If You Were Me by Sheila O'Flanagan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
'On a sultry summer evening in Seville, anything can happen...
Carlotta O'Keefe is happily engaged, and the wedding plans are coming together. She's clear about her future path, both personally and in her busy career. Maybe Chris doesn't make her heart race every time she sees him, but you can't have that feeling for ever. Can you?
Then, on a trip to Seville, Carlotta runs into Luke Evans. Luke broke her heart so long ago she'd almost convinced herself she'd forgotten him. Now, he's not that boy any more, but an attractive and intriguing man. And he can explain everything that happened way back when.
Suddenly Carlotta's not so sure of anything any more. Except that what she decides now will shape the rest of her life...'
I was immediately drawn to this book by the cover, it looks intriguing and interesting and I would have bought this book on the basis of the cover and the blub on the back.
Right from the first page Shelia O'Flannagan flings the reader into her world like a breakaway train; Carlotta O'Keefe is having the first of many dramas that take her through the book. Immensely likeable character, easy to identify with and hopelessly flawed like most of us trying to get everything right all the time, juggling many balls in the air with the inevitability of something having to crash eventually.
We meet Carlotta O'Keefe at a point in her life where she appears to be very satisfied, happily engaged to a steady good man, planning her forthcoming wedding and handling a busy career life couldn't be going better for her, that is until she is sent on an assignment to Seville which is where we are introduced to Carlotta and pick up the story. Carlotta works for Cadogan Consulting a company that provide advice and solutions to struggling companies. She is nicknamed the velvet assassin as she often has to advise a certain amount of rationalisation which means redundancies a part of the role she is not comfortable with but necessary to save businesses in trouble. She is sent to Seville to advise a company of Ecologists on rationalisation and she misses her flight back to Dublin.
Having explored every avenue to return to Dublin that night she is forced to accept that she will not be able to get back until the following day which means that she will miss her fiance's mother Dorothea's birthday and not be able to deliver a speech and give her a floral presentation which has been organised for her to do at the party, and of course she has to pluck up the courage to tell her finance Chris what has happened.
Carlotta is mortified that she has messed up because she so wanted to impress Dorothea and make her realise that she is right for Chris as she knows Dorothea believes she isn't, which is why she tries so hard to find a way to get back to Dublin that night. Once she realises that it's impossible she gets a sense of relief which disturbs her. She also runs into Luke Evans who broke her heart many years before and whom she never really got out of her system. This meeting ignites feelings she thought she had buried a long time ago and makes her question her relationship with Chris.
From here on in the reader is thrown into a chain of events that is certain to change Carlotta's life forever. The seamless way the author introduces the characters and sets the scenes is effortless, with good descriptive passages of Seville I could almost be there and the passage describing the flamenco dance was pure artistry. When Carlotta was in Spain, Dublin and Canada so I travelled with her and experienced these countries and places through the clever descriptive writing.
The outcome of the book was not a surprise but it was so well done that the author did not really confirm until the last few pages making guessing and wondering all the more enjoyable. I particularly loved the hints of Irish humour and quirky lapses into 'irish speak' which gave the book authenticity.
I don't want to give any more of the story away even by describing other characters as they have their own surprises so I will leave you to read the novel yourself. I can easily give this book a five star rating, good easy reading, lovely novel to take on holiday and I do hope Shelia O'Flannagan does a sequel.
I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.