Toni’s Blind Date by Rosie Dean
A seasonal book of complicated romance, the pain of the past and the potential of the future, this lovely book is a festive treat. Family is never straightforward, nor the complications of a relationship, but this is a book of natural and gentle humour as the main characters try to deal with a date over several days which is being reported to the world. Rosie Dean has created characters who go far beyond the usual reality television portraits, despite the intrusion of those trying to further ratings and their career. Smiling through challenges is one thing, but coping with life changing events is taking a bit more effort for Toni, a young woman with a fractured family and a troubled recent past. Will thinks he knows what he wants, but an inconvenient real attraction to the woman he has accidentally chosen is rather throwing him off. This very twenty-first century story of love in a festive climate includes some snowy scenes as skiing is featured, references to winter warming food and drink, and is generally a good escape in most senses. I was pleased to have the opportunity to read and review this gently funny and entertaining novel.
Toni and her partner Spencer are involved in the sports fitness industry in America, a reasonable choice as her mother is a nationwide television favourite diet and activity guru. Spencer is full of a new possibility for fame and fortune, when Toni lets him in on a secret. When disaster happens he is less than sympathetic, and she heads back to the UK to spend time with her television producer father. Rick loves Toni despite her being taken by her mother when their marriage broke up, and quickly becomes the possessive father. His television production company is struggling with their biggest series, a reality dating programme which is being hijacked by characters who demand fame at any price. Meanwhile Will has been made redundant from a television production company, but has an idea he is desperate for Rick’s company to take up. He agrees to appear on the dating show, but due to a last minute switch ends up picking Toni to go on a date with, despite everything. They are sent on a romantic skiing trip where getting warm after a day in the snow could provide great footage for the cameras and social media, but how much genuine attraction is there between the couple, and can it survive revelations from several sources?
This is a lovely book in many ways, as Toni and Will are shown as being very different from the other contestants and more real, with their genuine emotions and issues. I really enjoyed the characterizations of Toni’s family, especially Brendan, the caring cousin. The family pressures on Toni and Will are well handled, and while there are some issues here of fate taking a cruel hand, the reactions of the main characters are well handled. This is a largely escapist book of celebrity and real life which is a cheering read in the build up to Christmas, as the setting of snowy romanticism and wealthy lifestyles contributes to a festive romance.