Thursday 24 August 2023


Book review: Always By Your Side by Julie Haworth [blog tour]

I tend to read a lot of murder mysteries and historical fiction novels, but after a while I just need some cosy comfort in my life. And when I saw the cover for Julie Haworth's debut novel, Always By Your Side, it immediately hit the spot for me. Wholesome English countryside goodness? Yes, please. 

Rose has been unhappy with her big city London life for a while. The new head at her school has a personal vendetta against her and at the same time her fiancĂ© Ollie keeps pressuring Rose to quit teaching so she can earn more money. But Rose loves her job and she doesn't aspire to live a big and flashy lifestyle. And while Ollie spends his time wining and dining with clients, Rose craves her home comforts. 

So when her elderly aunt has an accident, Rose decides to travel down to the village of Blossom Heath in Sussex to be there for her aunt. She figures a change of scenery might also help her clear her mind. What she hadn't counted on, however, is how quickly she would be swept up in village life. Rather than the fresh countryside air helping Rose figure out her priorities, an adorable doggy sidekick and a handsome farmer down the road are only making things more complicated...

Oh my goodness, I adored this book! It was exactly what I was looking for and I absolutely whizzed through it in just two days because I loved the world Julie Haworth had created so very much. As someone living in London who isn't massively career-driven (even though that is the expectation when living in the big city!), I felt I really understood Rose. 

I'm so glad she had the opportunity to leave a toxic environment for a countryside escape so she could get the perspective she needed to decide what she wanted. It gave me some much-needed perspective too. Rose thought she was going to Blossom Heath to help her aunt get better, when in reality it's Blossom Heath that helps heal her.

The first third of the novel was pretty calming to ease readers into the story. We get to know Rose and Blossom Heath and it's all fairly happy and dandy, which made for such a joyous and relaxing reading experience. But then the drama hits. And oh boy, it hits hard. Poor Rose, I really felt for her and I was on the edge of my seat throughout, crossing my fingers that all would be OK. This book really balances cute and cosy with engrossing storytelling very well – the perfect combo for a summer holiday page-turner. 

My only gripe with Always By Your Side is that Blossom Heath isn't a real place. Romantic fiction novels have been giving me unrealistic expectations my whole life, so I really should know better by now and yet... I dream of finding an idyllic village like that with a wholesome community of people to befriend (and I wouldn't say no to a handsome farmer either, ahum). It honestly is the dream. While I'm looking to find my own Blossom Heath, I'm delighted I can at least escape into a fictional one for now. 

There really aren't enough words for much I needed and loved Always By Your Side. It is such an uplifting read with a relatable protagonist, an idyllic setting, lovely villagers, furry friends, and an adorable cottage (home goals!). I know this is Julie Haworth's debut novel but with her cosy writing she has quickly become a new favourite author. While I'm hoping she will transport us back to Blossom Heath in the future, I'm also incredible excited for her next novel as the title, New Beginnings at the Cosy Cat Cafe, sounds right up my street.

Always By Your Side by Julie Haworth will be published by Simon & Schuster on 31 August 2023 and you can buy pre-order your copy now from your favourite local book shop!

Blog tour stops for Always By Your Side by Julie Haworth

This review for Always By Your Side is a part of the official blog tour for the launch of the book. Make sure to check out the other stops too!

Disclaimer: This book was gifted to me, but this has not impacted this honest review.

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