Hot Desk – Zara Stoneley

This book contains:

  • Depicts life after COVID-19 lockdown
  • Minor unwanted advances appropriately handled and stopped
  • Minor child custody dispute.

Alice is excited to return to work after the second COVID-19 lockdown. She’s desperate to return to some form of normalcy and gain some of her own space back. She’s the second youngest of four sisters who lived under each other’s feet until she finally moved out after uni. At which point she moved into a share house with 4 roommates, got a boyfriend who didn’t mind rearranging and disposing of her possessions and her younger sister kept helping herself to her clothes.

Jamie is a bit of a mystery to us. He sits opposite Alice every day at work, seems to irritate her no end and has questionable tastes in women.

After the second COVID-19 lockdown, We Got Designs has returned to the office. Unfortunately, they’ve lost several clients and things are tight financially now. They make a deal with another company to share their office space and have their staff job share their desks with a hot desk policy.

They’re pairing up staff to share a desk on alternate days to help reduce costs without laying off staff. For Alice, she’s been assigned to share a desk with Jamie and lose yet another bit of personal space.

My first thought is that this is THE FIRST BOOK since the COVID pandemic started that actually talked about it. While I know it hasn’t been easy for people (my city has been in lockdown for more than 260 days between April 2020 and November 2021, when I wrote this review, yes I know, major delay in writing this and releasing it, sorry!), I can’t believe that by November 2021 this is the first time any book I’ve read has mentioned the pandemic. I mean, it’s a GLOBAL pandemic that has affected million and millions of people in all sorts of unimaginable ways.

How has no book before this even mentioned masks, social distancing, forced working from home, mass deaths or just generally the way our lives have changed?

I love that the whole premise of this romance was how COVID impacted us, changed us and what we’ve learnt about ourselves and our loved ones. While I know there are lots of ways to address this, I loved how this based those learnings on something that almost all of us can relate to.

Being forced to stay at home for a period of time due to a pandemic. Isolated from everyone except those we share a home with. Not to mention the fear and panic I’m sure many of us felt during this time. It was so refreshing and I’m so grateful we’ll have at least one book out there that depicts the realities we’ve all faced over the past two years.

Meet Me on Platform 3 – Zara Stoneley

This book contains:

  • Mention of abortion
  • References to and discussion about the death of a loved one/parent.

Millie and Joe both grew up on the Moors in Northumbria (northern England region) but dreamed of moving to London and being successful. While Millie pursued London despite the setbacks that seemed to make it as difficult as possible, Joe was supported by his family every step of the way.

As a writer, Millie’s security in London is only as good as her last piece of work. And recently that’s been questionable. Joe on the other hand works in a more solid industry where contracts often run longer than initially intended but working for a company that contracts him out means he could be sent somewhere other than London at the end of any project.

Millie, literally, walks into Joe and has such a sweet meet-cute she has to include meeting him in her next weekly column. She just needs to make it funnier.

As it turns out, readers of her column love the meet cute and want more of Joe which means Millie’s now on a mission to find Joe again even though she has no idea what train he was getting when she bumped into him, if he regularly gets the train on a Thursday or Friday (if at all) and if there’s any chance of seeing him again.

I smashed through this on holidays (while recovering from being horribly ill, who needs that on a holiday?) enjoying almost every minute of it. The little bit’s I didn’t enjoy so much are the bit’s you’re not meant to, because they add drama. So, it was totally fine!

Not only were both characters highly cute and sweet, but they also had depth in their flaws as they tried to find a way to work together. Since I’m not usually a fan of sweet romances, that depth and complexity added the little spicy-ness I needed to truly enjoy a romance set on the train lines of England.

I think the only thing that confused me a little as I was reading it was how the train systems worked. Sometimes if they didn’t get their train it meant they’d be without a ticket for a later train, but other times it was fine if they just waited for a later one?

That little detail probably wouldn’t be so obvious if I didn’t pretty much read the entire book in one sitting, but I did so I noticed it. If those tiny little things don’t bother you as you read your latest romance fix, then you’ll be totally fine to enjoy a sweet but complex romance.

Continue to read further down to find out about the author.

Author Bio

USA Today bestselling author Zara Stoneley was born in a small village in the UK. She wanted to be a female James Herriot, a spy, or an author when she grew up.

After many (many) years, and many different jobs, her dream of writing a bestseller came true, and more than half a million copies of her books have now been sold worldwide.

She writes about friendship, dreams, love, and happy ever afters, and hopes that her tales make you laugh a lot, cry a little, and occasionally say ‘ahhh’.

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