The Beginning of Everything

Books on Tape. Sept. 2023. 10:28 hrs. ISBN 9780593821565. $85.50. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
In Fraser’s follow-up to The Bookshop of Second Chances, listeners meet Jess Cavendish, who has just left her abusive boyfriend. Jess finds a vacant house in the small town of Caerwyddon, Wales, and squats there as she tries to save up enough money to rent a room. Everything changes when the house’s owner, Gethin Thomas, walks in and finds Jess there. Instead of kicking her out, however, Gethin offers her a place to stay in exchange for helping him renovate the house. Hannah Curtis provides delightful voices in her narration, differentiating between characters while drawing listeners into the story. As the awkward friendship develops, Curtis ably conveys the uncomfortableness of the situation. Jess slowly opens up about her past, and Gethin, too, reveals what he is running from. Some listeners may be taken aback by the unlikely scenario, but most will be charmed as the characters find common ground and thoughtfully discuss their fears of change, loneliness, and trust.
VERDICT A solid friends-to-lovers romance with some thought-provoking elements. Recommended for fans of Abbi Waxman and Jenny Colgan.
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