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Now, those of you who know me, know how much I thoroughly love Dorothy Koomson’s books. And those of you who have read her, also know that she doesn’t really do shiny happy clappy books. The Woman He Loved Before is no different.

Here’s the blurb from Dorothy’s website:

she’s out of his life, but is she out of his heart?

Libby has a nice life with a great job, a gorgeous husband and a big home by the sea. But she’s becoming more unsure of Jack’s feelings for her – and if he is over the mysterious death of Eve, his first wife.

When fate intervenes in their relationship, Libby decides to find out all she can about the man she hastily married and the seemingly perfect Eve.

Eventually Libby stumbles across some startling truths about Eve. As she begins to unearth more and more devastating secrets, Libby becomes frightened that she too will end up like the first woman Jack loved. . .

What I love about Koomson’s books are how easy she makes it for me to turn to page after page, even when I’m dreading the direction in which her book may be going. I loved the twists and turns of TWHLB, and although there was a sense that something fairly heinous was going to be revealed at the end, I still wanted to keep reading. (more…)

Here’s the blurb for The Woman He Loved Before:

She’s out of his life, but is she out of his heart?

Libby has a nice life with a great job, a gorgeous husband and a big home by the sea. But she’s becoming more unsure of Jack’s feelings for her – and if he is over the mysterious death of Eve, his first wife.

When fate intervenes in their relationship, Libby decides to find out all she can about the man she hastily married and the seemingly perfect Eve.

Eventually Libby stumbles across some startling truths about Eve. As she begins to unearth more and more devastating secrets, Libby becomes frightened that she too will end up like the first woman Jack loved. . .

I’ve already ordered this, and I’m looking forward to curling up and reading another Dorothy Koomson book.

You can learn more about Dorothy Koomson here, read the first chapter here, order The Woman He Loved Before here, and Sarah Tanner has a great review of the book here.

I’m so excited to read this book, as my regulars will know, I love Dorothy Koomson’s work.


As teenagers Poppy Carlisle and Serena Gorringe were the only witnesses to a tragic event. Amid heated public debate, the two seemingly glamorous teens were dubbed ‘The Ice Cream Girls’ by the press and were dealt with by the courts.

Years later, having led very different lives, Poppy is keen to set the record straight about what really happened, while married mother-of-two Serena wants no one in her present to find out about her past. But some secrets will not stay buried – and if theirs is revealed, everything will become a living hell all over again . . .

Sarah has a review of this book over at her blog. She loved it!

You can read the first chapter here, and buy The Ice-Cream Girls over at The Book Depository.

I have reviews of Dorothy Koomson’s My Best Friend’s Girl, here, The Chocolate Run here, and Marshmallows For Breakfast here.

The chocolate run

Rosario has a great review of Dorothy Koomson’s book, The Chocolate Run, up on her blog. She loves it as much as I did.

Dorothy Koomson books

She also wrote a review of Goodnight Beautiful. Once again, she loved it, even though it wasn’t a romance.

Yay for another Koomson convert!

Dorothy Koomson, (one of my favourite authors), isn’t so crazy about the term, ‘Chicklit’, and she’s not afraid to say so on her website:

Ms Koomson writes:

…It’s a derogatory term used to describe books that are apparently formulaic, vacuous and written by young women that does nothing to enrich the tapestry of our cultural world. (It’s an accusation that’s been levelled at my books, but as I always say: everyone’s entitled to their own wrong opinion.)

On the other hand, there are many people who say they love ‘chick lit’. That we readers have nothing to be ashamed of devouring those types of books and that some ‘chick lit’ handles serious issues (someone once used My Best Friend’s Girl as an example of this – it probably didn’t occur to them I’d find my books being labelled ‘chick lit’ even in an allegedly positive way rather insulting). Those who champion the cause of ‘chick lit’ say they are trying to reclaim the term, to own it, to make sure fiction that’s – in the main – written by women for women is taken as seriously as other fiction.

