength of character. She’s made a decision to completely reinvent herself, and she sticks to it. She throws herself into opening an ice cream parlor in the town square. Talk about a departure from her spreadsheets and power point presentations. I like that contrast. It shows Ellie is committed to being proactive about making serious changes to how she does life. This is reflected in how she approaches her budding attraction to Natalie. She knows from experience what she doesn’t want in a relationship. As she gets to know Natalie, she has the opportunity to change how she approaches relationships. Again, this is a chance for her to actively change things that haven’t worked for her in the past. I enjoyed watching Ellie embrace life in Upper Chewford, and I was entirely invested in her business and romantic success.

The Writing Style

There is an effortless feel to Lydon’s writing. Her descriptions of Upper Chewford just dance on the page, and her dialogue is crisp and witty as well as heartfelt when it needs to be. A simple depiction of a moonlit night made me smile, and I had to reread it out loud for full effect. (My British accent leaves a lot to be desired.) Lydon includes comedic bits of business scattered throughout the story, and these moments remind the reader that falling in love can be sweetly awkward and often clumsy.

The story is written from both Natalie’s and Ellie’s points of view. This worked for me because each of them is very leery of getting into a new relationship. I thought it was vital to hear what each of them was going through and seeing how they related to their families. I would have hated to miss out on one of their personal experiences.

It must be said, Clare Lydon has perfected the art of writing the first kiss. She skillfully builds the sexual tension between Natalie and Ellie, so when they finally take that step, it’s just as blissful for the reader as it is for them. Lydon scores all sorts of extra credit points with me for all the yummy, sexy bits she sprinkles throughout the rest of the story.

The Pros

Who knew gin and ice-cream are such a tasty combination? I’m always pleased when a book can teach this old dog new tricks, and I learned all sorts of tidbits about both businesses. I can slip those facts into small talk the next time I’m forced to put down my book and interact with real people.

The Cons

Not a single one.

victorias favourite booksThe Conclusion

What a treat! I always look forward to a new novel by Clare Lydon because I know I’m going to be transported to a world where true love awaits. Her books are so easy to slide into, like a soft pair of worn jeans, and A Taste of Love is no exception. Her main characters are women I’d like to grab coffee with. The story filled my head with visions of life in a small village, finding my soulmate in an artisan shop. Perhaps, I should look into relocating to the English countryside and opening a small bookstore, stocking nothing but lesbian novels. If I did, I wonder if Lydon would do an occasional reading and book signing. No hesitations here. Click on that link below, and add this delightful romance to your library.

Excerpt from A Taste of Love by Clare Lydon

A vision of Ellie and Natalie enjoying a candlelit meal sprung to her mind. Ellie stopped writing. She frowned.

Hang on, where had that come from? In her vision, a waiter poured wine, and she and Natalie raised their glasses to each other, their gazes loaded, their cheeks flushed. Ellie’s heartrate picked up speed, and she quickly flushed the thought from her mind. She didn’t have time to think about love or relationships, not with a new business to set up. Yes, Natalie liked women, she knew that after her Blind Date pub stint. Yes, she was single. But just because they were both queer and single didn’t mean they were going to end up together, did it? What had she vowed about not becoming a cliché?

What’s more, relationships weren’t something that worked out for Ellie. She’d never mastered the couples dynamic, unlike her sister. Relationships were for other people. The ones who appeared in glossy magazines and spent their weekends shopping for sofas. Ellie had always bought her sofas online, because who wanted to shop for a sofa alone? She’d once suggested to Grace they do it, and Grace had laughed, thinking she was joking. Ellie had shrugged it off.

Had she ever been herself with Grace? Now, with the hindsight of seven months away, Ellie didn’t think so.

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