February or Forever by Juliet Madison

In brief: The second book in the Tarrin’s Bay series follows Chrissie who gets to tech yoga to her idol Drew Williams, who is even nicer in person…

The good: Explores an idea we’ve all had about meeting our favourite celebrity, but doesn’t make it a Mary Sue fest.

The not-so-good: When is the third book in the series?

Why I chose it: Thought The January Wish was fantastic. Thank you to Escape Publishing and Net Galley for the eARC.

Year: 2014

Pages: 242

Publisher: Escape Publishing

Setting: Fictional town of Tarrin’s Bay, Australia

My rating: 9 out of 10

February or Forever is the second book in Juliet Madison’s Tarrin’s Bay series (the first was The January Wish). I thought it would be difficult to beat the sweet story of The January Wish, but with this book we have an equally charming story in a completely different way.

February or Forever opens with Chrissie, yoga instructor and single mother to Kai, battling it out in Tarrin’s Bay. They’ve relocated there after Chrissie inherited her aunt’s house – the plan is to renovate and sell the house for a profit. Chrissie also has a job as a yoga instructor at the exclusive Serendipity retreat. As a fairly new staff member, she wasn’t expecting to instruct a VIP in one on one sessions, but fate has a funny way of working out. Chrissie has the yoga of teaching yoga to one of her favourite singers, Drew Williams. Drew is back in his hometown for a month to avoid the fallout from a scandal. As Drew and Chrissie work together, a friendship with the possibility of something more develops…

I don’t think my above synopsis does this great story justice as there’s so much more involved. There’s the story of Chrissie’s battles with Kai, making new friendships and coming to realise how lovely life can be. There’s the importance of trust, family and knowing who your real friends are. There’s learning to stand back as your children get older to allow them to spread their wings and there’s learning to battle the demons of the past. All these and more are masterfully entwined in this novel. Tarrin’s Bay sounds like a fantastic place to live and learn how to be a better person – what a pity that it’s a fictional town!

With the Tarrin’s Bay series, I think Juliet Madison has grown as a writer in leaps and bounds to the point where her books are a ‘must read’ for me. This book is once again sweet and uplifting, but takes a much smaller group of characters – namely Chrissie, Drew and Kai. All of these characters are wonderfully complex – Chrissie and Drew both have demons to work through, but it’s done with a realistic sensitivity and doesn’t overshadow their friendship or anything further. I loved reading about the multifaceted parts of Chrissie’s life – from mum, employee, friend, lover, ex-wife down to the individual. I’d love to read more of Chrissie and Drew’s story, especially as the reader got both of their points of view. This wasn’t confusing at all; it felt perfectly natural.

If you are looking for the characters from The January Wish, you’ll find that they only appear briefly. I wonder if Sylvia and Mark’s story was playing out at the same time as Chrissie and Drew’s…anyway, February or Forever can easily be read as a standalone novel or for more of your Tarrin’s Bay fix. Beautiful and sweet but with enough substance to keep you thoroughly entertained, February or Forever is a wonderful read.

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