Hello Kath and Squizzey, thank you so much for letting me be a guest here on your lovely blog!
For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Christina Courtenay, and I write historical novels with a hint (sometimes more!) of the Far East. As my second novel The Scarlet Kimono is going to be published soon, I’m following in the footsteps of my fellow Choc Lit-eer, Jane Lovering, by going on a blog tour, which is very exciting. And it starts right here!
I know that it’s usually all about the squirrels here at The Nut Press but today sees the start of Chinese New Year, heralding in the Year of the Rabbit. So, I think it’s only right and proper that I feature a very special little grey bunny rabbit, Harriet Houdini, especially as her second book Stunt Bunny: Tour Troubles is out today.
Jemima Hutton is determined to build a successful new life and keep her past a dark secret. Trouble is, her jewellery business looks set to fail – until enigmatic Ben Davies offers to stock her handmade belt buckles in his guitar shop and things start looking up, on all fronts.
But Ben has secrets too. When Jemima finds out he used to be the front man of hugely successful Indie rock band Willow Down, she wants to know more. Why did he desert the band on their US tour? Why is he now a semi-recluse?
And the curiosity is mutual – which means that her own secret is no longer safe …
When Jane Lovering visited The Nut Press to kick off her blog tour for Please Don’t Stop the Music at the beginning of January, she promised us a novel full of Dark Secrets. I’m happy to report that she fully delivers on that. So much so that she had me doing something I rarely get the chance to do anymore. I ignored everyone and everything around me until I had read Please Don’t Stop the Music from cover to cover in one sitting.
It wasn’t only the promised Dark Secrets that were responsible for this, but also the characters. In Jane’s book, they’re refreshingly different to the ones you often find between the pages of a romantic novel. The characters in Please Don’t Stop the Music are very much an “alternative” cast: they certainly don’t have perfect lives, nor are they perfect themselves. These are flawed human beings with problems, handicaps or baggage. I loved that about them because they were all the more real for it. Not only did I actually believe that they could exist out there somewhere in the real world but I also thought that if I ever met them, I would like them and possibly even be friends with some of them.
The main character, Jemima Hutton, is a gifted jewellery artist who wields sarcasm about her like a ferocious ninja in skinny jeans. This defence mechanism helps protect someone who is a flawed and deeply troubled young woman, continually on the run from her past. While searching for stockists for her jewellery, she meets the enigmatic Ben Davies, who now works in a music shop but was once in an indie band. As their friendship develops, it threatens to upset her coping mechanisms and force her to share her secrets with him. But Ben’s also keeping a secret of his own and Jemima has a similar impact on him. How he feels about this is cleverly conveyed through extracts from a journal he keeps.
Please Don’t Stop the Music is funny, poignant and heartbreaking in places. I really felt for the characters, both because of what they had gone through and what they were having to deal with now, as a result of their pasts. Jane handles her characters’ stories with great understanding and dexterity and, for me, it’s a fantastic example of how to sensitively incorporate disabilities and troubled backgrounds into romantic fiction. Before you start thinking that the book is altogether too dark for you, it’s not. I laughed a lot too. Jane puts her wonderfully unique sense of humour to very effective use throughout.
Please Don’t Stop the Music was an exhilaratingand livelyread because it was so full of life. Real life. It feels like a fresh take on romantic fiction because this is something that could happen to people that you or I might know in the real world. It’s a book about friendships, about how they change, grow and develop, and, most of all, about how important they are, and can be, in all our lives. I know that I’ll remember these characters and their story long after closing the book on them. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this, my first Jane Lovering novel, and I can’t wait to see what she writes next. In the meantime, I’ll be checking out her back catalogue until the next exciting new release from her.