A Thousand Steps

A Thousand Steps
A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Aria's Travelling Book Shop by Rebecca Raisin- Feature and Review

Aria’s Travelling Book Shop
By Rebecca Raisin
Releasing April 8th 2020
HQ Digital


With her merry band of Van Lifers, Aria heads to France in her travelling bookshop, best friend Rosie by her side for a summer they’ll never forget!

Hopeless romantic Aria vowed never to love again after losing her husband, TJ, but fate has other ideas and keeps throwing the bespectacled, booklover Jonathan in her path. When a memento from TJ turns up it brings Aria’s past back to the fore.
Nomadic by nature, Aria can’t see how love could work anyway when home is always at the end of a new patch of road…
A long, hot summer travelling off the beaten track, surrounded by newly loved up couples reminds Aria of what she’s missing.
Will she bookmark her love life at the point her husband left, or she will begin a new chapter under the sizzling sun of the Cote d’azure…?

Rosie is quiet as she toys with her beaded bracelet, winding it round and round. These goodbyes are harder for her – this is her first year as a nomad. ‘I suppose when we’re old and grey and looking back we’ll have all these incredible memories of people who stepped into our lives, changing them in some indelible way, before stepping out again.’
‘I love that.’ I picture an elderly Rosie and Max on some weather-beaten porch, fragrant homemade tea in hand, still in love. And then I picture my future silver-haired self. Driving never-ending roads, alone. But I’d still have my books, wouldn’t I? Rollicking romances to fill my days and inspire dreams, fictional friends to see me through…
But as I gaze around the room at loved up couples, loved up non-fiction couples, I feel a pang of loneliness despite being surrounded by people who care about me.
Deep in thought, I’m jarred back to the present by an elbow to the ribs from Rosie. ‘What?’ I ask.
Her eyes are fixed on a man standing by the bar; even from this distance I recognise those broad shoulders of his, and the way he stands, hands deep in pockets. He seems contemplative as he waits patiently, as if he’s half elsewhere, lost in thought.
‘It’s Jonathan!’ she says far too loudly. I clamp a hand over her mouth, ignoring the fact I’m probably smearing her lipstick. I feel her laugh reverberate through my palm.
‘Will you shush! We don’t want to get his attention.’ My heart pounds as I try to make sense of him being here of all places. Now of all times.
She battles free, her lipstick only slightly smudged. ‘Why wouldn’t we want to get his attention? Aren’t we going to say hello, at least?’ Her eyebrows pull together. Rosie only sees black and white, there’s no grey area for her.
While I struggle with how to explain, I turn back in his direction and sneak a peek at the guy who has stolen into my thoughts far too often since we met. His dark hair is longer and curls around the nape of his neck. He’s lovely even in side profile. There’s something sensuous about his mouth, and before I get lost to it, I shake the traitorous thoughts away. Seeing him again after all this time has given me a jolt, that’s all. I wiggle sideways trying to hide behind Rosie, who frustratingly wiggles further away.
Jonathan and I met at a music festival last year, and he’d been endlessly fascinated about the way we lived our lives on the road. It’d been effortless chatting away with him, almost as if we were long lost friends, reunited. He’d listened when I talked, as if he weighed every word that fell from my mouth. It’d been the first time since my husband died that I’d felt a teeny tiny little spark in my heart but I soon pushed it away. And rightfully so. I made a promise and I’m sticking to it.
Seeing Jonathan here though, spotlight shining on him as if a direction to act, has quite knocked my legs from under me. Thank god I’m sitting down.
‘Well?’ Rosie prods.
‘Well what? We’re not going to say a single word, Rosie! We’re going to hide in this corner and hope he leaves.’ I sip my drink and pretend to be completely disinterested.
‘Why?’ Confusion muddies the icy blue of her eyes. ‘Admit he made your pulse race, that he caused your bodice to rip, made your bosoms—’
Who even uses the word bosoms these days?! I shake my head at her teasing my love of romance novels and the clich├ęd way non-believers describe them. ‘Made my bosoms… what?’
 ‘Erm… bounce?’ she says, searching for the right word and coming up short.
‘Can you hear yourself? He made my bosoms bounce? Where do you get this stuff, Rosie, honestly?’ I laugh, in spite of it all.
She breaks into a fit of giggles and then her face lights up as if clarity dawns, ‘He makes your bosoms heave! That’s the phrase, isn’t it?’
‘If my bosoms were heaving Rosie, I’d be off to get medical help, for goodness’ sake!’ I hide behind my hands, sure she’s attracted the attention of the entire bar, and not just lusty-looking Jonathan. Our Rosie doesn’t quite have the same filter the rest of us have so I should be used to it by now. But, by golly. I peek between my fingers and sure enough all of London is staring at us yet somehow Jonathan is still facing the other way. Small mercies and all that.


Aria’s Travelling Book ShopAria’s Travelling Book Shop by Rebecca Raisin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Aria’s Travelling Bookshop by Rebecca Raisin is a 2020 HQ Digital publication.

A lovely story about overcoming grief, the healing power of books, and a wonderful homage to romance novels and authors!

After losing her husband, TJ, to cancer three years ago, Aria had been living a nomadic life as a ‘Van Lifer’ and selling books is her trade. Now, she and her best friend, Rosie, are heading to France!

The last person Aria expected to run into was Jonathan- the man that has awakened feelings she thought had died with TJ.

But. despite her attraction to Jonathan, she prefers to enjoy romance vicariously, via her beloved romance novels, because she has promised TJ, she would never fall in love again. He was her once in a lifetime true love and no one will ever be able to take his place in her heart.

However, when Aria’s estranged mother-in-law forwards her TJ’s diary, it is both a blessing and an emotional drain. While reading TJ’s words, Aria feels his presence,as though he is sending Aria a clear message-one she can’t bring herself to accept.

With the help of Rosie’s gentle urgings, TJ’s diary, and Jonathan’s easy charm, Aria begins to entertain the possibility of giving love another chance. Can she make peace with her in laws and open her heart up to love a second time?

While the story is not heavy, be assured there is plenty of depth and emotion to it. I pulled out one of my precious, rationed tissues on at least one occasion. I also loved how prominently romance novels were featured- reminding me of how healing and cathartic love stories are, especially when one’s mind and heart are troubled. Aria has pretty good taste in books, giving a shoutout to a few great authors along the way. (Maeve Binchey is an author everyone should read at least once.)

For those who read the first book in this series, Rosie and Max are very involved in this second installment and have a few surprises coming their way too.

Anytime I pick up a book by Rebecca Raisin it’s a real treat. I’ve been a fan for a good while now and it has been a pleasure to see how well this author has blossomed as a writer and storyteller. This story is a wonderful, cathartic tale that will appeal to book lovers in general, but it will especially touch those who are romantics at heart. Aria’s journey is poignant and bittersweet as she searches her soul, fighting her way through grief and loneliness.

This is a touching story, which ultimately leads Aria to consider a future full of promise, hope and new beginnings. Raisin’s stories are good, healthy, uplifting stories that are good for the soul. But, this past week, this book has been a soothing balm for me. This is just the type of gentle, heart lifting story we could all use right now.


Author Info:

Rebecca Raisin is a true bibliophile. This love of books morphed into the desire to write them. She's been widely published in short story anthologies, and in fiction magazines. And now she is focusing on writing romance.

Rebecca aims to write characters you can see yourself being friends with. People with big hearts who care about relationships and believe in true love.

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