The Recipe for Happiness by Jane Lovering

Seren leads an enjoyable but narrow existence as the cook and caretaker of a day centre for the elderly in Pickering, on the edge of the North York Moors National Park. This is a popular tourist spot because of the steam train that runs to Whitby on the coast. She has a problem with going anywhere she does not know as she fears getting lost, but has no idea why.

Ned arrives at the centre as handyman and minibus driver. Seren is drawn to him, but thinks he is hiding something about his past. They both have issues to work through, but first have to open up and share their problems. This is only the beginning, as they both know there is no instant cure, but with each other’s help and understanding they may just begin to move forwards into a happier future together. Jane Lovering treads a fine line between light-hearted humour and serious mental health issues – Seren and Ned’s problems are not trivialised but treated realistically.

I’m not a dog person, but Kez is a wonderful addition to the story, an intelligent and intuitive collie who makes such a difference to Seren’s life. Without giving away too much, my favourite scene is the Open Day. Take my word for it, it will bring a smile to your face and a tear to your eye all at the same time. The characters are well drawn and believable, though I did get a bit confused at first as to who was who, and the Yorkshire setting lifts the story to another level. I am a big fan of Jane Lovering’s books and always look forward to the next one. Thanks to Boldwood Books and NetGalley for a digital copy to review.