cover image The Beginning of Everything

The Beginning of Everything

Jackie Fraser. Dell, $17 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-0-593-72392-0

Jess Cavendish is the down-on-her-luck heroine of Fraser’s compulsively readable latest (after The Bookshop of Second Chances). After leaving her abusive boyfriend, Jess has been sleeping in a tent in Caerwyddon, Wales, until she stumbles across a recently sold house not yet occupied by its new owner and decides to squat. Said owner, Gethin Thomas, has been living with his sister following a difficult breakup from his TV star ex, so he’s eager for a fresh start—and to renovate his new home. When he discovers Jess on the property, he surprises her by offering to let her stay on as his housemate. (Jess insists on paying rent using her meager dishwasher’s salary.) As Gethin seeks her advice on paint colors and decor, the pair become fast friends, bonding amid trips to nearby castles and quiet weekends enjoying each other’s company. Love soon follows, but after spending a night together, Jess fears she isn’t ready for a new romance. Insecurities and misunderstandings on all sides threaten the emotional closeness the pair shared before they had sex. Can they find a way to smoothly transition from friends to lovers? Fraser refreshingly highlights everyday pleasures and problems as she traces the romance between two lonely people who couldn’t be more well matched. It’s as believable as it is heartwarming. Agent: Amy Fletcher, Fletcher & Co. (Sept.)