Book Review

Review: The Second Chance Hotel by Rachel Dove

I think we can all agree that a cosy romance novel is the perfect distraction for current times. And one of my really niche favourite reading topics is ‘independent woman sets up her own business and does her best’ (and romance is a nice bonus). Unfortunately, this book didn’t give me much on the business, many feelings of genuine romance or even a coherent narrative …

Title: The Second Chance Hotel Second Chance Hotel
Author: Rachel Dove
Pages: ebook
Publisher: HQ Digital (Harper Collins)
Publication Date: 29th May 2020

Rating: 2 stars

April arrives in Cornwall after the long drive from Yorkshire with her entire life packed up into her car. Shady Pines holiday park is not only a fond memory from her past, it’s also her second chance at life. It’s also a second chance for handyman Cillian, who is desperately seeking a safe home for him and his young daughter. April must navigate the difficulties of running a holiday park, alongside her attraction to Cillian and managing her new neighbours and tenants.

The plot outline seemed perfectly simple – I could summarise the story really happily (as above). But what let it all down was the execution.

There were just too many things going on – April’s mother has recently died, and she’s mourning for her. Also she remembers Shady Pines as a safe space after her mother packed up and ran (from what?). April is also running from a bad marriage and unpleasant divorce. She has PCOS and has been unable to have children. It also means that she has intense mood swings. She’s a little curvy, maybe, and hates that. Her ex-husband would comment on it too so she has low self-esteem. Also she’s super clumsy. And also she put her life savings into the holiday park and is now down to her last pennies.

And that is just April.
Sadly, that level of complicated character and backstory means that so many of these important details are mentioned briefly, forgotten about and brought up again later.

There’s also Martha, who is the grouchy permanent tenant of the holiday park. She’s also an artist. She’s mourning Charlie, her husband, who died years ago. And is also keeping something secret. She also wants to go visit the art gallery in town but doesn’t quite dare.

And Cillian, and his daughter Orla, who are escaping their own bad past relationship. Cillian is also short on money, and on work, and is looking for somewhere safe to raise his young daughter.

And there are April’s (separate) neighbours, Judith and Henry, who I can count the number of times that I read about on one hand, but are apparently key players by the end of the story.

The novel also starts with a letter to You from the mysterious G. And there are a couple of letters spacing up the chapters, but without any real pattern. It’s like they seemed a good idea at the beginning and then were forgotten about partway through. You see how these letters are important later on, but there’s no real consistency to them.

That is also part of the problem – the inconsistencies. Reading this book, which wasn’t at all badly written, it often felt that it was missing a good strong proof-reader. There were times when a character said something, and then another answered after a couple of pages of inner thoughts and description. By which point you’d forgotten what the question was. Or it was stated that they had read something, but on the next page it said that they hadn’t. It seemed like the author had created too many loose threads to keep track of and that meant the reading was muddled at times.

The same goes for the time frame – I think a year had passed by the end of the story? But it could also have been 6 months? And at the beginning I wasn’t clear whether we were a week in or a month in at times. I’m not sure the author was either …

My other big issue was April and Cillian’s relationship. They were constantly described as moody, grumpy and hormonal (both of them). This isn’t something that was every really sorted out. Instead, it just faded away, having been used an excuse for some big arguments that weren’t ever really resolved. It seemed like Cillian was sharing all of his truths, whereas April was just sharing a bad attitude and blowing hot and cold and every now and again remembering to be insecure and not dealing with her own genuine issues at all. She was effectively a great big child.

And finally, the weird non-sex. I read ‘boobs’, ‘boobies’, ‘thingy’, ‘family jewels’ and ‘manhood’ but nothing that was actually, you know, anatomy. I also read romance for the intense feelings and, I have to say, the sex. I’ve read romance where the plot is utter rubbish but the sex is hot. I’ve read romance where the sex is clumsy or effectively redacted. Here, I couldn’t actually tell that it had happened. I had to read the paragraph over twice to work out what was going on. And I think it was sex. Probably?
It wasn’t just that it was ‘clean’ – it was just … gone.

I know romance can be hit and miss. And I’m often more critical of it than I should be. But oh man, this was not for me. Here, the author could have taken some of the story away to spend more actually developing her characters, or split it into two satisfying couple novels instead. Also, where was the hotel?

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.



3 thoughts on “Review: The Second Chance Hotel by Rachel Dove

  1. Omg I’m creasing about the non-sex. It sounds so very odd! I love a nice fluffy romance but personally I’m a bit tired of the woman escaping to the countryside/seaside where she sets up a business. But at least this one is a hotel, most of them seem to be bakery based…or maybe I’m just drawn to foodie books…. 🤔🤔 Great review lovely. Sorry this wasn’t quite the book you hoped it would be 💖💛❤️💜

    1. Thanks! I really fall for the the ‘sets up a business’ trope in TV too. It appeals to the non-existent entrepreneur in me!
      And I don’t mind when there’s no sex when the book doesn’t call for it. But when it seems like they will, and then maybe they do…? Can’t be doing with that, mate.

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