Friday, November 17, 2023

The Shape of Love

The Sound of Love

If you’ve been reading my blog posts for a while, you’ll know that I focus on later-in-life love quite a bit. I feel that this kind of relationship is a transition stage that very often gets overlooked, so when I come across books that include seasoned lovers, or midlife lovers, I snap up the opportunity to devour them. 

This month, I have 3 relationship-altering stories for you that will make you see love from a fresh perspective of youth through to maturity across a range of environments from castles to ghetto kids to small-town every day kids.

I’ll start with the seasoned love in a castle story because it was on my tbr list the longest. I discovered the titles written by Jasmine Guillory when researching ‘factual fiction’ for my own writing projects. This one is called The Royal Holiday.

Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory

Vivian is a single midlifer who is coaxed into going on holiday to England with her daughter, while she works on the Christmas wardrobe of the resident Duchess. 
Vivian almost instantly meets Mr Hot Chocolate, aka Malcolm who is the Queen’s private secretary. On a small hiatus from work engagements, he offers to take Vivian on a tour of Sandringham House, the stables, the Victoria and Albert Museum and various posh restaurants for dinner; a veritable courting indeed!

 Vivian is reluctant to let her feelings flow because of the short-term arrangement of such a friendship, however, she quickly realizes the deliciousness of having someone to talk to:

Someone to flirt with. Someone to laugh with. Someone – a male someone – who clearly enjoyed her company.

This passage truly struck a chord with me. How often do you get the opportunity to just chat back and forth freely with someone who is attentive to your every word; someone who listens without interruption and without agenda to amend or add their opinion to your own? Someone who simply allows you to be you. 

Their relationship quickly becomes multi-layered as they both fall for each other and Malcolm invites Vivian to extend her holiday and, well, I’ll leave you to find out the solution they arrive at.

The author expertly displays Vivian’s insecurities as a woman out of her comfort zone, as well as Malcolm’s uncertainty of entering the dating field once more. She unveils a depth of feeling as they both thrash out their thoughts openly with each other and discover the sweet comfort of being vulnerable in the confines of a trusting cocoon. Until they are thrust into unknown territory when Vivian’s extended holiday comes to an end.

I’ve given this book a four star review, simply because there was just one scene with a tad too much spice for my liking. It was unexpected in this story of light humour and polite courting, so I just wanted to warn any unsuspecting clean romance readers like me.

Find out more info about Jasmine Guillory here: Instagram: Jasmine Guillory


I ‘met’ Jodi Gibson on the Facebook Group, Global Girls Online Book Club for her author of the day feature. Her stories immediately gripped me with strong female protagonists – she quotes: You have to consider who they are at the start of the book and how the story will change them…you need to know their flaws, emotional wounds, their fears which will all inform the story. I decided to start with her debut novel, The Memories We Hide.

The Memories We Hide by Jodi Gibson

Laura and Ryan meet as teenagers at school in the midst of exam stress, increasing freedom at social outings and a host or hormonal changes. Laura is riddled with anxiety when Ryan seems to lose interest in their relationship, until she discovers the emotional rollercoaster he was on, himself:

Hindsight and wisdom were no use to her teenage emotions…they were both young and afraid…compounded by emotions they couldn’t understand.

As Laura matured and hindsight gave her the clarity she sought, she realised that she had been in love with the ‘idea’ of Ryan, of perfect young love. She came to appreciate the wisdom of knowing that ‘real love’ was deep under many layers of meaning. Real love was often overlooked for the shiny gem of young love… 

The author’s knowledge of psychology plays a big part in The Memories We Hide as she reveals the mental anguish often felt by youngsters who are too afraid to speak out for fear of ridicule. Gibson has systematically worked through the mental resolve of the characters in her book as she outlines solutions relatable to each, through the insight of her protagonist, Laura.

As to whether Laura finds her ‘real love’ or not, you’ll have to find that out for yourself.

It’s rare to find a story that follows the love life of a youngster through to adulthood, and while this isn’t in what I would call the midlife category, it certainly is in the mature love category. The books value lies in the uncovering of love in its many shapes.

Five stars from me, but be aware that their are mental health issues discussed quite openly in the book.

Check out Jodi Gibson’s info at the link: Instagram: Jodi Gibson


I want to be VERY CLEAR when I say that this next book is most definitely not a book about love in the sense of romance, but it is a book about misguided love, conditional/unconditional love and covers a lot of sensitive trauma. That said, Kirsty Jagger is an author of high esteem in my opinion as she digs deep to reveal the grit and tenacity of never giving up through it all.

Roseghetto by Kirsty Jagger

Are you doing what’s best for you? And not just you as you are today. But you in ten, twenty, thirty years from now. Are you on the right path to get you where you want to be?

Shayla’s Pop is her mainstay and the author of Roseghetto, Kirsty Jagger, highlights the importance throughout the story, of having someone to talk to, to rely on, and the devastating effects when that void is not filled. 

The story is harrowing for sure, but we start with the adult Shayla which has a softening effect on the trauma she went through, simply because we know she came out the other side, not unscathed, but free from the cycle in which she was raised. 

We follow young Shayla through childhood as she struggles to understand the adult world around her, but ends up being the one offering sage advice to her mother: Trust you intuition. Our gut instincts are usually right. Advice she receives from a school counselor, and, thankfully, takes to heart.

Whilst this doesn’t erase her past, it gives her the tenacity to believe in herself and we see a teenage Shalya start to stand up for herself, to speak out for herself and to wage war on those who have wronged her.

The story reminds us that we have options, that we can start small, start at the bottom of the ladder, but making a start is what it takes to get out of a rut you don’t want to be in.

Five stars from me, but I would label this book a sensitive read. The redeeming factor of Roseghetto is the unbreakable bond between mother and daughter, even if it does come from the daughter relentlessly, unconditionally and steadfastly. We do, however, see glimpses of the wrath of a mother who’s child has been wronged and is forced into a system against all common sense. In fact, I think that was my favourite scene, when Shayla’s mom fought back for her. It felt like a pivot for Shayla too as she witnesses the sound of love in her mother’s defense of her.

Let’s lighten the mood with a touch of humour shall we? Some parents run a tight ship. I run a pirate ship. There is some swearing, some drinking, and a touch of mutiny from the tiny crew I created. Not my joke, credit unknown, obtained from Pinterest.

In all seriousness, you are the Captain of your own ship, so sail into your future with the confidence of a skipper who knows where they are going, just like our three protagonists as shown in the stories above.

Do you have any similar book recommendations you’d like to share? 

For more reviews and relationship discussions like these, remember to subscribe below:

Elora Canne is a relationship writer who strives to highlight stories that strengthen the bond between couples, families, friends and even one’s self.

Her memoir, En Route, is available on Amazon in paperback and ebook format.


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