Wednesday, 9 September 2015

"Already Taken" by Caroline Grace-Cassidy.

I received a copy of this title, from the publishers, in return for an honest review...

Dubliner, Kate Walsh, is content with her life.  She has quit her 'brown' job, started a new venture ( as an event escort, but who only does what it says on the tin) and dances her troubles away with her best friend, Phillip.  Living independently, in her Ringsend apartment, she visits her sister daily, while managing to avoid her alcoholic father.  The girls have not seen their mother since she walked out on them years before and they need her help.  A letter from their Aunt starts off a journey of hope, laced with some bitter memories.  Meanwhile, a chance encounter in the local butcher shop awakens a longing in Kate.  A longing to be loved.  But is she ready to share her life?  Can she ever trust anyone fully? Is it too late to forgive?  Maybe Hugh can help her dance away her demons...

This is the fourth novel from Irish writer, Caroline Grace-Cassidy, and the first I have reviewed on BleachHouseLibrary.  
Kate is a relative loner.  She adores her sister, Ciara, who has a medical condition called aplastic anaemia and badly needs a bone marrow donor.  Their father is an alcoholic who drove their mother away and Kate blames him for her miserable childhood. Dance is her way of letting off steam.  She sees scenes from Flashdance in her head and heads to the local dance classes to shake off her troubles.  Best mate, Phillip, is there for her.  He runs the dance studio and understands Kate's need to escape into the world of movement.  He cajoles her, entertains her, supplies her with advice (not always great) and wine.  All the things a best friend should do.  
Hugh is a man carrying a heavy load of guilt.  Himself and Kate are attracted to each other from the get-go, but will his guilt, and her fear of trust, be their downfall?  

Caroline Grace-Cassidy uses her characters to tell this story.  Kate is fiesty yet fearful, confident yet still insecure, cutting while caring.  She is human,  Hurt by her past, she tries to make her future something she can be comfortable in.  There is a doubt that she could afford to live on her own in Dublin, with her distinct lack of finances and no job, but that's what's great about fiction.  You don't have to worry about paying the bills.  Hugh is a stereotypical Englishman.  Well-mannered public school boy with floppy hair and great dress sense.  Wealthy, educated, handsome and with a huge heart, he balances out the more cynical and salt-of-the-earth Kate.   

The backstory of Kate and Ciara's childhood is the part that I enjoyed most.  Their parents each having their own issues, the selective memories that hang around Kate's head, the smells and sounds which remind her of dark times.  These were clever insights into the world of a child who lives with an alcoholic.  Again, the novel barely touches on the realities of recovery, or the trauma, expense and heartbreak that it usually entails.  The overall package of the book is great, with fantastic characters and some clever storylines.  There are, however, many mistakes throughout the text and these really began to irritate me.   They could have easily been avoided with some proof reading.  Despite this,  I really enjoyed the novel.  It is warm and funny with some real heartwarming characters.  Ringsend is lovingly described and I wish Phillip was real, so he could be my best friend!  The author's love of dance and of classic 1980s movies is something that hops off the page and made me root out my Flashdance DVD and CD soundtrack.  Any excuse :)

Already Taken is published by Poolbeg and is available in paperback and ebook format.  You can order your copy, with Free Worldwide Postage, here.  The ebook can be ordered via amazon link below:


  1. Such a great review, very well written. I love the way you write about books.

    1. Thanks Suze. I really lose myself in the pages of a book and try to get the idea of them into a review, without spoilers. Think you will like this one :)


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