DOWN LONDON ROAD Samantha Young
Edinburgh Series, Book 2
NAL
ISBN-13: 978-0-451-41971-2
May 2013
Contemporary Romance

Edinburgh, Scotland - Present Day

Johanna Walker has always been the strong one in her family.  The only thing her mother Fiona did for Johanna and her brother Cole was to move far away from their abusive father.  Sadly, Fiona is a hopeless drunk who spends most of her disability check on liquor, so it's up to Johanna to keep food on the table and pay the bills.  Johanna works two jobs:  three nights a week at a downtown bar, Club 39; and three days a week as a personal assistant for Thomas Miekle's accounting firm.
 
Johanna's best friend, Jocelyn Butler, has offered her suggestions for a better job, but Johanna refuses to take handouts from her friends.  Instead, she plugs away at both her jobs and dates only wealthy men, "sugar daddies," as Jocelyn calls them.  Her boyfriends give Johanna expensive presents that she sells for cash on EBay.  Currently, she's seeing millionaire Malcolm Hendry.  It's when Malcolm introduces her to his friend, Cameron MacCabe, that the trouble starts.  Cameron is a graphic artist who is between jobs, and he immediately pegs Jo as a gold digger; lashing out at her for deceiving Malcolm.  Although Cameron makes Jo's heart race, she despises his insolence and is determined to ignore him. She does what she does for Cole's sake, and she would never, ever, hurt Malcolm.

Jo lives in an apartment located DOWN LONDON ROAD.  Her main goal in life is raising her teenage brother, Cole.  She keeps peace between Fiona and Cole, and sees to it that Cole attends school and stays out of trouble.  But her worse nightmare becomes a reality when Cameron is hired at Club 39 as a bartender. They fight constantly, even though Johanna breaks out in a flush every time she's near the man.  She has worked very hard to keep her tragic home life a secret, even from Malcolm, but when Cam turns up in her neighborhood, she fears discovery.

DOWN LONDON ROAD is the second book in what appears to be a series, following ON DUBLIN STREET (December 2012), which is Jocelyn's story.  I don't know if the series has a name, or if this is part of a larger string of novels. DOWN LONDON ROAD could have stood alone but for a couple of errors (which I will soon explain), so I believe it is best to read ON DUBLIN STREET first. I have to assume the author left out pertinent details thinking fans of her books would know who these characters were without a lot of explanation.

DOWN LONDON ROAD is a heartfelt and touching story.  You can't help but turn the pages as you read about Johanna's life and wonder how all this will play out.  Once you get to know the plethora of characters, they are spot on, flawlessly leading the reader through the pages.  Two things kept this book from going over the top.  The major malfunction of DOWN LONDON ROAD is that we learn every character's name in the first couple of chapters, except Johanna's!  Her first person voice narrates the story, but I did not know Johanna Walker's name until over 50 pages into the book even though someone did refer to her as "Jo" early on.  The setting is also a mystery.  Judging by the title, I assumed Johanna lived and worked in London, England.  Imagine my surprise to find I was reading about Edinburgh, Scotland (in the seventh chapter!).  I appreciate the need to keep the reader reading the book, but if this had not been a review book, it would have been delegated to the pile of returns.  It is quite frustrating having pertinent details missing from a story.  If you can get through the irritation of the first few chapters, DOWN LONDON ROAD is an excellent read.

Diana Risso