The Secret of Happy Ever After, Paperback
4 out of 5 (1 rating)


When story-lover Anna takes over Longhampton's bookshop, it's her dream come true. And not just because it gets her away from her three rowdy stepchildren and their hyperactive Dalmatian.

Unpacking boxes filled with childhood classics, Anna can't shake the feeling that maybe her own fairytale ending isn't all that she'd hoped for.

But, as the stories of love, adventure, secret gardens, lost dogs, wicked witches and giant peaches breathe new life into the neglected shop, Anna and her customers get swept up in the magic too.

Even Anna's best friend Michelle - who categorically doesn't believe in true love and handsome princes - isn't immune. But when secrets from Michelle's own childhood come back to haunt her, and disaster threatens Anna's home, will the wisdom and charm of the stories in the bookshop help the two friends - and those they love - find their own happy ever afters?




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I've never read one of Lucy Dillon's novels before, but I was swayed by the dreamy, fairytale-like quality of this front cover and the other great reviews for this book on here. I'm so glad I started with this book- and I will definitely be looking to read her others at some point soon because this was a fabulous read- full of characters you can care about and a really charming storyline.Set in the small town of Longhampton (which has apparently featured in Dillon's books before), we meet Michelle- new to the town after her recent divorce and determined to set up a homeware/interiors shop in the abandoned fishmongers. Michelle is a character full of determination and organised beyond belief. She encounters Anna whilst the other woman is out walking her stepdaughters' dog, Pongo (he escapes into a café and snarfs up her carrot cake!) and the two of them click instantly. Anna by contrast, is struggling with her role as stepmother and is a bit of a downtrodden doormat. When Michelle takes on the lease for the abandoned bookshop next door to her own shop premises and hires Anna as the manager, that's when the real magic (and romance) begins to happen...I have to say that at first I wasn't sure if I was going to like Anna very much. She did come across as a little bit `woe is me' and so completely lacklustre in the first few chapters particularly in contrast to assertive, independent Michelle who I liked instantly. I also wasn't particularly eager to read about Anna's husband Phil or her horrible sounding stepdaughters (especially Chloe)! Eventually I found myself warming to Anna though- after all, she loves books! She wants everyone to love books and reading (I can emphasise with that). The secondary characters are also very well drawn- I really liked geeky Rory and the interesting dynamics going on between he and Michelle. All in all, by the time I'd finished this book I wished I could go to Longhampton myself!The writing of this story flows beautifully overall- the author cleverly references other books throughout and conjures up memories associated with characters own experiences of reading them- as well as bookish references at the top of every chapter from them too. I think I will be going back and re-reading some of my childhood favourites after this actually! A few things did irritate me though, which is what has stopped me from giving it the full five stars- basically I just don't understand how sometimes grown women can't stand up for themselves properly- Michelle with her mother and her ex-husband and Anna telling her bratty stepdaughter to shove it and telling her husband what she really wanted out of life! It annoyed me a bit and this happened a lot in the text.I would recommend you give this story a go if you enjoy contemporary romantic fiction with characters who are believable and likeable. It was a really heart-warming, girly read. Definitely one I'll be passing on to my female friends. *This review also appears on*