Thursday, July 24, 2014

Review: Since You've Been Gone by Anouska Knight

Since You've Been GoneSeries: Standalone
Genre: Women's Fic/Chick Lit
Publisher: Harlequin HQN
Publication Date: 7/29/14
Format: ARC
Pages: 320
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5 stars

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How do you learn to love again?

In one tragic moment, Holly Jefferson s life as she knows it changes for ever. Now to the external world, at least she s finally getting back on her feet, running her business, Cake. Then she meets Ciaran Argyll.

His rich and charmed life feels a million miles from her own. However, there s more to Ciaran than the superficial world that surrounds him, and he too is wrestling with his own ghosts. Will Holly find the missing ingredient that allows her to live again and embrace an unknown and unexpected tomorrow?

I always, always forget just how much I adore Women's Fiction until I start a new story. I'm particularly fond of those set in or around England. I feel like serendipity played a part in my receiving  Since You've Been Gone becaue it was exactly what I needed.
**Sidenote: I had the song "Since You've Been Gone" -the Pitch Perfect version, the entire time I read this!**

When the story begins, we have Holly Jefferson waiting on her husband Charlie. There seems to be some resentment going on, and it's more than the fact he's missed dinner. Something is off. As we soon realize, Charlie is dead, killed in an accident when he went into work on his day off. Charlie has been dead for nearly two years, but Holly hasn't fully moved on. She does well enough to put her friends and family at ease, but she waits for him, in her dreams. She refuses to continue to update the home they were remodeling. It's very, very sad obviously. Holly isn't consumed by her grief, but it's always there: when she gets mail addressed to Charlie, runs into his coworkers as she walks through the forests he loved, sees his uncompleted work in their home. She's knows he's not coming back and doesn't live in denial, but she's not moving forward. And at only two years, it's completely understandable.

Holly owns a bakery, Cake. When she's hired to deliver a very...interesting (hilarious and unappealing) cake to the lively Fergal Argyll, she briefly meets his son, Ciaran Argyll. Quickly brushing off the delivery and meeting, Holly is surprised when Ciaran shows up at Cake to return a form and order his own cake. Ciaran is polished and wealthy, nothing like her beloved Charlie. An awareness comes over her for the first time in years, and it makes Holly uncomfortable. Ciaran is a wealthy, worldly playboy, an Holly is a baker, content to live her quiet life. Ciaran was just a dream guy, though. He appreciates Hollys lack of interest in his wealth and her refreshingly honest and laid-back personality. What's really important to me, as well-something I always look for in a story with a widowed spouse-is Ciaran's respect for Hollys husband, and the love she still holds for him. That is so important to me. It's way too easy, and sometimes offensive, when the deceased is portrayed as flawed and unimportant, therefore leaving the loved one to move on with little complication. This is important to Holly, obviously, and helps set her at ease. But, she's so reluctant to take another chance on love. To act in what she believes is a betrayal to Charlie's memory, and to move on.

The lovely characters and their delicate romance sets Since You've Been Gone up so nicely. What's even better is that the author nailed the execution. The story is emotionally heavy, appropriately, but never veered into full-on depressing. There were moments in which we experience Holly's profound grief, and then we get Ciaran's dad flashing his goods. Or her employee unabashedly getting it on with a celebrity at a work function. We had Ciaran's own emotional moments, how the loss of his mum devastated him and his father, how a betrayal tore him apart. And then, we'd get his dad shooting an elephant gun and scaring them. The funny, quirky moments balanced very nicely with the drama.
Since You've Been Gone was such a big story, filled with rich characters, so many of whom I enjoyed. Employee Jesse is fun and very cool, a great friend who always seemed to know exactly what Holly needed. Her sister Martha is a bit overbearing but comes from a place of love and worry. Her pregnancy woes were adorable. Brother-in-law Rob is a big, loving guy who wants to keep his girls happy. Ciaran's dad was a delight, a Scot who's built a family fortune from nothing, and has spent that past thirteen years in bouts of booze and depression (and women) to ease the loss of his beloved wife, and who's ridiculous, oafish charm made Holly (and me) smile.

