By: Julia Whelan
Published Year: 2018
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Thank you to Goodreads for the opportunity to read this book! I won an advanced copy in a Goodreads Giveaway :)
Summary (Provided by Goodreads): Set amidst the breathtaking beauty of Oxford, this sparkling debut novel tells the unforgettable story about a determined young woman eager to make her mark in the world and the handsome man who introduces her to an incredible love that will irrevocably alter her future—perfect for fans of JoJo Moyes and Nicholas Sparks.
American Ella Durran has had the same plan for her life since she was thirteen: Study at Oxford. At 24, she’s finally made it to England on a Rhodes Scholarship when she’s offered an unbelievable position in a rising political star’s presidential campaign. With the promise that she’ll work remotely and return to DC at the end of her Oxford year, she’s free to enjoy her Once in a Lifetime Experience. That is, until a smart-mouthed local who is too quick with his tongue and his car ruins her shirt and her first day.
When Ella discovers that her English literature course will be taught by none other than that same local, Jamie Davenport, she thinks for the first time that Oxford might not be all she’s envisioned. But a late-night drink reveals a connection she wasn’t anticipating finding and what begins as a casual fling soon develops into something much more when Ella learns Jamie has a life-changing secret.
Immediately, Ella is faced with a seemingly impossible decision: turn her back on the man she’s falling in love with to follow her political dreams or be there for him during a trial neither are truly prepared for. As the end of her year in Oxford rapidly approaches, Ella must decide if the dreams she’s always wanted are the same ones she’s now yearning for.
I love the cover of this book! Plus, if you put the word Oxford in a title it will immediately pique my interest. I love stories set in England, even more so since visiting. The cover and summary shot this book to the top of my anticipated books of 2018 list.
What I thought
Ella Durran is a Rhodes scholar from Ohio who has had a lifelong dream of studying at Oxford (I can definitely relate!). She is at the airport when she receives a call to join the political team of a potential presidential candidate. Unwilling to give up on her dream of studying at Oxford, she manages to secure the job remotely, with the promise of coming home to the job when her year at Oxford ends in June. While in Oxford, she meets a handsome British stranger her priorities are changed. Whether it’s for the better or worse, she will find out.
Ella’s beginning at Oxford is a dream for me. I loved reading about her experience of classes and meeting friends, as well as exploring the town. The first time she meets Jaime, her love interest, is great too. It’s just the right amount of cute, embarrassing, awkward, and anger inducing. The development of the relationship between Jamie and Ella was delightful. I also loved how strong of a character Ella was. She is extremely smart and good at what she does. She is determined and doesn’t allow anyone to divert her from what she wants to do.
As mentioned in the above summary, Jamie is hiding a life-changing secret. While the secret is a bit predictable, the way that it is handled is done well. I loved the way that Ella handled finding out Jamie’s secret. I find that in contemporary stories, when there is a secret the way that people react is never realistic. Or maybe it’s just not my version of realistic? Either way, this finally felt true to me. Maybe it’s because Ella is a logical person, as am I, but it was wonderful to read.
Without spoiling anything, I also appreciated the way that Ella handled her decision to follow her dream job or to stay with a man she is falling in love with. There were a lot of tough decisions to make and nothing was done lightly or easily.
I also loved all of the characters. I mentioned my love for Ella already, but Jamie was also a delight. Ella’s friends were enjoyable side characters that added a nice second dimension to the story without taking away from the most important pieces.