Review: A Bicycle Made For Two – Mary Jayne Baker
by Mary Jayne Baker
Series: Love in the Dales #1
Publisher: Mirror Books
Publication Date: April 5, 2018
I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
The first in a new romantic comedy series, Love in the Dales, set in a beautiful Yorkshire village.
Chock-full of colourful characters, bawdy wit and a bit of love and passion for good measure.
In a lost corner of the Yorkshire Dales, Lana Donati runs a medieval theme tourist trap restaurant with her brother. As a distraction to help them get over losing the father they loved dearly, and as a tribute to his passion for the beautiful area they live in, Lana hatches a plan to boost business for everyone by having the Grand Départ route pass through their village.
But this entails getting the small community to work together to convince the decision-makers that their beloved village is Tour material. Not an easy task when the people involved include Lana's shy, unlucky-in-love brother Tom, the man-eating WI chair Yolanda, bickering spouses Gerry and Sue, arrogant celebrity Harper Brady, and Lana's (attractive) arch-nemesis, former pro-cyclist turned bike shop owner, Stewart McLean, whose offbeat ideas might just cost them everything.
From the author of The Honey Trap and Meet Me at the Lighthouse, this is a rural romance for lovers of Fiona Gibson, Sue Moorcroft and Penny Parkes' Larkford series.
Trigger warnings: death of a parent from cancer, depression
This is not your average British rom-com. For starters, it’s set in the Yorkshire Dales in the north of England, and is full of profanity, medieval food, cycling, and soul-reading bats. In other words, it’s utterly hilarious.
Lana and her brother Tom run a medieval restaurant in the village of Egglethwaite. It may not be exactly what Lana had planned on doing with her life, but it’s her father’s baby, and she doesn’t feel right abandoning it when he’s battling cancer. Things take a turn for the better after a date with the local rich jerk’s cousin, but then he ghosts her. After a rough year – for the business and personally – Stewart’s suddenly back in town. But what’s an up-and-coming cyclist doing opening a cycling shop in the middle of nowhere, and can Lana forgive him?
“‘Stewart McLean, that’s what,’ I said once we were out of earshot, finally giving vent to my pent-up rage. ‘Can you Adam and fucking Eve it? Asking if we can be friends. Friends! After a year! What a first-class, prime-cut arse monkey.’”
One of the things I liked about the book was that the main characters screw up constantly. Lana is a complete dick to Stewart, she apologies, then Stewart does something stupid and it’s his turn to apologize, and the same dynamic happens with the secondary couple. It’s a smaller version of the second chances theme that runs throughout the book, the sort of “yeah, everybody screws up sometimes but sometimes you get a second chance” – in both life and love. From taking up a project her dad abandoned when he was diagnosed with cancer, to deciding whether to give Stewart another date, it’s the chances they choose to take that move this book along and make it so special.
The village of Egglethwaite is populated by lots of, well, characters, from the cute fish-and-chips owner to the frying-pan-amorous chef to the farming couple that act in loco parentis to Lana and Tom. It was sweet – and hilarious – reading about the various ideas they come up with to raise money, from a nude calendar to a fair to a kissing booth. I’m not a particularly big fan of cycling, but there’s not a particularly large amount of bike talk in the book, and what is there either serves the story or the humor (at one point Lana confuses pelotons with pelicans). Between the language and the situations, this book kept me giggling from page to page. There are some serious bits though, from Lana and Tom’s father’s battle with cancer to the reason Stewart never called Lana for that second date. It’s all handled well and respectfully, though, even if one of the more serious relationship conversations happens when Lana is high as a kite on laughing gas and hallucinating talking snowmen and flamingos.
Overall, if you’re looking for a hilarious second-chances Brit rom-com, this is a good choice for you!