It’s funny, but this is a subject that I can take or leave. I don’t read much chick lit I don’t think. The last was a Jane Fallon book if I recall correctly, and although it was ok, it was one of those books that I kept putting down, and forgetting to pick back up again.

Anyway, Dorothy continues:

What both the lovers and haters of ‘chick lit’ seem to have overlooked in all of this dismissing and championing is the term ‘chick’. It’s not the books that you need to be worrying about but the word that basically insults all women. In my mind, it’s like trying to find a suitable place to stub out a cigarette when your house is being engulfed by 50ft flames – you’ve got bigger things to worry about.

I object – rather strongly – to people calling my books ‘chick lit’ mainly because I don’t call myself or any other woman I know a ‘chick’. You see, I’m 99 per cent certain it didn’t come from a place or time where women were considered intelligent, worthy, equal human beings and using that term is just repeating the insult.

‘Ah, yes, but we’re trying to reclaim that term,’ declare the lovers of ‘chick lit’. ‘We’re trying to own it and reclassify it and make it something cool and hip and what every right-thinking female should want to be known as.’ I applaud such efforts, I really do. But I’ve never been completely convinced by the wisdom in trying to reclaim insulting terms and phrases.

You’re fighting a pretty long and dense history of negativity and you’re more than likely to find that although you’re using the word in the new, ‘right’ way, very few other people are.

Dorothy concludes by writing:

I have a novel suggestion for both the lovers and dislikers of what is essentially commercial – i.e. non-literary – storytelling: get together and come up with a new term. I quite like the term commercial fiction but it is a mouthful. I’ve come up with a new term for my books and any authors out there are more than welcome to realign their work in this new genre – as long as they acknowledge that it was my idea (he-he!!). My new term?

Heart lit.

I love books that can touch your heart. Stories, characters and writing that can break your heart, lift your heart, stop your heart, fill your heart. They can be any type of book as long as they move, involve, impassion. That’s what I read for, so heart lit is what I’m going to call any book that touches me so.

My newest mission is to try to get heart lit to replace the C Lit word. Because whilst I’m all for people being honest about the non-literary/highbrow books they do and don’t love – the world would be a slightly nicer place if they expressed their opinions without insulting 50 per cent of the population in the process.

This is something that Ms Koomson seems to feel quite strongly about, but I have to say, I don’t care either way.

I do have a suggestion though, how about Clit Lit? *g*

Any other suggestions?

I finished reading Goodnight, Beautiful yesterday, and I’m still crying over it. Will review when I stop sobbing.

Damn, but Dorothy Koomson knows how to write.

The second Dorothy Koomson book that I read this week was The Chocolate Run, and oh my, it was good. Actually, it was better than good, it was bloody fantastic.

Amber Salpone keeps ending up in bed with her best male friend, Greg, who by his own admission is a bit of a tart. The veritable ladies man, who’s never met a woman he didn’t want to have sex with.

When they first met, Amber was convinced he was an asshole, but little by little, they became the best of friends, and Amber became the person he rang whenever he found himself in a spot of bother. (usually when  trying to extricate himself from yet another clingy woman, who didn’t realise that all he wanted from them was sex.)

Greg was the quintessential womanising bastard who really shouldn’t have been likeable, but oh my, I loved him to bits.

Amber had never thought of Greg like that before they ended up in bed, but to her consternation, it was the best sex she’d ever had. After they’d done the deed (many times) they vow to never repeat the event, and pretend it never happened. The problem is, they just can’t keep their hands off each other.

They decide to keep getting horizontal (and vertical come to think of it), but Amber insists on keeping their nocturnal activites quiet from their best friends, Matt and Jen.  Jen is Amber’s best friend and Matt is Greg’s best friend.

Amber feels very guilty about keeping her friend in the dark about her fling with Greg,  but she doesn’t expect it to last beyond two weeks, so she launches herself into the affair, fully expecting the other shoe to fall at any time.

