by Pauline Wiles
What’s the recipe for a second chance at love?
After six blissful years with scientist boyfriend Owen, Bella Beecham was convinced he was about to pop the question she’d been longing to hear. Instead, he accepted a prestigious job in California and left England without a backwards glance. Now, Owen’s back in the village of Saffron Sweeting, and appears to be more eligible than ever. Bella’s determined that the man of her dreams won’t slip through her fingers again.
But her plans to tone up, trim down, and tempt Owen back into her life prove bittersweet. Although Bella’s talent for baking wins her new friends, her tasty treats have a disconcerting tendency to sabotage her own intentions. And as her increasingly bold attempts to recapture Owen’s heart stumble, Bella must question whether she’s chasing a guy who wants to be caught.
A British romantic comedy featuring both familiar characters and fresh faces, Sweet Pursuits explores how a young woman seeking her soulmate must first learn to love herself.
At the behest of French Women Don’t Get Fat, I embarked on thirty-six hours of cleansing, where my only food was a thin leek soup. In between slurps, I purged my half of the fridge of anything which might lead me astray. I bid farewell to a pot of clotted cream, plus some leftover blackberry crumble. But I did eat the chocolate mousse I’d made on Thursday: that was too good to waste and surely didn’t undermine the magical properties of the leek soup.
My bravado wavers when we arrive at Morgan’s fancy gym in Chesterton, an echoing cavern which reeks of willpower and fresh sweat. It triggers unwelcome flashbacks to my pudgy schooldays and weekly humiliation in what was then called PE.
I probably look fiendish: hair like a scarecrow, face creased and smudged. Maybe I shouldn’t open the door after all… Leo takes half a step back. I glimpse myself in the hall mirror and see why: mismatched pyjamas, beehive hair, one set of false eyelashes in place, the other stuck to my cheek… He takes a good look at me before speaking. ‘Are you ill?’ ‘Yes,’ I say. ‘Alcohol poisoning.’
Sweet Pursuits was a delightful and highly amusing treat. I adored the clever and playful humor, crisp and witty writing style, and quirky and lovable characters. Written from a first person POV, the writing was captivating, observant, clever, comically annotated, and unfailingly entertaining. I cherished being in Bella’s head as we seemed to share the same inner dialogues, weaknesses, and struggles with body image and dieting; as well as the guilt, dread, and painful reaction to strenuous exercise. The comical depiction of Bella’s disastrous session of CrossFit had me smirking and giggle-snorting. And there are few among us that haven’t been similarly besotted and blind to an attractive partner’s failings at some time in our lives. Pauline Wiles obviously has magic in her toolbox as her playful words depicted and effortlessly conjured complete and engaging scenes that flickered through my gray matter. Even Bella’s misery was comical. This was my first chance to enjoy reading Ms. Wile’s sparkling humor and talented scribblings, but I plan to follow her future efforts like an afternoon shadow.
British by birth, Pauline is now a contented resident of California, although she admits to occasional yearnings for afternoon tea and historic homes.
Her debut novel, Saving Saffron Sweeting, reached the quarter-final of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award and was a number one Kindle Best Seller. The stand-alone prequel, Secrets in the Sky, is now available, with the third book in the series coming in early 2017. Her work has been published by House of Fifty, Smitten by Britain and Alfie Dog Fiction.
When not writing, Pauline can be found getting the steps wrong in a Zumba class or calculating how many miles she has to run to justify an extra piece of cake. Her ambition is to sell enough books to cover the cost of flying herself and a reader to London for tea.