RELEASED: July 12, 2018
PUBLISHER: Simon & Schuster
GOODREADS RATING: 4.33
Jess, a 29-year-old Londoner with a Kate Beckett fringe and a tendency for dramatics, gets taken on a surprise trip by her long-term boyfriend, Pete, to attend her best friend’s last minute wedding in South Africa. Jess imagines sun, sand, wine and safaris. And returning to London with an ethically mined diamond on her left hand…
But this holiday isn’t set to be quite the fairy tale Jess has planned… and suddenly she finds her world tilting on its axis. And things are only set to get worse when Jess returns home…
Today’s one of those days were something rare happens: I’m part of a blog tour. [Actually, I’m the last stop so I’m wrapping things up with my review!] I rarely participate in tours, but I really wanted to share this book because I believe it to be one of a kind.
Set in South Africa – more specifically Cape Town – I was intrigued immediately. I love romance novels set in different countries outside of the “ordinary” London and Paris ones. Romance in Africa? Count me in!
Like I said, I loved the setting of this novel. Most of it is set in Cape Town, South Africa and it honestly made me want to go there. I love it when novels succeed at making you long to visit a faraway place you haven’t been to yet and, seriously, now I really want to see a giraffe from close-by myself. Some day. Why can’t holidays be ridiculously cheap?
Being about 400 pages, Make or Break definitely isn’t a thin book but that didn’t stop me from flying through it. Jess’ life is turned upside down and inside out which made it impossible for me to stop reading. I just wanted to know if she’d figure everything out, if she’d end up being okay.
Even though I saw some twists coming miles off, there also were things I didn’t see coming at all. It was refreshing to be surprised in that way because I can honestly tell you that I had not seen a twist like that one before!
Our main character, Jess, has anxiety and struggles with paranoia, which made this book even better in my opinion. Although this isn’t actual slam-in-your-face anxiety, I could totally understand why it’s hard for both her and the people close to her to cope but it made it equally beautiful to see how she tries to handle everything. Not to mention the fact that she is brilliant at being funny, bad at being punny and overall just a joy to read about.
I do have to admit that I sometimes struggled with her anxiety but I guess, in a way, that’s normal since I don’t have to cope with it myself. I also don’t have anyone in my environment with anxiety. This made Jess sometimes come across as downright negative, thinking the worst and even the most ridiculous bad things in any situation she found herself in. I understood it, I did, but at times it got tiring to read her rants and… I don’t know. I feel bad about getting annoyed by it but I couldn’t really help myself?
Overall it’s an enjoyable read that makes you value the people you love and that transports you to a country you’ll suddenly wish to visit.
As for the munches, Jess eats a bowl of cookies at some point and I couldn’t let that slide by! I didn’t necessarily put them in a bowl, but I did bake myself some almond cookies and put some artsy chocolate on top. They were sooooo good. Especially two days after making them when they weren’t sticking to my teeth as much as they did at first, haha.
And as a little something extra, Catherine has written a piece on why she picked Cape Town as the setting for Make or Break. Honestly, it made me want to book a holiday immediately!
Why I Set My Second Book In Cape Town
Cape Town is a city we moved to for my husband’s work and unexpectedly fell in love with. I had a perception of South Africa, mostly based on news articles or chilling stories from expat South African’s in London, and it turned out to be completely incorrect. In the best possible way.
You can take a trip to South Africa and have a totally different type of holiday to someone else.
Is your idea of a nice break to scale, descend, dive, leap, fly and plunge in, off and on to things? (You mad thing, you,) Well, Cape Town will definitely provide. It will also provide myriad opportunities to sip chilled rosé at sun dappled tables in the vast manicured grounds of a stately winery, do a little afternoon (tipsy) shopping along the sunny street of an old French village, then have sundowners at a trendy beachside bar, your feet in the sand and your table most likely next to Penélope Cruz and Javiar Bardem. (Actually happened. Just not to me.)
You can go on a safari and watch a solitary giraffe slope across the plains at sunrise; an activity that will have you mentally penning your resignation letter in order to devote your life to protecting this awe-inspiring land of wonders. You can be so busy staring at a herd of elephants while you self-drive yourself and your family through a game reserve that you end up stopping right beside the brand-new baby rhino and its violently protective mum and dad who the reserve owner told you to get no closer than 50 metres to. You’ll have to frantically phone for backup while daddy rhino stares your down with his ears wiggling back and forth, and your saviour will be the reserve owner’s 12-year-old son on a quad bike. He’ll lead the rhino family away and you’ll drive on in your rented Honda feeling very much like an out-of-depth townie. (Actually happened. To us. Gin and tonics (x3) calmed the nerves.)
Poolside cocktails and busy nightlife more your thing? There is an abundance. As there is of music, shopping, sun, beaches, culture, nature reserves and jaw dropping vistas. Add to this the fact that locals are a happy, life-loving, welcoming, extremely good-looking bunch and you have the perfect environment for a romantic comedy.
Cape Town’s ability to provide for almost any holidaymaker helped create the friction I needed between my main character, Jess (wanting the sun, sand, winery and safari kind of break) and her long-term boyfriend, Pete, who discovers a previously undetected desire for zip-lining, canyoning, rock climbing and seal diving.
Make or Break is a romantic comedy, but the undertone is basically a love letter to Cape Town.
P.S. My son just walked past and asked what I was doing. I explained the article then asked how he felt about South Africa and he replied ‘It was a peak in my life time’ and walked out of the room. He’s nine.
Curious to see what else this blog tour had to offer? Be sure to visit the previous stops!
Do you like reading stories set in completely unknown places to you, like Cape Town is to me? Or are you more likely to stick with cities like Paris, New York and London?
Did Catherine’s piece on Cape Town make you want to book a holiday stat as well?!