Amber is a commitment phobe who doesn’t believe in the sanctity of marriage, and she assumes that Greg feels exactly the same way. The problem is, Greg has secretly been in love with her for the last two years, and has been waiting for the perfect time to get his hands on her. Now that he’s got her, he wants to keep her, but he has to be underhanded about his intentions, because he knows that he’ll scare her if he makes any sudden moves towards making their relationship more permanent.

Whilst Amber struggles with her growing feelings for Greg, she’s conscious of the fact that there seems to be a gulf between her and her best friend, Jen. She feels guilty for not telling Jen about her affair with Greg, but she knows that it will cause friction between them if she does.

Amber wants to find a way back to her best friend, but fears that she may lose Greg in the process. What she doesn’t realise, is that there are secrets, that when revealed, will test the strength of all their relationships.

The Chocolate Run was one of those books that hooks you from the first page, and keeps a stranglehold until you finish. I started reading it at about twelve o’clock midnight (after another insanely busy day), and didn’t put it down until I’d finished.

Once again, as per all of Koomson’s books so far, The Chocolate Run is told from the heroine’s point of view. I enjoyed Amber’s thought processes immensely, and I loved the way she equated the people she met to different types of chocolate.

Oh, I may not have mentioned it, but Amber was a chocoholic. She had a habit of running to the supermarket (especially when going through stressful periods) and systematically looking for the perfect chocolate to buy at that moment.  This was generally done by conducting a highly scientific sniffing test. These moments were highly amusing.

One thing I loved about Amber was how humorous she was. I found myself laughing during her self-analysis phases, something that she went through quite often. She had a self-deprecating type of sense of humour, which appealed to me.

As for Greg, well I simply loved him. Yes he was a womanising swine, but this reader could see that Amber was his world. He realised that he’d have to work extra hard with Amber, seeing as she’d witnessed first hand the devastation he left behind after his affairs went sour, but he wanted to take that challenge, because for him, she was The One.

Greg was warm and humorous, but could also be madly jealous and clingy. I loved that this confident, notorious lothario could be brought down low, with just one thoughtless word from the heroine. I liked that he wasn’t as secure with her, as he was with other women. For me, it proved that she was special to him. What can I say, I love that dynamic in my romance.

One of the most moving moments was towards the end of the book, when he fears that he’s going to lose Amber and he begs her to stay with him. He cries in that scene, and oh my soft little heart really felt his pain.

The secondary characters in the book were also superbly written,  and none of them were surplus to requirement.

Something else I loved about the book, was the setting. The Chocolate Run was set in Leeds, and it was wonderful reading about places that I’m familiar with. For instance, I attended a graduation ball at the Queen’s Hotel in Leeds many years ago, and myself and some friends got very drunk in Yates’s pub, whilst on a pub crawl. It gave me such a thrill to read about shopping on Albion Street, and walking into the Virgin music shop.

The Chocolate Run is at heart, a friends-to-lovers romance, but with so much more depth than your average traditional romance. It examines the vagaries of friendships, and how they evolve over time. It was an extremely smart, well-written, witty, deliciously poignant book, that both elevated my spirits, and sunk me low. I mostly laughed, then I cried, and then I laughed again.

Having read Koomson before, I was fearful that the book wouldn’t end the way I wanted it to, but luckily this time, I got my happy ending.

What more could this avid romance reader ask for?

You can read an excerpt of The Chocolate Run here, buy from Amazon.com here, and Amazon UK here.

BTW, how lovely is that cover?

You guys already know about my love affair with Koomson’s My Best Friend’s Girl, but what you don’t know is, how much I love her other books.

It’s been an insanely busy week (hence the lack of scheduled posts) but I still managed to fit in two DIK-worthy Dorothy Koomson books.

