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Karola – :
How can you trust your heart, your body after years of grieving over your lost wife? Losing the love of your life? How long after her death is it appropriate to still grieve? Noa has yet to come to believe that she can feel and love again, when a change of scenery brings her to Paige, a nurse who helps her in a bad situation. Paige has demons of her own, but the more she sees of Noa the more she wants to get to know all of her. And then something of Noas past resurfaces what brings them closer together.
I liked that book because it contains a little bit of all: love, trust, sex, mystery, friends, family, a very good mix
cheekybugger13 – :
Charlotte Mills’ latest outing, “Body of Work,” was a combination of a second-chance romance with a touch of mystery built around it. The story also dealt with a myriad of emotional and psychological issues, namely, grief, depression, loss, childhood trauma and mental instability. After having read all of Mill’s books since her debut, “Unlikely Places,” and her last one, “Payback,” which became one of my favourite crime/mystery/romance books, had effectively sealed her as one lesfic author to watch out for. I’ve enjoyed her writing style and stories which almost always have some twists along the way. So I was looking forward to what was up her sleeve with this new story of hers. Reading the blurb got me excited about exploring the story especially how Mills would weave the intriguing mystery into the main arc. As I expected, Mills didn’t disappoint because all throughout the story, she made you feel like at any given moment, something would pop out revealing something about the mystery!
I loved that Mills started the book with a prologue that was a flashback from the present time. 1987. Immediately it hit my sense of curiosity. Right off the bat, Mills set up what would become the backdrop of the main arc all throughout the book. The case of a mysterious disappearance of the main character’s elder brother, a late teen, who was not only her sibling but also her close mate. The circumstances surrounding his disappearance were pure mystery. One moment he was just going out to his bestie’s house, the next, poof, he was gone! Missing and never found despite attempts from the police force to locate him. Then in a blink of an eye, 30+ years had passed. That’s when the main story began…
Noa, the main character, was a reclusive artist. A painter, whose work was well-known in her professional circle in London. I was intrigued by her present state of mind, not only due to the trauma of losing her best friend-cum-brother for most of her life, not knowing what happened to him, whether he was dead or alive, the inevitable scarring psychological effects of her childhood trauma, but also due to the fact that she was also suffering from a great loss in her life – her wife. Her grief was palpable through Mills’ depiction of Noa’s depression in her behaviour, outlook in life that bled into her art work – DARK. I liked how Mills navigated Noa’s life, juggling her grief and loss compounded by her missing brother, which left a big guilty conscience in her psyche since she was prolly the last person to see him before he went missing!
Then, Mills introduced me to Paige. A district nurse working in the small village where Noa was relegated to by her own agent so she could have some quiet, quality time to herself, away from the hustle and bustle of London which didn’t really help her psychological state which was affecting her ability to work effectively. I liked Paige right away as Mills described and portrayed her to be the polar opposite of Noa’s. She was light to Noa’s darkness – in every possible way imaginable, from her personality, worldview to her outlook in life. A true yin and yang. I thought Paige’s characteristics would be an interesting dichotomy to explore especially when it came to developing a romance between these two souls. What intrigued me more about Paige was that despite being the “sunshine” to Noa’s “gloom,” Mills had deftly added another layer of depth to her character. Yup, Paige was also in the same psychological boat as Noa’s when it came to her past relationship albeit a very different approach to how she was dealing with it. The contrast that Mills portrayed between these two characters was done in a resonating and relatable way. Wait ’til you read about what happened with Paige’s past relationship. Tragic was an understatement. Made me think about just how unpredictable life truly is. We’re given one life to live. Live it to the fullest and in truth because you’d never know. Anyway, I enjoyed that twist about Paige’s past and how it correlated to Noa’s in terms of how either one of them deal with grief.
Although the romance between Noa and Paige took centre-stage, I was more intrigued by the mystery and the curious circumstances surrounding Noa’s brother after 3 decades, as Mills crafted a romance that began with two women with a painful past whose serendipitous meeting led to a tentative friendship to a solid one before they realised the depth of their feelings for each other. Hence, began their second chance at falling in love. Also, it was a chance for Noa to let go of her grief and loss so she could move on to a new chapter in her love life. And as Noa and Paige slowly grew their relationship, Mills deftly weaved in the ongoing mystery surrounding Noa’s missing brother which also involved Noa’s manager, curiously!
