The Meeting Point by Olivia Lara

romantic | uplifting | escapist

what it says on the cover …

What if the Lift driver who finds your cheating boyfriend’s phone holds the directions to true love?

‘Who are you and why do you have my boyfriend’s phone?’

‘He left it in my car. You must be the blonde in the red dress? I’m the Lift driver who dropped you two off earlier.’

And with these words, the life of the brunette and t-shirt wearing Maya Maas is turned upside down. Having planned to surprise her boyfriend, she finds herself single and stranded in an unknown city on her birthday.

So when the mystery driver rescues Maya with the suggestion that she cheers herself up at a nearby beach town, she jumps at the chance to get things back on track. She wasn’t expecting a personalised itinerary or the easy companionship that comes from opening up to a stranger via text, let alone the possibility it might grow into something more…

Come on this 5* journey to love, laughter and back again, perfect for fans of Mhairi McFarlane, Josie Silver and Sally Thorne.

PUBLISHED: 2nd September 2021
SHELF: Romance
AUTHORS: Olivia Lara
FORMATS: Paperback | Kindle

Thank you to @The_WriteReads and @ReadtoRamble for arranging this blog tour, and for organising a NetGalley copy of The Meeting Point.
And praise where it’s due to @theartsyreader1 for designing the cute banner image 👏🏻

my review

If you’re in the mood for a book that’s effectively a great big flirtatious, feel-good hug, then look no further than The Meeting Point. When I settled down to read it, I had no idea that this was what I was looking for, but as the story unfolded I was more than happy to give myself up to its uplifting, heart-warming abundance.  It turned out to be the perfect antidote to recent times, reminding me of some of my favourite cosy, feel-good films – particularly You’ve Got Mail and Sleepless in Seattle – but with a perfectly modern twist.

Like these two films, The Meeting Point is unapologetically romantic, bringing two strangers together and testing the concept of ‘instalove’; a fabulous term coined by the book’s main character.  Whilst the plot follows a common and well-worn path, I hugely enjoyed the way the story romances the reader.  It’s girl-meets-boy of the most deliciously sentimental kind and I lapped it up.  Following the story of Maya and mystery-man Max has been a charming way to spend a couple of days.  Even the most wizened of hearts will find themselves swept up by the cheerful optimism of new love; the spring it puts in your stride, the rosey glow, the contented smile.  Reading The Meeting Point has been an exercise in living for the moment, relishing the details, and absorbing all the good vibes this book resonates with.  

“Being in love doesn’t make you weak or dependent. Staring at the night sky together, holding hands, looking into each other’s eyes gives you wings. It fills your heart and body with energy to accomplish everything else. I think so. I hope so. Yes, my characters all lived happily ever after, but I don’t see anything wrong with that. There’s enough sadness in the world as it is.”

It’s Maya who narrates the vast majority of the story; incurable romantic, wannabe writer, bright, warm, caring and witty. She’s immediately likeable, not least for her genuinely charming habit of writing romantic vignettes about chance encounters, placing perfect strangers from her daily life into their own happily every after.  These stories never see the light of day, and the strangers won’t ever discover the romantic triumphs of their altar egos; it’s a creative outlet in her otherwise unfulfilled life. But my word is she blinkered when it comes to her love life! At times, infuriatingly so, although without her stubborn refusal to acknowledge what’s blatantly clear to the reader the book would be without it’s will-they/won’t-they frisson, and the story would be over all too soon.

There is a flip-side to Maya’s narrative, albeit one that we don’t hear from nearly as often, and not until much later in the book.  The story of Maya and Max’s unconventional one-day romance has been written by enigmatic author, Ethan Delphy, and unlike Maya’s own notebook ditties, this one is destined for the public eye. It was only when Ethan’s excerpts were introduced that I began to feel the earlier chapters would also have benefitted from this she-said / he-said repartee.

“The more I think about it, the more I realize that day in Carmel ruined me because it offered me a glimpse into something I’ve always wanted. Those intense feelings, the butterflies, the nervousness, the smiles, the incredible conversations, the excitement, the possibilities, and that unique sensation that you’re lighter than the air and happier than you’ve ever been. Those are the exact things I gave my characters… story after story. And I had them. For one day.”

Location plays a big part in this story. By whisking Lara away from the callous grip of New York to the warm embrace of Carmel the author gives her lead character the taste of a new life. Arguably, whilst it’s the mysterious Max who gives Maya the push, it’s the effect of the town that gifts her risk-averse character the safety-net-confidence to make some massive changes to her life; to ditch her cheating boyfriend, to leave her home, and to tell her hideous boss what to do with her job. The author’s own love of this seaside town is irresistible, and whilst Maya’s character blossoms we, the readers, are being romanced with spectacular scenery, beautiful beaches, quirky architecture, and welcomed by a wider cast of convivial characters.

As unexpected as it was, I revelled in Maya’s willingness to handover control of her day to a total stranger. Okay, so that could be construed as somewhat creepy, but in the hands of the author it was cute, intimate and wholly enchanting.  The Meeting Point is generous with its bonhomie and feel-good vibes; it’s a simple story that shines due to its delightful setting, personable characters, and movie-ready magnetism. But as I mentioned earlier, Maya isn’t all that good reading the romantic signals in her life; will her single-minded focus on finding Max come at the expense of her own happily ever after?  Well, that’s something you’ll have to discover for yourself.

If this book sounds like one you’d love to read too, here’s a selection of purchase links:
• To support independent local bookshops, click ☞ here
• To feed your Waterstones ‘plus’ loyalty card, click ☞ here
• And of course, here is the ubiquitous Amazon link

author bio

As a child, Olivia not-so-quietly ‘observed’ (AKA bothered with countless questions) her grandfather — who worked for the biggest publishing house in Romania — edit hundreds of books. And when he wasn’t editing, he read. Everything, all the time. Just like her father, who wrote short sci-fi stories, and was set on building the largest library she’d ever seen and her mother who’s never found without a book…wherever she goes. Her love for words came naturally, and after studying marketing, communications & photography, Olivia worked as a journalist for a newspaper and news television network in Romania.

An unapologetic citizen of the world, she spent a few years in Greece, Sweden, France, before settling in sunny California with her photographer husband and young daughter, where she works in marketing and writes. Oh, and let’s not forget the ever-growing menagerie that completes the family: Pumpkin, the Maine Coon mix, three black cats and a siamese kitten.

When she’s not writing or thinking about writing, she reads (across genres), watches old movies and collects vintage books, vinyl records, and eerie paintings. She loves traveling (and can’t wait until she can do it again, safely), swimming, biking, hiking and of course, photography.

SOMEDAY IN PARIS, her debut, published by Aria Fiction/Head of Zeus in May 2020 became a B&N, Apple, Kobo and Amazon Top 100 Bestseller and was shortlisted for the Romantic Novel Awards 2021. Her second novel, THE MEETING POINT, a contemporary romcom set in Northern California, is set to be published as an e-book on September 2, 2021 and in paperback in December 2021 in the UK and March, 2022 in the US

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4 thoughts on “The Meeting Point by Olivia Lara

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