I’ve always maintained that I’m easy to please when it comes to books. (No, really, I am) I’m not someone who dwells on flaws when a book leaves me feeling fantastic. I’m not particularly pernickety when it comes to character inconsistencies, as long as the book made me happy. Sometimes endings are rushed and maybe aren’t as satisfactory as they could be, but I am mostly all about the pleasure gained during the reading of said book.

Well, I can safely say that the one thing that Dorothy Koomson has provided me with this week, is hours of reading pleasure.

In Marshmallows For Breakfast, our heroine, Kendra has just returned from Australia and needs somewhere to live. She rents a room from Kyle, a separated father of twins, Summer and Jaxon, and starts a new job. Kendra’s looking for peace in her life, having run away from a somewhat tragic situation in Australia.

The twins however have other ideas though, and invade Kendra’s life in every way possible. They love her because she lets them eat marshmallows for breakfast on Saturdays, and makes their world a little lighter and brighter than before. To them she represents security, something they’ve had very little of in their short lives.

Against her wishes, Kendra gets embroiled in the tapestry of their lives, and she soon finds herself mending broken hearts and tired minds.

Marshmallows For Breakfast was just a wonderful, wonderful book, that made me laugh and cry. Although told from a first person pov (Kendra’s), Koomson’s talent when it comes to breathing life into her characters is evident, even when viewed through the eyes of one person.

One of the most beautiful things about Marshmallows For Breakfast is the relationship between Kendra and the children, Kendra who wants nothing more than to get on with her new job, and avoid other people’s drama, falls in love with the twins, and does her best to give them the things they are missing, whilst trying to keep her heart intact. Something that she fails miserably at. She considers them her children, even though she knows full well, that there is a ticking clock on their makeshift family.

Kendra’s relationship with the twins’ father develops very slowly, but they have a connection that is undeniable. This isn’t a traditional romance, so if you purchase this book, you should do so knowing that there will be romance no-nos, that may leave you reeling. No I’m not talking about infidelity, but it’s important that you know that this isn’t a Mills and Boon book. There’s lots of pain, harrowing situations, and real life problems.

Marshmallows For Breakfast deals with a variety of familial ills, as well as what happens when you let secrets take over your life.

This was a grand, grand book, that probably shouldn’t be read by the romance purist.

You can visit Dorothy Koomson’s website here, read an excerpt here, and buy the book from Amazon UK here, or Amazon.com here.

Once again, note the subtlety of the cover.

I found this review of Dorothy Koomson’s My Best Friend’s Girl, on Youtube, and I quite liked it, so I thought I’d post a link to it on here.

Danke Smith, one of my serial lurkers (the Youtube video is hers by the way) posted a comment about the book, which I thought I’d highlight on here:

I wasn’t sure where to leave this comment about The American Version of Dorothy Koomson’s My Best Friend’s Girl so I thought I’d leave it here.

I noticed it is about to be released in America with an awful cover that doesn’t do the story justice. What is most interesting, I think, is that the cover blurb from the publisher makes a race issue when there isn’t really one.

Also, it has been paired with books about interracial romances on Amazon.com. It’s as if because the main character is black, there is nothing else to the story.

Thought I’d bring it up because I know this is a subject quite close to your heart. Mine, too! ; )What do you think?

Danke x

What do I think?


Firstly, the American cover sucks great big fucking hairy donkey balls, and secondly, this book wasn’t about effing race. It was about betrayal, death, adoption, and friendship. Why oh why do these publishers have to mess with stuff that aint broken? If Ms Koomson had wanted to make this book about race, then I daresay, she would have done so in a more obvious manner.

Richard Madeley even states in the video, that he wasn’t aware that Kamryn was black until the incident with Tiegan at the supermarket. This should be a flashing neon sign to the publishers, even though it’s obvious to anyone who’s read MBFG, that this book isn’t about race. Sheesh.

I picked up this book when I was doing the monthly shop, over 6 months ago. It caught my eye, because I noticed the Richard and Judy’s Summer Read logo on the front cover; plus it was only £3.63.

