In this romance, a young widow learns to start enjoying life again two years after the tragic death of her husband, when she falls in love with the handsome man who unexpectedly swoops into her life. And it doesn’t hurt that he has oodles of money, lives in a mansion, and drives a flashy sports car.
To be fair, Holly is emphatically not interested in Ciaran when he first appears, and she is so not impressed by his millions or by his allegedly playboyish love life. Holly just wants to live a quiet life in the unfinished cottage she and the late Charlie had moved into, where she can be left alone with her troubled dreams of her lost husband and with a big slobbery dog for company. But when Holly’s bakery (deliciously named Cake) is commissioned to make and deliver a specialty item to Ciaran’s father (a loud, often drunk man prone to inappropriate displays of what’s beneath his kilt), she meets and then can’t stop running into lovely Ciaran — and Ciaran is smitten enough to woo Holly despite her rather rude attempts to make him go away.
Since You’ve Been Gone doesn’t hold much in the way of surprises, but for a straight-forward romance, it veers just enough from the expected formula to keep it interesting. Holly herself is a well-drawn character, clearly suffering when we meet her and not ready to let go of her loss and grief. Yes, the money angle is a little obnoxious and obvious, but Holly makes clear that she falls for Ciaran despite the status and glamour, not because of it.
I enjoyed the emphasis on the natural settings, Holly’s love of nature and the outdoors, and the tenderness Ciaran displays in honoring Charlie’s memory. There are some stock characters, to be sure, including the gold-digging personal assistant who is icy-beautiful and constantly needles and undermines Holly — but the rest of the supporting cast, including the lonely older woman next door and Holly’s hugely pregnant and over-involved sister, are off-beat enough to keep the story lively.
Yes, in some respects this is a by-the-numbers romance novel, and anyone who’s not a fan of the genre might want to steer clear. I’m not much of a romance reader ordinarily, but I was drawn to Since You’ve Been Gone by the adorable cover as well as by the synopsis, which made it sound not very run-of-the-mill — and I’m pleased that I gave it a try.
Since You’ve Been Gone is a fast, light read, with some nice emotional moments (and some super-steamy sex) to keep things moving along. It’s an enjoyable book about finding love again, and is a perfectly entertaining way to spend a summer day.
Title: Since You’ve Been Gone
Author: Anouska Knight
Publisher: Harlequin HQN
Publication date: July 29, 2014
Length: 320 pages
Source: Review courtesy of Harlequin via NetGalley