Review: A Brit on the Side by Brenda St. John Brown

Posted August 15, 2016 by Lola in Contemporary, Coyer, Review, Romance / 16 Comments


A Brit on the SideA Brit on the Side (Calder Castle #1)
by Brenda St. John Brown

Rating: 4 stars

Bea’s English escape plan:
• Work in a real British castle
• Quality time with bestie
• Figure out what spotted dick really is
• Fall for bestie’s older brother. Hard.

Bea Gillespie would rather do anything than teach summer school math two classrooms down from her ex-fiancé. So when her best friend, Scarlett, invites her to England for the summer to work in her family’s castle-turned-hotel, she jumps at the chance.

Now Bea’s an ocean away from her problems at home, but she’s got a bigger one. A British one. Scarlett’s older brother, Jasper, is at Castle Calder for the summer, too. And he’s as sexy and smart as Bea remembers. Two years ago Jasper came stateside, and he and Bea shared a hot weekend. But that’s all it was — a weekend. One she purposely didn’t tell Scarlett about.

It didn’t feel like much of a secret until now. As Bea falls for Jasper, what started off as a fling begins feeling more and more like the kind of thing you’d gush about to your best friend. If you hadn’t been lying to her all along.

My Review:
I received a copy in exchange for an honest review

This was such a fun and romantic read. Bea has just broken up with her ex-fiancé and she just wants to get away from it for a bit, so she gets to stay the summer in the UK at the castle her best fiend Scarlett her parents own. What she didn’t count on was that Scarlett her brother Jasper would be there too. They shared a hot hook-up years ago that Bea never told her best friend about. I really enjoyed this book, it was a great read.

This is mainly a romance book, but there’s so much more to it as well. From the setting in the UK castle hotel to the topic of friends, body image issues, standing up for yourself and more. I love the setting in the UK and at the castle, it just added something fun to the story and I have a weak spot for books set at a hotel. Not sure why, but it works for me. I liked seeing Bea deal with this new environment and there are some fun mentions about differences between the US and the UK. I also liked how she worked at the hotel and found her place there.

There was a part at the end of the book were I would’ve liked a certain topic to be expanded a bit more, it didn’t feel rushed, but it feels like we sorta skip over a part and it just felt a bit off. Also I am really curious who the other books in this series will be about, my guess is Claire and Scarlett will each get their book?

Bea is a fun main character. I really liked how she dealt with things. She didn’t always make the best decisions and jumped to conclusions or made mistakes sometimes, but she felt real. And she really shows her personality. With her persistence to learning to work in the kitchen, to her relationship with jasper to how she handles the situation in London. I really liked how she handled the London situation (not giving more details because spoilers), she really stood up for herself and I think she handled things well. When I first realized she was counting calories I was afraid I wouldn’t like where this was going as I don’t like reading about people who are dieting. But in the end I really liked how the author handled the topic. I also liked seeing the little changes in Bea over the course of the book, it felt very realistic. And she never changed instantly, it was all slow going and felt real.

There’s also a rich cast of side characters. I think Lou might have been my favorite, she’s great in the kitchen and also teaches Bea a lot of things, not all of them cooking related. And Claire is great too, she was a good friend to both Bea and Scarlett. I never fully warmed up to Scarlett however. Not sure why, but I just never fully liked her. But maybe that’s because we only see Bea her point of view and never get into Scarlett her head. I also liked how Bea her ex was handled and how Bea didn’t hate him, but just knew they weren’t right for each other. I thought it was dealt with very maturely and I liked that.

The romance was really well done. It’s awkward and real and while you might think they would pick up from where they left of that weekend, they don’t. They have some issues to work through and it’s actually quite the slow building romance. I just would’ve liked more, but that can also be because I really liked these two together. I liked how Jasper really cared about Bea and made her feel confident and beautiful. I also liked how Bea and Jasper both have their flaws and at the start have some trouble knowing how to deal with the situation, but I liked how they worked things out. There are also some pretty hot scenes, which were well written. There’s very little drama and what drama there was was dealt with realistically.

To summarize: This was a great romance book! From the setting in a hotel to the romance to the side characters and the plot lines it deals with. I felt there was a good balance between the different topics in this book. I also really liked how the author dealt with the topic of Bea her dieting/ body image as it’s normally something I don’t like reading about. Bea is a great main character and I liked how real she was and how we really see her personality with how she deals with things. I liked seeing her adapt to the new environment and working in the castle. The romance is surprisingly slow building as these two have to work through some things first. I liked seeing them fall for each other, there are some very sweet and some hot scenes. I liked their romance. This book also felt realistically with how changes go slowly and how people reacted and dealt with things, I liked that. Overall this was a great read and I am already looking forward to the other books in this series.



Tell me about the last book set in the UK or in a hotel that you read about?

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16 responses to “Review: A Brit on the Side by Brenda St. John Brown

  1. The last book I read set here in the UK is ‘After You’ by JoJo Moyes. I love her writing and she pretty much nails the faultlines running through our society here. However, she just keeps dropping the odd element in without hitting you over the head with it – so that an escapist junkie like me will still return to her contemporary stories without feeling the need to run away and find a military sci fi or vampire-ridden urban fantasy to hide in…

  2. I have a thing for books set in hotels too, they are a fab setting. I also love slow build romances and characters that feel real so that’s a lot of pluses for this book! Sounds like a good read. The last book I read that was set in the UK was yesterday, it’s was YA – Am I Normal Yet by Holly Bourne and it was amazing!
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  3. This does sound good. I think the last romance book I read where they were in a hotel was Vampire Vacation by C.J. Ellisson. A very good vampire romance centered around a hotel in Alaska. I do love this series.
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  4. This sounds like a nice summer-y read to me with her traveling to work in the castle for the summer and having a romance. I like that there is more to it with the other issues giving it some depth. I feel the same way of wanting more romance when I really love the characters.

    My last UK book was We Are All Made of Stars. It’s been a while for a hotel setting so I can’t recall a specific one. I like those too.

    • Yes summer seemed like the perfect time to read this one with how the book takes place during summer. The character were great and I just wanted more of them.

      I don’t read a lot of books with hotels setting, but I do really like them. I have read a few UK settings things year. I like the title of the book you read!
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  5. That’s great that the book included some important things like body image and standing up for yourself! I love when books manage to incorporate those kinds of things into the story. And I had no clue you had a weak spot for books set in hotels lol. I’m learning new things about your reading tastes! That’s also cool that it pointed out some differences between the US and the UK. I have read books set there, but never American characters going there. So the differences weren’t really pointed out.

    It’s also great that Bea was realistic. I mean, it IS realistic to make bad decisions and things like that sometimes, you know? And sometimes romances are a little awkward. So it sounds like the author did those things well. I can see why you liked this one 🙂
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    • It was interesting how those important things got included in the book, it was nicely woven in between the other parts. I don’t read a lot of books set in hotels, so that’s probably why it never came up before, but it really makes for a fun setting.

      I think the author was originally from the US and now lives in the UK, so you really notice she knows what she’s talking about and it’s fun to see the differences between the US and the UK.

      I agree it is realistic to mess things up or jump to conclusions sometimes and make mistakes. Bea really was a great character to read about and I like how real she felt.

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