I loved this story. On the surface, it is a very easy read. Gianne is a strong woman, a cancer survivor is just picking up her life after her illness, and the departure of a dickless boyfriend who was scared off by the serious nature of her diagnosis.
Then she meets Marc, part of the charismatic Stafford clan, and before you can say “raw vegan food evangelist” she is travelling across the country to Las Vegas, for three months of fitness training, diet, and will they/won’t they dynamics. Cynics will roll their eyes at this point but if so, this book is not for you. Saved from TV movie sentimentality by the author’s writing and ability to draw her characters, this is a warm-hearted cuddle of a book, but one with an edge. Maybe some will object to the raw foods message. I know a few found it heavy-handed, but I didn’t. It was interesting, but didn’t make me feel guilty about my burger and fries.
Marc has his own family issues (don’t we all?) and they were dealt with very entertainingly. The guy is hot, hot, hot! Perhaps a little good to be true? Whatever, he was a real sweetheart, and I loved him and Gianne together. Gianne didn’t take any crap, either. Yes, she decided to go to Las Vegas, but she was pragmatic, knowing she had to return, scared of commitment yet not averse to a little fun. I loved her. I want her and her friends as my friends. She was a girl to root for.
Equally, Marc’s family were complicated, competitive, aspirational, each with their own resentments but held together by their mother, who was awesome. The book really came alive when the family were together. I know this is the first in the Stafford Family series, so it will be interesting to watch these stories develop!
Finally, cancer is a tough subject that can be excruciating if clumsily dealt with, but the writer has done a brilliant job. Gianne lives her life six months at a time, from all-clear to all-clear. All through the book, I was never sure which way it was going to go, and I needed to know. Now I do, the last thing I’m going to do is tell you. Read it yourself.