When the mystery reached its tipping point, Mills being Mills, nothing was what it seemed! Let’s just say that the 3rd and final act was my favourite moment of the story. I must say, I wasn’t expecting the twist at all. In fact, as Mills slowly peeled off each layer, describing each scene, I had a theory for each piece of revelation until the truth came out….let’s just say, I had the wool pulled over my eyes!! I did NOT expect that!! Well done, Ms. Mills! Just you wait until you read about it. The only thing I wish Mills had done was to expand the mystery with its ultimate twist at a greater length instead of only in the final act. I know, I know. This story was supposed to be more of a romance than anything, really. Don’t get me wrong. Fans of romance with a hint of mystery would enjoy this book, that’s for sure. The elaboration of the mystery is only my own personal preference. Mills’ decision to let the mystery stay in the shadows throughout most of the story actually worked out very well in the context of a romance genre. So, it’s all good.
All in all, Mills’ storytelling and writing style didn’t disappoint. In fact, her take on telling a second-chance love story in the midst of a cold case lurking around in the shadows was both intriguing and illuminating, whilst Mills was also mindful about ensuring that the intertwining stories retained its organic essence. Whilst my favourite of Mills’ work is still her last one, “Payback,” I must say, “Body of Work” truly shows Mills’ innate skill in telling a romance story that is never straightforward, but always filled with a level of psychological and emotional demons that she weaves into her characters, thus, making them feel more multi-dimensional, grounded in reality. In essence, I enjoyed Mills’ presentation of this story with all its trappings sewn into the human psyche of her characters, circumstances and situations, with the additional twist of a mystery in the mix! I think fans of romance would find this story worth a read especially if you enjoy exploring how two very different characters dealing with grief and loss found themselves being given a second-chance at falling in love. Also, Noa’s personal journey of truth and reconciliation, about loss, guilt, depression, was portrayed realistically. I especially enjoyed the dichotomy by which Noa and Paige differed in facing their own psychological demons as a result of their respective grief and loss.
**I was given, with much thanks and appreciation, an ARC of this book by Ylva in return for an honest review.
Ana Leamaro – :
First I thought this was a book about how to deal with the pain of loosing someone you love; than I thought, well apparently it’s sort of erotic. A few chapters later I thought, ah after all is a mystery! No, wrong again, because a 3 chapters later it was a cliched horror show. Each part I’ve mentioned could be a different story, but all of them put together in the same book just doesn’t work. The story doesn’t connect and I had a hard time to finish the book. If it wasn’t a ARC copy I would have drop it in the middle. My 3 stars is always my minimum rate and there are small parts of the book really good. This could have been a good book if the author had chosen one theme and stick to it.
Betty Harmon – :
Body of Work by Charlotte Mills begins on a really dark note with the main character (Noa Stevens) having gone through a couple of extremely traumatizing events in her life. Her only brother went missing when she was a child, and her wife died suddenly from an unknown heart defect. Either event would be life changing for anyone, and to have both happen would be devastating. I wanted to empathize with Noa, but unfortunately, because of many of her actions in the book, I had a hard time doing that. She came across as very unlikeable for a good portion of the tale. Regrettably, this is just the beginning of the problems that I had with the characters in this story, and even with the story itself.
The book is supposed to be a combination of mystery and romance. However, most of the book ends up being Noa recovering from her grief with the help of the other main character Paige Stevens. She meets Paige who is a nurse in the small town Noa is sent to by her agent to recover and begin painting again. I’m not sure how the romance started since Noa treats Paige like dirt to begin with, but eventually they do connect. The romance between the two, once they do get together, is probably the best part of the whole book. I did enjoy the romance once the two finally came together.
The secondary characters in the novel are not well developed. They serve little to no purpose, and actually interfere in the story sometimes.
The mystery part of the book really didn’t get going until near the end of the story, and even then, it wasn’t much of a mystery. I really expected more from the author who blew me away with her mystery and intrigue novel Payback.
While I can only describe this novel as average, with a pretty good romance as part of the tale, I know that the author is capable of writing exceptional stories. That is why I will be looking for more from Ms. Mills in the future.
I received an ARC from Ylva Publishing for an honest review.