As I had a mountain of unread books waiting for me, it just got added to the top of the pile, and remained there till I finally got round to reading it the other day.

For those, like myself, who love character driven books, My Best Friend’s Girl was an absolute treat.

My Verdict

Gosh I loved, loved, loved this book.

Not since Niffenegger’s The Time Traveller’s Wife, has a book pulled me in so many different directions.

Every now and then, it’s good to get away from the fluff, and read something that actually makes you look at life, love, and relationships in a different way.

Koomson’s My Best Friend’s Girl, certainly achieved that, and so much more besides.

The book starts with a letter or a diary excerpt from Adele, Tegan’s mother. She explains how she discovered that she had leukemia, and the subsequent heartbreak over having to leave her child forever.

My eyes teared up at that point, and pretty much stayed teared up, through the rest of the book.

Let me start this review, by concentrating on each of the main characters.


Kamryn was the kind of angsty, insecure heroine that I usually abhor in a romance, but there was a difference between this character, and a lot of the standard angsty romance heroines out there.

I was able to empathise with her more often than not. In fact, surprisingly enough, there wasn’t actually a point in the book, where her actions made me want to shoot myself in the eye. Her insecurities, and bouts of low self-esteem was the result of being called ugly, and fat, during her formative years. She was psychologically scarred from a childhood that taught her that the only person you can truly rely on is yourself.

Although Kam had her faults, and could be a tad paranoid, she was a woman with whom, I could have been friends with. This is how I tend to judge heroines in books.

Because the book was written in the first person, I was a little apprehensive as to whether or not I would be allowed to enjoy the story. I usually try to stick to third person POVs, but every now and again, I’ll go over to the dark side. I wasn’t sorry that I did so on this occasion.

I felt Kam’s grief at the passing of her best friend all the way through the book. The sadness, and devastation that one experiences upon the death of a loved one, was brilliantly portrayed by Koomson.

I could totally empathise with her struggles, and the various adjustments to motherhood that she had to make. I felt the love that she had for her new daughter, the rage that she felt at her friend for dying, as well as her conflicting feelings about the two men who entered and re-entered her life, shortly after Tegan went to live with her.

Kam’s relationship with Tegan was a heartbreaking thing to read. I know it seems trite to say so, but reading this book was really like riding a rollercoaster. The highs were great, and gave me reason to laugh, and rejoice, but the lows really were the pits, and I had to constantly reach for tissues, and my stash of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk, at the risk of puking my guts up.

Kam wasn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, she could be surly, unforgiving, sarcastic, and techy at the slightest provocation, but she felt real to me, and I was able to understand her motivations, and identify that she was going through the grieving process. Through all of this, the only thing that I was sure about, was that she would eventually make it past the grey storm clouds, and into the sun.


Usually in a romance, the reader is never allowed to have conflicting feelings about the hero, especially when it comes to a love triangle.

We don’t meet Luke Wiseman till later on in the book, but he was a great character. He’s Kam’s new boss, and they hated each other on sight.

I on the other hand liked him. I really did.

When they first met, he made it more than obvious to Kam that he found her lacking, as a woman. This was something that Kam found very hard to deal with, because it was too reminiscent of her childhood feelings of inadequacy. It was refreshing to read a book, where the characters don’t instantly rush into unrivalled lust at first sight.

As they get to know one another, their relationship changes, and Kam is forced to look at Luke in a less judgmental way, and he, her.

I love the struggles that Luke had with himself over his feelings for Kam.
All his life, he’d always been attracted to a certain kind of woman, and even through Kam’s POV, it was interesting for me to see how he dealt with the fact that he was falling for a woman who was nothing like his perceived ideal woman.

Luke wasn’t the typical hero, he was condescending, and superior, and at times insulting, What am I saying? He sounds exactly like a HQ Presents hero! but guess what, the good things about him totally outweighed the bad, and even from Kam’s point of view, I was able to see beyond his false front of easy confidence, and arrogant veneer. A complex, but lovely man.


