About the Book:
Title: Just the Way You Are
Author: Beth Moran
Synopsis: A novel about friendship, romance and learning to love yourself – just the way you are. When Olivia Tennyson – or Ollie to her friends – was sixteen, she wrote a Dream List of all the things she wanted for her life, including a happy marriage and a family. But at twenty-nine, Ollie is single, living at home with her over-protective and manipulative mother, and is feeling like her dreams are getting further out of reach.
It’s time for a change.
It’s time to take matters into her own hands.
Without telling her mum, or more importantly, asking her permission, Ollie finds the perfect place to start her new life. End Cottage has a duck-egg blue front door, a garden that leads to acres of forest, and definitely counts as her dream home.
Now all Ollie has to do is complete the rest of her list and find out who she really is, before she can imagine any romance coming into her life. After all, how is she going to find her dream man in the middle of a forest…
Purchase Link: https://amzn.to/3DunLYt
Ollie Tennyson is twenty-nine years old, and she has never lived on her own. With a controlling and manipulative mother who guilts Ollie into staying in a toxic environment, Ollie finds it difficult to make the jump towards independence. However, when her mother foils a Valentine’s date, Ollie decides she’s had enough. She purchases a home, moves out, and blocks her hounding mother, determined to complete her bucket list before getting involved with anyone. But then Ollie meets her neighbors, and she soon realizes that her journey has only just begun.
Ollie is such a dynamic and likable character, and her story is relatable and interesting. The book focuses on Ollie taking control of her life and learning to live on her own without the destructive influence of her overbearing mother. Emotionally controlled for her entire adult life, Ollie makes some major changes and puts herself first for the first time in her life. It’s great to see her embrace life, learn what is important to her, create boundaries, and cultivate new and fulfilling relationships, which stands in sharp contrast to the toxic relationship she has with her mother.
The story touches on difficult subjects, including death, toxic and abusive relationships, mental illness, physical illness, money issues, and more. Faced with so many new experiences and new relationships, as well as some concerns regarding said relationships, Ollie is lucky to have a great support system in place. Her long-time best friend, her aunt, and others prove encouraging and supportive of Ollie’s new life and act as strong sounding boards. Moving away from a parent can be difficult at any age, and when you have a manipulative and abusive mother like Ollie’s, I would imagine the feelings are very complicated. I thought the author addressed these conflicting feelings well – the relief and guilt, the sadness and happiness, the sense of freedom and fear of being alone. There’s so much to unravel, and Ollie learns a lot about herself throughout her journey.
The relationship Ollie develops with Joan is one of my favorite parts of the story. I think both Joan and Ollie learn a lot from each other, and their connection is so sweet and lovely. They have a shared love of reading, which is the kind of neighbor I would love! Ollie also develops a great friendship with Joan’s mother, as well as several other people in the story. Ollie has a way of breaking down others’ walls. From Joan’s cynical mother to her introverted and curmudgeonly neighbor to the people she helps with literacy struggles to the ornery and unwelcoming librarian, Ollie sees past the surface and tries to befriend these seemingly friendless people. I think Ollie learns what it means to be connected to people without being manipulated and burdened by relationships. She also learns how to set boundaries and stick up for herself, which is fantastic! And these secondary characters are great (except Ollie’s mother. She’s a troll.). Each character is layered and dynamic and has a compelling story to tell. I could easily see a sequel that focuses on several of these interesting people.
The love story is another wonderful part of the story, though it did not dominate the plot. The story focuses more on Ollie’s transformation, which, in turn, contributes to the development of new relationships, including her relationship with Sam. It’s too bad she has a no-man mandate because this ranger is hunky and sweet! He has such a great personality, and he is so calm and patient. He and Ollie both have complicated relationships with members of their families, and it’s interesting to see how they each deal with these issues. I like how their relationship slowly builds, and I rooted for them to find happiness together despite the obstacles in front of them.
A story of self-discovery, self-acceptance, and finding love when you least expect it, Just the Way You Are is a heart-warming and thought-provoking read that I would most definitely recommend to readers of contemporary fiction or romance.
A tiny chance is still a chance. And that makes it worth it.
I would recommend Just the Way You Are to readers of contemporary fiction.
About the Author:
Beth Moran is the author of four novels, including the bestselling Christmas Every Day. She regularly features on BBC Radio Nottingham and is a trustee of the national women’s network Free Range Chicks. She lives on the outskirts of Sherwood Forest.
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