Anyone Who Had a Heart, Paperback
2 out of 5 (1 rating)


Even a small town girl can have big dreams...Marcie Brooks has returned to her home town with a baby and a ring on her finger.

But for all her grandmother's insistence that she's a young widow, the truth is the only boy Marcie has ever loved tragically died before he could make good his promise to wed her.

Sometimes she still feels his presence near her, which is both a comfort and an unnerving sign that she's inherited her grandmother's psychic gifts...However defending herself from unwanted attention has devastating consequences - Marcie has to leave Sheppey in a hurry.

The offer of a job in a smart boutique on the Kings Road in London, arranged via her father's dodgy connections, seems to offer an ideal escape. But it doesn't take Marcie long to discover that her new Sicilian bosses have other business interests besides fashion...




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When judging a book by its cover, I usually know to avoid the type of historical chick lit represented by a model in period dress superimposed over an old photograph of a town or city, but this time, a misleading review blinded my better judgement.Marcie Brooks is a young unmarried mother living with her grandmother in the Isle of Sheppey. When her dodgy father gives her the chance to live and work in the city, designing and making her own clothes for a fashionable boutique, she goes for it, trusting in his connections to smooth her way. The seedy underworld of stripclubs and call girls soon casts a shadow over the bright lights and glamorous people, and Marcie finds it is not easy to escape the past by looking forward to the future.A neutral assessment of this novel printed in a local newspaper suggested a story of a paranormal romance set during the swinging sixties in London. Interested in both theme and era, I immediately bought a copy. After ploughing through nearly 500 pages of a plot better suited to 'EastEnders' (well, the author does claim she would cast one of the soap's Cockney starlets as her main character) and only a whiff of romance, in this life or the next, my review consists of three words: I wuz robbed.The story is disjointed and repetitive, with poor continuity and stock characters. The writing is weak, weighted down with clumsy descriptions, no empathy, and some really bad metaphors towards the end (a drowning goldfish?) I really struggled to 'escape' into the story, as the author intended, because the narrative was so clunky and amateur.And although I could appreciate the period detail, particularly the racial and sexual tension of the decade, Mia Dolan's assessment of the past can be very heavy-handed and judgemental - the 'good' characters have very bland, politically correct views, and the antagonists are racist and sexist, but in very safe, modern terms. Yet for a novel that was obviously written to appeal to twenty-first century female readers, I was surprised that so many of the women in this book are portrayed as victims. Marcie was raped by the father of her baby daughter, and is raped again; her mother was raped; her friend from the nursing home was raped. Not one of the unmarried mothers in this book is allowed to take responsibility for her predicament, which is hardly a brave stance.Also, the promised 'paranormal' element of the story that I was looking forward to - Marcie's 'gift' allowing her to sense the presence of her dead fiance - was woefully underplayed. Aside from mentioning that her grandmother talks with her late husband and the village idiot has 'invisible friends', the central theme of psychic intuition is all but lacking. Perhaps Marcie's talent is developed in the next book, but I'm not interested in finding out.And I defy anyone to read the title without getting the song stuck in their head!

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