Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Phillip used to laugh a lot, back when his friends called him Pip. However the good deed that left him hospitalized not only marred his body, it stripped him of his good humor too. Ever since, he has pushed his friends away and shut out the world. Donating his vintage clothing to a charity shop should have been the final act in a year-long campaign to sever the links with the man Pip used to be, but the stranger on his doorstep awakens feelings in Pip that he hasn’t experienced since the incident that left him angry at the world and reliant on the cold metal of the hideous hospital-issue crutch.
Colby forces his way into Pip’s life, picking at the scab of his past. Colby isn’t interested in Pip’s money or his expensive address. He has only one goal: to make Pip smile again. With every moment in Pip’s presence, Colby chips away at the walls Pip has built around himself. Pip knows it’s impossible to fight his attraction with Colby’s sunny disposition casting light into the darkness in his soul.
Once again, Lillian Francis has written a story and characters guaranteed to capture your heart. From the moment you and Colby meet the broken Pip, something about this damaged man will call out to you. So much so that, like Colby, you’re pulled through that door and into the wreckage of Pip’s life.
As the second chime faded away, Colby heard an odd thudsqueakcurse, thudsqueakcurse, thudsqueakcurse that got progressively louder the longer he stood poised with his finger still hovering near the bell press. Dropping his hand back to his side, Colby leaned closer to the door, hoping to make out the individual sounds, but they were muffled by the thick wood.
“You only need to press the bell once,” said the angry young man whose face appeared in the gap as the door was opened. “I should get a plaque saying ‘Cripple lives here. Be patient.’” This last part appeared to be muttered more to himself before he returned his brusque attention back to Colby. “What d’you want?”
What follows is an angry, sad, sharp, concise little conversation that makes you want to know that young man banging about inside his place, a place you’ll find out that all but screams of happier times and abandonment.
And suddenly you want to make it better, you want Colby to make it better. Later it becomes to help Pip make it better for himself.
What an amazing story which is all the more so because there isn’t a lot of drama or angst. That has already happened. This is about healing, the recovery. And it happens in stages just as it should.
Phillip Longhampton had once been an astonishing man, a dandy as it were, well known for as the flamboyant Pip with his vintage impeccable dress, his clothes blog, his outgoing nature, all destroyed by one good deed gone horribly wrong. Now Phillip once more, he hides away with his disability, having removed himself from his old life, clothes included.
Lillian Francis’ vivid descriptions and thorough research make both the old and present Pip come alive for us. We see him through the photographs Colby sees of his clothing, the care and quality as well as the deep affection in which Pip still hold his valued collection, whether he will admit it or not. The portrait we gather together of the man is one we see a piece at a time. First snarly and in pain, and then as more and more of his past is filled in, we see the man he was and is slowly becoming again.
As the character of Pip fills in, the one of Colby fleshes out as well The reader gets to know both men as they get to know each other. Its a lovely technique and it deepens this romance to one quite out of the ordinary. Of course there is nothing ordinary about either of these two. I could see the clothes but how I wish I could visit the shoppes as well. And yes, I want that cane.
The relationship builds to the perfect climax, and although I could see it coming, it didn’t spoil the wonder and joy that I knew that scene would bring. Really, so, so, marvelous.
Oh, and don’t miss out on that fun glossary at the beginning. I had no idea what the traditional definition of a cockney was, I do now. Bow Bells and Cheapside indeed.
This is a story to treasure and Lillian Francis an author to put on autobuy. This is just so well written, its entertaining and just such a lovely romance. I so highly recommend them both. Make it your New Year’s resolution to seek them both out and find out why!
Cover art Paul Richmond. I never thought I would say this. But this cover absolutely doesn’t work for the characters especially, how could anyone think they would represent Pip or Colby is beyond me. When you read the book you’ll be shaking your head along with me.
ebook, 220 pages
Published December 25th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press