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Feature book: It Could’ve Been a Wonderful Life

24 March 2021

It Could’ve Been a Wonderful Life by Karin Baine

Subgenre: Christmas romance
Release date: 24 Nov 2020
Publisher: Totally Bound Publishing
Format: ebook and pri
Length: 202 pages
RRP: $8.22 (ebook); $30.99 (print)

I’ve read some of Karin Baine’s Mills & Boon Medical Romances, and they are terrific. Seeing her branch into something a little different like this book is extra delightful. The story is a little bit like marrying the films It’s A Wonderful Life with While You Were Sleeping and The Ghost and Mrs Muir. Sheer escapist fun!

When we meet Annie Marlowe, it’s true to say she’s pretty much in the doldrums, and a bit slobby to go with it, poor lamb. Her mother passed away just over a year ago (near Christmas) and she misses her dreadfully, her non-caring family are all off doing their own thing, her poky flat is a shambles, her hamster is named George Bailey (yes, from It’s a Wonderful Life), acquired because she’s so lonely, her low-paying job as sales assistant in Reece Toy Superstores is horrible because of her bullying, sly-alcohol-drinking superior and lazy colleagues, and she’s seriously into comfort eating. Good thing she lives above a bakery, where the kind owner Sam gives her melt-in-the-mouth handouts (which sound divine, omigosh, that chocolate croissant).

On the other hand, self-made millionaire David Reece, he of the Reece Toy Superstores where Annie works, is living the dream. Or is he? He has an ex-wife (who only wanted him for his money and took a good deal of it in the divorce), a flashy car, a huge show-offy house with a million access codes to access but the whole point of the house is to be, you know, show-offy, a gorgeous girlfriend called Flame—who’s about to become an ‘ex’ because she’s started talking about an engagement—and an estranged family who have grievously wounded him. In general, he is one very rich but chronically lonely man, living an empty life at the top. Poor little rich boy and all that.

On the way to a pre-Christmas function David’s driving too fast, a bit uncaring about everything and having a bit of a tiff with Flame. Suddenly his car slides out of control, and he has a shocking accident.

At ease, readers, no-one dies. However, something unusual does happen. Next thing you know, David’s ghost—spirit—whatever, still dressed in his tux—materialises in Annie’s flat.

SUCH a fabulous scene. Cue lots of screeching by Annie (as you would) and general comic ridiculousness as they cluelessly blunder around and try to figure out what on earth is happening. David can be seen and heard, but he can’t feel anything, and his hand goes straight through anything he tries to touch. It’s when Annie tries to kick him out that they both realise he’s sort of ‘stuck’ with her. Where she goes, he has to go, too. He can’t drift off by himself, or in fact even leave her flat without her. It’s only when Annie googles David that they’re horrified to learn he’s had the accident, and is actually unconscious in a London hospital with serious head injuries.

So, naturally, the first thing David wants to do is visit the hospital, to see if he can reunite with his comatose physical self. You can imagine what Annie thinks of that, sitting there in her crumb-littered fluffy onesie at 3am with George Bailey, miserably comfort eating until a ghost suddenly bursts in to disturb her and drag her across town to see his battered body. And I mean, how on earth is this all actually going to work?!

Clever Karin Baine. She makes everything happen as though it’s absolutely logical and do-able. All it takes is lots of sprinkles from her author fairy dust. I just happily went with the whole romantic fantasy, and loved it.

This story is such escapist fun at the outset, it truly is. But it’s also a story about second chances, about being true to oneself, about finding family, forgiving the past, and finding true love. Once you get past the comedy capers (which are a sheer delight), the romantic heart of the book runs deep. Both David and Annie are hurting, lost souls, and have quite a ways to go before The End.

Don’t miss out on this book.

Reviewed by Malvina

A review copy of this book was provided by the author.

One Comment
  1. Karin Baine permalink
    24 March 2021 8:36 am

    Thank you so much! xx

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