Nate had cheated on Kamryn with her best friend, so I really shouldn’t have liked him as much as I did, and in a standard romance, he would have clearly been the bad guy. Luckily, Koomson didn’t go down the cookie-cutter, bastard-other-guy route.

I really wanted to hate Nate, but couldn’t, because despite the fact that he’d betrayed Kam so badly, I believed that essentially, he was a good guy, who genuinely loved her.

All the way through the book, I found myself swaying from Luke to Nate, then back again.

In romance books, there’s usually never any ambiguity as to whom the heroine should end up with, but I have to say, I found myself constantly changing my mind about that very question, in this book.

Yes, Nate had been a rat-dog bastard, but he really loved her, I could tell. On the other hand, Luke was an arrogant son of a bitch who needed taking down a peg or two, but he was just as insecure as Kam, in his own way. The arguments in my head went on, and on, right up until the final few pages, when Koomson put me out of my misery, and let us know who Kam would be sharing hers and Tegan’s life with.

Koomson didn’t insist on giving the reader the whole backstory in one go. It was done via a series of flashbacks throughout the book, as well as in the form of a diary/letter from Adele hereself. I didn’t feel bombarded with lots of information that I’d have to process, before I could move on, and for that I was very grateful.

Another thing that I particularly loved about MBFG, was that you never quite knew where the author was going to take you. All the way through the book, I agonised over who Kam was going to ultimately choose to be with, and let me tell you, it wasn’t an easy thing to figure out at all.

There was one point in the book where I thought Koomson was about to betray me, by taking me down an avenue I didn’t expect her to take, but luckily (for her) she didn’t follow through. (If she had, the results would have been a very snotty, and pissed off Karen.)

The book did make me question how I would have reacted had I been in either Kam’s or Adele’s shoes. Would I have taken in the child of the best friend who’d betrayed me with my lover? Would I have asked the friend I’d betrayed to look after my most cherished possession? Sigh. I’m still trying to figure the answers out.

MBFG is not your typical romance, (I think it’s actually described, wrongly in my opinion, as chicklit) but it did indeed have some strong romantic elements. I loved how the author was able to capture my interest, and not only kept me hooked, but I found myself actually not wanting the book to end. Seriously.

The romance purists out there may not be interested in reading this book, because of the themes of betrayal, but I have to say, in my opinion, they’d be missing out on a fantastic read.

It was well written, well paced, and packed an emotional punch that had me literally crying, then laughing, then crying again.

This is a book that I’m going to do my best to recommend to anybody and everybody who are willing to give it a chance. Yes, I loved it that much.

You can buy MBFG here, and visit Dorothy Koomson’s website here.

Note: Loosely related to The Racism In Publishing Issue…

I thought it was fairly clever of the cover artist to have the little white girl with the blonde hair, holding the hand of the black woman. As a white reader, you probably wouldn’t notice that the hand that the little girl was holding was black, because so much of the cover was focused on the little girl herself. This way, white readers who profess to be uncomfortable with ‘black books’ aren’t confronted by anything that jars them out of their comfort zone.

After Richard and Judy included MBFG in their Top Summer Reads of 2006, Koomson, a career journalist, gained overnight literary fame, by selling over 110,000 copies of her book in a very short period of time. She made the best-sellers lists over here in England.

This was a book, written by a black woman, from the point of view of black female character.

So, how come most of the people who bought this book were white?

Simple. If you market anything effectively enough, people will buy. Richard and Judy gave it their seal of approval on their show, which meant that people were more than happy to go out and read it, regardless of the colour of the person who’d written it, and the colour of the protagonists.

Kam is a black woman who falls in love with two white men, and has been entrusted to look after a white child, but at no time did the racial element ever take over from the main theme of the story.

This was a story about the fragility of life, grief, forgiveness, and love. In short, this was a story about people. And as people, aren’t all of the above issues, something we all have in common?