Book review: By Her Side by Lizzy Chandler

Wednesday, December 9, 2015 Permalink

I always get nervous when I’m about to read a book by someone I know… someone I’ve met or even just someone I’ve had some contact with.

It’s a relief then when I enjoy their work – which is certainly the case with Lizzy Chandler’s latest release By Her Side.

The blurb

Rory Sutton Whitfield isn’t a princess, even though her wealthy family insists on treating her like one. Fresh from her travels and finally achieving the independence she craves, the last thing she wants is to become swept up in family problems. But her half-brother has disappeared and her grandfather insists on hiring a bodyguard for her. Rory won’t be controlled by anyone, especially not a taciturn detective like Vince Maroney, a man of few words who nonetheless arouses disturbing emotions.

Vince Maroney has learned his lesson about playing the hero; he stepped up once and it cost him everything. But when he saves the granddaughter of one of Sydney’s wealthiest men, he finds himself embroiled in events beyond his control. Rory is beautiful, smart, independent. But her family is all secrets and lies, money papered over injustices. Rory makes him feel things he thought long dead, but the pains of the past create distance, and she comes from a completely different world. How can one of Sydney’s pampered princesses ever find common ground with her reluctant bodyguard?

by her side

My thoughts

Chandler’s created really likeable characters in Rory and Vince. She could have gone with caricatures (the poor little rich girl and love interest from the other side of the tracks) but stops short of that and grounds both characters with layers of complexity. Rather than adopt those roles, the characters themselves are both really conscious not to fall into the trap of stereotyping each other.

I also loved the fact there’s no game-playing. I recently applauded a similar approach in my review of Secret Sisters. I often find romance novels formulaic—kicking off with an initial hatred which I don’t always buy into. We KNOW they’re gonna get it on at some point and I often get frustrated with the need for trickery. Such as it is. But fortunately Chandler doesn’t go down that route.

Both Rory and Vince feel an attraction to the other and have some misgivings, but the will they / won’t they?  doesn’t take over the book. And when the issue is finally broached I love that it’s done in quite a sweet manner. This may border on a #spoiler, but one of them basically presents their feelings to the other which I found to be both honest and brave (and obviously realistic cos I’m commenting on the character’s behaviour as if they were a real person!).

The novel’s short at only about 150 pages which allows it to keep a good pace. The plot itself is interesting and I found myself engaged in what was unfolding. Chandler keeps some of the ‘clues’ away from readers until near the end. Once that happened I was able to pick what was coming, but the myriad of elements at play offered something a little different.

I’d been warned about the romance / sex scenes before I read this book so I was a tad nervous but quite frankly they’re not gruesome and are handled really well. I know someone else talked about the characters’ fantasy thoughts but as an oversharer myself I didn’t mind their lustful yearnings and didn’t find them at all excessive. (Indeed I’d imagined much worse so they felt quite tame!)

This is an enjoyable and easy read, offering up a solid plot and delightful characters.

By Her Side by Lizzy Chandler is now available via Escape Publishing.

I received a copy of this book via NetGalley from the publisher for review purposes. 

  • Stormi D Johnson
    December 9, 2015

    This sounds like a good one. Not heard of this author. Great review.

    • Debbish
      December 9, 2015

      This is her second novel Stormi. Elizabeth also writes / blogs about books and promotes the work of Australian Women Writers.

  • Michelle Weaver (@pinkypoinker)
    December 9, 2015

    Great review. I don’t mind it too much if the love interest characters hate each at first. I agree it is formulaic but it’s a bit titillating Deb! Ninety per cent of movies are based on that premise too.

    • Amy Andrews
      December 9, 2015

      90% of all genre fiction is formulaic according to the individual genre reader promise or expectations. Its only romance that gets a bad rap for it….But that is my cross to bear 🙂

      • Debbish
        December 9, 2015

        Very much agree and suspect it’s a personal taste thing. I love simple mystery novels / thrillers (Sue Grafton, Janet Evanovich, JD Robb etc) and they all stick to the same formula!

    • Debbish
      December 9, 2015

      Oh absolutely Pinky. One of my fave romance novels ever (Pride & Prejudice) does it magnificently. It’s just surprising now when it doesn’t happen.

  • Char
    December 10, 2015

    I don’t mind a bit of formula either when it comes to comfort reads. There’s a satisfaction in getting what you’re looking for.

    • Debbish
      December 10, 2015

      I love my comfort reads and knowing what you’re getting probably makes them so!

  • Jan @ Notes from a Readerholic
    December 12, 2015

    Great review, Deborah. I agree with you about books where the “will they / won’t they” takes over the book. Really irritating. And nice the characters aren’t caricatures.

  • Jess
    December 14, 2015

    Sounds like a great read. And 150 pages is great because sometimes I find time to sit down and read half a book and then get dragged away not finding time to return to the rest for weeks. 150 I could charge through!

I'd love to hear your thoughts