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Excess Baggage: a great summer romance

Title: Excess Baggage

Author: Laura Barnard

Edition reviewed: 2017

Publisher: Laura Barnard

Rating: ***.5

Genre: Romance

Setting: Luna Island

Difficulty: Easy Pages: 220

Series: Yes. First in the ‘Babes of Brighton’ series, but each novel is standalone.

Ebook - mybook.to/ExcessB / Audio - https://bit.ly/3kPJXDE

Always spoiler free.

Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this book by the author in return for an honest review.

I started reading this book on leave from work and honestly it’s a prefect holiday read! I wish I had been sat on a beach with my kindle instead of my London flat, but that’s the current situation for you. You could refer say this book was part of the ‘chick lit’ genre, but I find that term can have snobbish connotations so we’ll stick to the ‘romance’ label.

The plot follows Jack and Erica who find themselves reunited as adults after a rocky teenage holiday romance. Ironically, they both meet again when they are on holiday with their friends (a ‘lads’ holiday and ‘girls’ holiday retrospectively) at Luna Island. I have never heard of Luna Island, so could have done with a little more context to the holiday destination. After a quick google, I’m still not sure where it is, except in or near a Spanish speaking country (is it fictional?!). I also found the attitudes of the characters towards of the native people and culture problematic.

I like that Barnard splits the narrative of the novel between Jack and Erica. It’s nice to hear both sides of a love story, especially as this book has a series of misunderstandings. It also allows the reader a better understanding of the history and emotions each character was feeling, especially important given their mysterious past. I really enjoyed that their friends were there to support the main characters and provide honest and helpful advice, something which I found refreshing. However, I didn’t warm to Evelyn and couldn’t understand how Erica was still friends with her!

Personally, I would have liked the characters to be slightly more rounded, as hooking up is not the be-all or end-all, especially regarding the supporting cast. I also felt that the plot was slightly constrained by the ‘will they, won’t they’ troupe, which became slightly repetitive as it didn’t give Bernard much space to progress the plot. I would have been interested in following more of their relationship as it properly progressed! In that respect, I also found the ending was slightly anti-climactic. There is somewhat of a forgone conclusion in romance stories (girl gets guy) but I could have used a little bit more drama, or some more of a reaction to the ‘big secret’ revealed by Jack right at the end of book (it’s somewhat skipped over).

I can admit I’m probably not the audience Bernard is primarily appealing to – I do read romance novels but I didn’t find much to identify with in the characters (I’m a teetotal introvert!). This doesn’t mean I wasn’t able to enjoy the story, of course, just that I found it harder to connect with Erica and Jack then others might. I did love Erica’s clumsiness and awkwardness, something I identify with as someone with dyspraxia. I thought it was a cute addition!

The joy of books like Excess Baggage is they are a feel-good story coupled with a romance that makes your heart flutter. You aren’t purchasing Excess Baggage for a mystery or complex intrigue and suspense – you are looking for a bit of a laugh plus some hanky panky, which Barnard delivers in spades. All in all, I enjoyed reading the book and would recommend it to my romance loving friends.

Well Red Reviews

Would I recommend this book? A great holiday read. If you love romance novels, then a great read any time of the year!

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