Bell Time | By Sophie Toovey
Book Review | Contemporary Romance
Jen is a creative, fun-loving English teacher who collects quirky cat posters. When Michael joins the department, it looks like this arrogant, ambitious hotshot might become her new boss. Jen decides to apply for the promotion, and finds herself running a school trip, struggling to control an unruly boys’ class, and trying desperately to ignore the growing attraction between her and Michael. Love wasn’t on the lesson plan, but if she can just get through an impromptu inspection, the job interview, and force the chauvinist Head to recognise her existence, then she can see if there might be a future for her and Michael outside of the classroom…
Narrative and Plot
When I started this book, I did not expect this to be one of my top favorite romance novels of the year. This book gives us exactly what it promises. A solid hate-to-love romance in the backdrop of a struggling school.
Two co-workers gunning for the same promotion and going from hate to love. It is hard not to mention The Hating Game. I am in the minority here with my unpopular opinion that I didn’t love that book. I expected the conflict and tension that comes along with a messy office romance, but it had none. But Bell Time gives me exactly that. The workplace and the struggles there are at the forefront, and I loved all that conflict.
At this point, you might be wondering why did I eat the half-star ( 4.5/5). Well, the pacing is on point for the first half and the last half, but it went a bit off-road in the middle. I found out that this is a series after I finished the book. (Always a pleasure, especially when you end up loving this world.) Maybe that whole portion of the story was a setup for the upcoming book. I do not know that, but it just made the book long and it wouldn’t have made much difference if we had shortened certain events from the middle portion of the book. The story would remain the same. Other than that, this is a perfect romance novel.
Characters and Conflicts
The two main characters were fleshed out quite well. There wasn’t just one fatal flaw that they both had to overcome in order to get to their Happily Ever After. That’s not how things work for real people. I’m so glad to meet a protagonist like Jen who had several flaws, however small they may be and had a lot going on for her. It might sound sad, but a full-time working protagonist with an overworked and underpaid job is a relatable protagonist for me. Welcome to the real world, girl.
The same goes for Michael. He wasn’t the perfect fictional boyfriend who always knew the right thing to say or do. No shame in those fictional perfections. A girl can always dream. However, once in a while, it is nice to read about a man who is vulnerable and yet isn’t confident enough to expose that side of him.
Overall, I enjoyed this book a lot. I am definitely looking forward to reading this book. From the acknowledgments, I found out that the author is also a teacher and it shows. The whole curriculum and struggles of teachers. I am not a teacher, but I have friends and cousins who are. Despite being on the other side of the planet, the struggle remains the same.
Bell Time is also a conscious effort from me to break the pattern (the algorithm) and read something different other than the few popular books that manage to circle around social media at a given point of time. I love those books, but I have always wanted my subscribers to find new reads through my blog. I hope this one finds more readers.
And just like that, I found another author who is going to be on my follow list so that I can stalk all her works.
So, if you are a fan of authors like Sophie Kinsella ( especially early books), Catherine Walsh and Jill Mansell, you will end up loving this one.
I received an e-copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.