On the face of things, Bea Stevens is very different to Deborah Klée’s previous heroine, Angie, in The Borrowed Boy. But scratch a little deeper and there are similarities – Bea may well have learned to adopt a glossy veneer, but she still feels very much the outsider looking in at the prestigious Hartleys department store where she works. Bea is extremely good at what she does, but she lacks the ability to schmooze the high-maintenance customers, leaving her vulnerable when promotions loom.
‘She may sell a lot of stuff but she’s a bit self-centred. I don’t think the management below stairs rate her; she doesn’t have a good word for any of the delivery boys or the despatch staff and you have to get on with everyone as head of department. Bea’s only interested in Bea.’
This isn’t actually true, but she is socially awkward, sometimes to amusing effect. However, when she realises that she has been responsible for a former colleague moving onto the streets, and then disappearing altogether, the novel takes a new turn and Bea is tipped into a whole new world of homelessness and financial insecurity.
Klée shows that everyone is potentially vulnerable, one pay check away from finding themselves without anything, and prey to those who will take advantage. However, despite the bleak subject matter, Just Bea is a warm-hearted novel, one which shows both the darker side of life and the decent side of human nature. Just as in The Borrowed Boy, help for Bea comes from unexpected sources; those on the margins of society are shown to have some of the kindest hearts. And as Klée says in her dedication – they matter. I really like Klée’s style, and her ability to craft characters we want to know and care about. I’m not able to commit to many blog tours at the moment, but this is one I knew I had to be a part of. If you haven’t already read one of her novels, Just Bea is an excellent place to start.
Just Bea – the Blurb
Sometimes you have to stop trying to be like everyone else and just be yourself
Bea Stevens and Ryan O Marley are in danger of falling through the cracks of their own lives; the only difference between them is that Bea doesn’t know it yet.
When her world is shaken like a snow-globe, Bea has to do what she does best; adapt. Homeless man Ryan is the key to unlocking the mystery of her friend Declan’s disappearance but can she and Ryan trust one another enough to work together?
As the pieces of her life settle in new and unexpected places, like the first fall of snow, Bea must make a choice: does she try to salvage who she was or embrace who she might become?
Just Bea takes the reader on a heart-warming journey from the glamour of a West End store to the harsh reality of life on the streets and reminds us all that home really is where the heart is.
Deborah has worked as an occupational therapist, a health service manager, a freelance journalist, and management consultant in health and social care. Her protagonists are often people who exist on the edges of society. Despite the very real, but dark, subject matter her stories are uplifting, combining pathos with humour. They are about self-discovery and the power of friendships and community. Just Bea is her second novel. Her debut The Borrowed Boy was published last year. Deborah lives on the Essex coast. When she is not writing she combines her love of baking with trying to burn off the extra calories.
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My thanks to Rachel @rararesources for my review copy. Catch the rest of the Blog Tour here: