A Smile in a Whisper

Jacquelyn Middleton

Publisher: Kirkwall Books Pages: 372 Price: (paperback) $16.95 ISBN: 9781999275341 Reviewed: July, 2023 Author Website: Visit »

Jacquelyn Middleton’s sixth novel—her latest contemporary romance following 2021’s The Certainty of Chance—follows the unexpected reunion of former teenage sweethearts whose fairytale relationship had come to a gut-wrenching end.

Thirteen years ago, Evie Sutherland’s first love, a rising actor and Dalston Grove teen heartthrob Nikolai “Nick” Balfour, abandoned her without a goodbye. Rightfully devastated, Evie’s days passed in aching silence and painful regrets. Now perpetually single and in her early 30s, Evie works at Marwick’s, her mother’s local gift shop and café. Although she once left the idyllic Orkney Islands for the seemingly greener pastures of college in London, Evie knows she’s happiest at home, surrounded by the comfort of the sea.

As a person living with Crohn’s disease, it’s not always easy to date, let alone find someone who understands the challenges related to her medical condition. Evie won’t deny that she’s lonely, but archipelago life is safe and predictable—until Nick returns as the producer of a well-known historical TV drama planning to film on location. Can Evie and Nick heal old wounds and rekindle their flame?

Middleton’s novel is nearly 400 pages long, but the dual timeline narrative moves with purpose, rejecting ornamental scenes for rich moments that shed light on inner conflicts and the dynamics between the main characters. The couple’s young romance crackles with breathless wonderment and is shaped by tenderness, and their journey to reconciliation in adulthood leads to a well-deserved happily ever after that showcases the power of forgiveness.

Mental health struggles are depicted with realism and empathy; Nick’s experiences with panic attacks are portrayed without judgment; and Evie’s health issues are not written as examples of her weaknesses but rather demonstrate her inner strength and self-compassion.

Romance fans will fall head over heels for this layered, second-chance love story that delivers frank emotional vulnerability, optimistic triumph, and all the feelings genre readers relish.

Also available in ebook.

Author's Current Residence
Toronto, Canada
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