Set in the 1930s, it centres around three main characters: Nick, who puts his new night-club over and above everything else. He's a self-deprecating, toughened by life, once streetwise boy who falls in love with his lead act, Katherine, a beautiful – in mind and body – diminutive, golden-voiced singer. Completing the main trio is Ashton, a French aristocrat with name, money, title, class and good-breeding who competes for the love and affection of Katherine. Rugged Nick believes he cannot give Katherine what he believes she deserves – the life she could lead with the sophisticated French count, when all Katherine really wants is the love she knows he has for her, but refuses to admit to. It is Nick's denial and refusal to succumb to his feelings that is the catalyst of the chain of events that leads to unexpected endings for all.
I liked the subtle way in which Linda alludes to the era. There weren't blatant references, yet there was no doubt about the 30s backdrop. Linda also skilfully endears you to Nick and Kat – for all of Nick's bravado and despite his harsh childhood, he is tender-hearted and Kat grows from a slightly unworldly young girl to a defiant and assertive woman. There is nothing more that you want for these two than for them to be together. Linda's conception of the pompous Ashton is equally skilful – he is someone you want to hate, but ultimately, you find yourself liking him just a little bit, even harbouring the smallest amount of sympathy for him.
There are some harsh, adult scenes in this story, but they serve to embolden and develop the characters with the result that a novel which could verge on mushy or over-sentimental is neither. Linda has very ably conceived a tale that is touching, compelling and poignant with an ending, though not the HEA you might be hoping for, brings just a tiny glimmer of a smile to your lips.