I’m back with my fourth book review of the year! I read Billy and Me back in January, but it’s taken me a while to publish this review as I’ve been so busy with work and got caught up with other blog posts. Billy and Me is the second Giovanna Fletcher book I’ve read (the first being Dream A Little Dream), and while it has received mixed reviews, I personally really enjoyed it. Read on to find out why! (just be warned, there are a couple of spoilers!)
Sophie May has a secret.
One that she’s successfully kept for years. It’s meant that she’s had to give up her dreams of going to university and travelling the world to stay in her little village, living with her mum and working in the local teashop.
But then Sophie unexpectedly meets the gorgeous Billy Buskin – a famous actor with ambitions to make it to the top. As they begin to grow closer, Sophie finds herself whisked away from the comfort of her life into Billy’s glamorous – but ruthless – world.
After years of shying away from attention, can Sophie handle the constant scrutiny that comes with being with Billy? How much is she prepared to give up along the way? And is their love strong enough to keep them together against the odds?
Billy and Me centres on Sophie May, a quiet and sweet young woman who is quite content with her simple life in a small village in Kent. She spends her days workings at Tea-On-The-Hill coffee shop and reading classics such as Wuthering Heights and Pride & Prejudice. When teen heartthrob Billy arrives in the village to film a new adaptation of Pride & Prejudice, Sophie finds herself falling for him, and she is torn between her feelings and wanting to live a normal life.
Sophie is a wonderful protagonist, and I warmed to her straightaway. Like me, Sophie is an avid reader and likes to spend a lot of time by herself. Sophie is also very caring and has a traumatic past which she tries to ignore. Sophie has a tendency to bottle up all her emotions and has a number of insecurities, which are revealed as she gets to know Billy and spends more and more time with him. I also liked that Sophie was so keen to be independent and not rely financially on Billy when they moved to London.
I’ll have to admit that I am a bit conflicted about Billy. At the start of the book I really liked him, since he came across as a kind and thoughtful guy: for their first date, he took Sophie horse riding, which ends in a romantic picnic complete with fairy lights, a ring of bluebells, and fluffy cushions. However, as the story progressed, Billy became even more a workaholic, ditching Sophie to spend time with his acting buddies. There is an incident when Billy almost cheats on Sophie, but he quickly realises what is happening and is able to stop himself before he does something that ruins his relationship.
Speaking of relationships, Sophie has quite a complicated relationship with her mum. For many years, they didn’t really talk to each other, as Sophie was consumed with guilt about what happened to her father, and her mother was dealing with her own grief. However, in her late teenage years, there’s another incident which makes Sophie realise that her mum needs her, and she gives up the opportunity to go to uni and travel to stay with her in the village.
Billy and Me is very revealing about what it’s like to be a celebrity and to date someone famous, always being hounded by the paparazzi and having every single move scrutinised by both the public and the tabloids. Giovanna Fletcher draws inspiration from her own experience of dating Tom, a member of a hugely successful boy band. Almost immediately after Sophie and Billy start dating, photos of them end up all over the news, and Internet trolls make negative comments about Sophie, criticising her appearance and claiming that she’s not attractive enough to date Billy. Unsurprisingly, this has a negative effect on Sophie, making her feel worthless. On top of this, Sophie has to deal with Billy’s fame escalating after he wins a BAFTA award and becomes jealous when he gains many female admirers. She finds it difficult to compete with them and is scared that he is going to leave her for one of them. Which is understandable, TBH.
Billy and Me is a light-hearted read, but it does have some heartfelt moments that made me tear up, for example when Molly is hospitalised. I adored Sophie’s friendship with Molly, and the small village setting – particularly Tea-On-The-Hill: it’s a friendly café where the women of Rosefront Hill could catch up with each other and bond over tea and cake.
Having read One Snowy Week in Springhollow just before Billy and Me, I did notice some similarities between the two books: they both focus on a small village girl who falls in love with a famous actor. Billy and Me was released several years before One Snowy Week in Springhollow, so I’m sure it’s just a coincidence.
All in all, Billy and Me is a delightful novel, and I’ll be sure to pick up its sequel Always With Love in the near future. The story is engaging and well-developed, with multi-dimensional characters and a likeable protagonist. The romance between the two main characters is also believable, and they have a lot of chemistry. I’d recommend Billy and Me to anyone who loves chick-lit or any of Giovanna Fletcher’s other books.
Are you reading anything this weekend? I finished The Paper & Hearts Society by fellow blogger Lucy Powrie earlier this week (which any bookworm is bound to love), and I’m almost at the end of Lessons Learned by Amy Lynn Steele.