This book really had it all. A fantastic heroine with a strong sense of self and a difficult and brave emotional journey. A hero who's heart and words were true and strong. Excellent supporting cast. A hilarious birth scene. A hilarious flashing kilt scene. And a fulfilling, engaging love story. I cried several times, I smiled even more. What a fantastic story, fantastic debut. I highly recommend Since You've Been Gone to fans of women's fiction and romance. Anouska Knight is definitely on my watch list!

Favorite Quotes
  If the voice alone hadn't told me which Argyll was coming, the athletic line of his thighs and other things through those joggers did. I tried to get my grimace back, but when I Iooked at the woman next to me I was met with an expression of total bafflement. I couldn't do this! I couldn't be friendly and annoyed at the same time!
 He looked at me, unsure, and then again be pulled my horse closer before his hand found its place again at the back of my neck. He sat there, holding me they way, giving me a fighting chance to say no, but I was ready for him this time, I knew what to do... I saw him lean in this time, watching him draw all the way in before I let him kiss me again. Slowly, sweetly, as though he were opening his favorite present.
  "Yes, I want to be like my father. To be driven insane by a woman because of how much I love her and how much she loves me. My father loved my mother since the day he first saw her playing in the street when he was eight years old, and every day since." He leant in, just a breath away from my mouth. I watched his lips as he spoke. "I want to feel that, too, Holly, to be maddened by it. For it to be real."
  I couldn't say it. Not yet. But I could feel it, lingering there on my lips, waiting to be spoken. I pushed myself up on tiptoes, and let him feel the words were they lay, ready to be released into the world when the time came. This kiss was my promise to him that I would never use him, or care where he bought his clothes, or leave him for a bigger number. And his promise to me? He didn't need one.

About Anouska Knight
Rookie author of women's fiction with a penchant for love, laughter and peanut M&Ms (In no particular order)

 photo AndreaSig_zps3f75055b.jpg


  1. It's so funny, but as soon as I saw the cover I started singing the song. Kelly's version though. This one sounds so cute and I love that cover. The story seems great too, only problem is that I usually don't enjoy Women's Fiction. Maybe I just haven't found the right book. Great review, Andrea :)

  2. I have Kelly's song in my head now! :) Sounds like you really enjoyed this book. And the book sounds wonderful!

  3. We can't HELP but sing it. The. Entire. Time. And I love that name, Ciaran. My friend is dating an Irishman named Ciaran! This sounds like a good story -- I'm really curious about the cake...

  4. I love that cover so much. It's so cute and now I'm hungry for cake. :)
    This sounds like such a sweet and great story, Andrea. I love the sound of the characters and I love that Ciaran has a lot of respect for Holly's husband. That in itself is such an attractive quality. And those quotes you shared really made me swoon. :)
    I think I'm going to have to add this to my TBR.
    Lovely review, Andrea! I'm so happy you loved this one.

  5. Gah! These used to be my favorite type of books. They're kind of hard to find now - the really good ones anyway.

    I want to read this right now but I guess I have to wait a week. *pouts* lol (As if I don't have enough to read!)

    Great review Andrea :-)

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

  6. I'm not much into Women's Fic/Chick Lit, but the funny thing is that I would have picked this book up for the cover! It's really cute :)
    Btw, your review is lovely and I'm happy this book was such a wonderful read!

  7. Excellent review, Andrea. Since You've Been Gone sounds amazing. I love the sound of the story and the well-developed characters. Plus, I love a story set in England, too. :) I'm going to be reading this one!

  8. Sounds emotional yet adorable. great review

  9. Sounds like a lovely story. That's great that Ciaran respects her husband. I think I would like this one!

  10. It's so clear how much you enjoyed this story and it really sounds like the author did a fabulous job with this one. Awesome review.

  11. I've never been a fan of women's lit. This does look good and I'm glad you enjoyed it.

  12. I've not really tried all that much women's fiction but hmm might need to start giving it a go. I'm so loving that cover!

  13. This sounds like something I'd love. Great review!

  14. This is such a wonderful review, Andrea! This book sounds amazing. A little bit of everything that I'd love. I'm off to check it out! :)

  15. I think I need to read this. You know I love Women's Fiction. I love the cover of this one too.


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