the gift of a lifetime book coverReviewed by Kelly Ferjutz

There is much to like in The Gift of a Lifetime, if you don’t do permanent damage to yourself in the process. You know how, while watching a scary movie, you tend to slap the side of your head while you shriek ‘don’t go there!’, or ‘don’t do that!’ to the goofy heroine? Well, there are times in this book that I had to physically sit on my hands to avoid a major headache.

At least this sort of behavior didn’t happen on a constant basis. No, really — only maybe half a dozen times in 384 pages. I’d not previously read anything by Melissa Hill, and while this book might not make a major fan out of me, neither will it deter me from reading any of her other books.

Granted, New York City is a romantic sort of place for a good many people, especially those devoted to romantic movies, as is Beth Harper, the heroine of this book. Her background is a tad different, as she is a native of Ireland, but her fondest memories are of sitting with her Grandmother, watching and absorbing the lore of romantic movies. Only after Grandma has passed away does Beth realize that she could go to New York and see it all for herself. Her most cherished possession are a pair of white Mary Jane shoes that Gram wore for her own wedding, with the hope that Beth might wear them for her wedding – whenever that might happen.

For seven years, now, Beth has been in love with, and living with, Danny Bishop, who is employed in the marketing world, not known for its stability. Beth, on the other hand, has the perfect job for a shoe maven – she sells high-end shoes at Carlisle’s – and does the displays for them, as well–most of which are based on older romantic movies.

But then, just before one Christmas, it appears that her paradise is falling apart. Danny is overly preoccupied with his work, and his absences become more frequent. At the same time, there is a handsome new guy, Ryan, at the department store where Beth works. He is obviously taken with her, and makes no bones about his feelings toward her. Beth’s friend Jodi tries to warn her about this, but it doesn’t really register.

Then, Beth receives the first of a series of notes from a secret admirer, leading her on a sort of scavenger hunt throughout Manhattan, hitting all the legacy type places: Tiffany’s, the Waldorf Astoria, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, etc., with clever clues tied to movies in which these places were featured. These are very cleverly done, and at first Beth believes them to be from Danny. But if they were from him, why does he act as though there’s another woman in his life?

All is made clear at the rather rushed ending, however, which is sure to leave you with a smile.

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First and foremost, Kelly is a reader, then a writer and editor. She adores Regency-set novels, and cozy mysteries. Every now and then, however, she finds something else to enjoy if it has a great premise with characters who belong in there, and fabulous writing! She writes under her own name, as well as her pen-name, Hetty St. James.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by St. Martin’s Griffin. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.