4.5 stars

THE PLOT: ‘Seven Days in June’ by Tia Williams is a romance about two writers. In 2019, successful single-mother Eva Mercy and recovered alcoholic Shane Hall meet at a literary event. Eva’s ashamed to admit that Shane broke her heart when they were troubled teenagers. She doesn’t want anyone to know that she was a 17-year-old who dodged her mother’s creepy boyfriends and self-medicated to cope with chronic illness. Now they’re grown up and acclaimed authors, Eva’s determined not to let Shane break her heart again. But she needs to know what happened during those seven days in June.

RATING: Usually, I don’t like romance, books about writers or novels where most of the action is backstory. Unusually, I absolutely loved this book. The characters’ pasts and issues with chronic illness and addiction added an unexpected depth. While the love interest, Shane Hall, is completely unlikeable – and ostensibly Eva deserves better – I found him and their love totally believable. Additionally, the inclusion of Eva’s daughter and mother allowed the author to explore the theme of generational trauma in a compelling way. That’s why I’m giving this book four and a half stars.

GOOD BITS: The plot gave far more than a standard ‘will they get together?’ romance. There were lots of different elements that tied seamlessly and kept the stakes escalating. In particular, the use of flashback and the structure over seven days in June (fifteen years apart), kept me engaged. Eva was a sympathetic character and I loved how her chronic illness was fully integrated with her personality, and not miraculously cured by love. Finally, I loved the side characters and use of different points of view. The scenes in Audre and Lizette’s POVs were unexpected but it added depth to get their perspective on events.

NOT SO GOOD BITS: Honestly, I find books about writers lazy. I know it doesn’t mean that the author has drawn on their own experiences but I do think they could be more creative in choosing careers for their protagonists. It didn’t bother me too much in this novel but I couldn’t believe that Shane wrote all his novels drunk and didn’t need to edit. Also, the last 70 pages could’ve been resolved by two phone calls. I mean, I liked how two storylines were brought together but it stretched the bounds of plausibility.

OVERALL: I don’t have many comparisons in the romance genre, but I think this book would appeal to lovers of ‘Queenie’ by Candice Carty-Williams, ‘Transcendent Kingdom’ by Yaa Gyasi and ‘Thin Girls’ by Diana Clarke. Essentially, I think this book crosses over to fans of women’s fiction about trauma and mental health. At least, those tend to be my favourite books and I loved this too!

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