Title: Art & Soul
Author: Claire Huston
Publication Date: April 23, 2020
Synopsis: A heart-warming, uplifting romance served with a generous slice of cake
There’s no problem Becky Watson can’t fix. Except her own love life…
Struggling single mother Becky Watson longs to revive her career as a life-fixer, working miracles to solve her clients’ problems, no matter how big or small. Since the birth of her two-year-old son she has been stuck preventing wedding fiascos for the richest and rudest residents of the Comptons, a charming, leafy area of southern England known for its artistic heritage.
So when semi-reclusive local artist Charlie Handren reluctantly hires Becky to fix his six-year creative slump, she’s delighted to set him up with a come-back exhibition and Rachel Stone, the woman of his dreams.
Though they get off to a rocky start, Becky and Charlie soon become close. But as the beautiful Rachel becomes Charlie’s muse, Becky is forced to wonder: will giving Charlie everything he wants mean giving up her own happily ever after?
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Art & Soul is a wonderful contemporary romance with well-developed characters, an interesting story, and a lovely slow-building romance that includes themes of family, friendship, and starting over. The book follows Becky, a life coach tasked with aiding Charlie, a reclusive artist in a major slump. Can she pull Charlie out of his slump and help him straighten out his life while figuring out her own life as well? Becky and Charlie’s relationship starts tumultuously. However, as Charlie finds his muse in another art aficionado, he and Becky slowly realize that love can be found in the most unexpected of places.
One of my favorite aspects of the story is the fabulous cast of characters. Becky, for example, is so determined and driven, and she has an excellent take-charge personality. She’s not dissuaded by the obstacles that get in her way, which I admire. I also find it interesting that though Becky is great at reading other people and fixing their lives, she is not as attuned to her own feelings and desires. Her character is so well-layered and relatable and definitely one of my favorites in the story.
In contrast, where Becky is more outgoing and forthcoming, Charlie is introverted and finds it difficult to express himself. He is fully aware of his feelings but struggles to verbalize them. Though Becky and Charlie are quite different, they do have some things in common. They both love their children, they are both recovering from failed relationships, and they are both starting over. They also both have a deep respect for different kinds of art, another aspect of the story that I loved! Throughout the story, there are references to art and literature that are fantastic!
Becky and Charlie develop a good working relationship and a strong friendship before they realize that it might have grown into something more. The way that Charlie takes to Becky’s two-year-old son Dylan is endearing, as is the way he steps up when Becky finds herself incapacitated. Becky, not used to letting others take charge, sees Charlie in a whole new light. Their relationship grew naturally and charmingly and shows how two very different people can find love with each other.
Dylan isn’t the only fabulous secondary character. Becky’s meddlesome friend Ronnie, Charlie’s bright teenaged daughter Phoebe, and the mysterious and wealthy Lloyd all stole my heart and added the perfect mix of levity and realism to the story. I particularly appreciated Ronnie as she is honest, observant, helpful, and an all-around good friend. Plus, she bakes the most fantastic sounding desserts!
A heart-warming, feel-good contemporary romance, the novel also delves into some deeper issues. The author explores divorce, dealing with the difficulties of parenting, and opening yourself up to love again with honesty and realism. Who hasn’t dealt with a difficult client, an impatient toddler, or a meddling best friend? The messages and characters throughout the story are very relatable and relevant.
I loved Art and Soul! It’s the perfect light yet layered read that I thoroughly enjoyed reading. And this is her debut novel! Claire Huston is a dynamic storyteller, and I’m so thankful to have received a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.
- The romance, of course! Becky and Claire had a rocky relationship to start, but it bloomed into a lovely match.
- The character development. The characters are well-layered and interesting!
- The strong messages. I liked watching the characters learn and grow, and the messages are relevant and relatable.
- I’m totally showing my age, but I had Rod Stewart’s Heart and Soul stuck in my head for days, and that wasn’t a bad thing! lol
There was something so still about his presence that to Becky, someone who existed in constant scrambling motion, standing next to Charlie was like wandering into the eye of a storm, the one calm spot in the center of chaos.
This is a great read for people who like contemporary romance with dynamically developed characters, a strong story-line, and awesome references to art and literature!