Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
“One night changes everything…”
An unexpected pregnancy turns Charlotte’s life upside-down, and as a reader, I felt incredibly lucky to be sharing this journey with her. Barnard has impressed me once again with her hilarious writing and keen eye for detail, and I’m so happy to be sharing my review! If you love a good romcom with humour that’ll make you quite literally laugh out loud, you can’t NOT read this one!
One night changes everything…
She’s an aspiring fashionista with her eyes on her career. He’s a government official who’s married to his country.
From the moment Charlotte Bellswain and Arthur Ellison meet, their chemistry is off the charts. Everything about them is wrong, but neither of them can resist one stolen night together. Even if the consequences are life changing. He warns her he’ll let her down. More than once. And that the eyes of the country are on them both. That doesn’t stop her hoping that he might just change his ways and grow a heart.
Can a creative soul and an analytical mind put aside their differences and navigate this pregnancy together? They need to make their minds up as time is running out…
After reading Cock and Bull last year, I’ve loved how this author just tells it as it is in her stories. She’s not afraid to tone down her intimate scenes in fear of offending anyone, nor does she carefully tread around the detail. Barnard’s writing is raw, real and really bloody entertaining! She doesn’t tip-toe around Charlotte and Arthur’s instant attraction to one another at the start of this book either, and the two instantly hit it off. However, could two people with such different lives ever be able to make things work? I loved the humour in the book straight away which was written in true Barnard style, and the characters we meet are instantly likeable. The pace is very fast to start with, but it just worked and kept me reading chapter after chapter. I was already curious to learn more about Charlotte’s fashionista lifestyle in comparison to Arthur’s very important political one, and it would be interesting to see how/if things could ever be serious between the two. A brilliant opening!
The way we hear the story from both Charlotte and Arthur’s points of view really helps us to get to know these characters better, and I was so impressed with how the author had switched her writing style slightly to fit with two different personalities. Reading from each viewpoint was great and I had so many laughs along the way, and as Charlotte and Arthur agree to meet for dinner to get to know each other better, I could just sense perhaps a little awkwardness from Charlotte and maybe a bit more lust from them both. Would they be able to keep their hands off one another this time?! Little did they know, they’d soon have a very big issue on their hands… The book is consistent, brilliantly paced and just thoroughly entertaining. Just what I needed after a recent longer read! After a night of passion, we skip a few weeks of the story which I was confused about at first, but then it all becomes clear. The reality sets in…
“For now, I’m just going to ignore it. Bury my head in the sand and pretend it’s not happening. I have time to decide. Plenty of time.”
Charlotte takes a pregnancy test. It’s positive. Holy sh*t, can you imagine after not feeling certain about your future with the father? Actually, we can imagine really well as the author has perfectly portrayed a woman who is completely and utterly gobsmacked at the results. She’s not only described the seriousness of the positive test, but she also provides plenty of food-for-thought. What would you do in Charlotte’s circumstances? At this point in the book, she hasn’t seen Arthur for two months since that wild night – she has to tell him though, right?! Reading Charlotte and Arthur’s separate thoughts at this part of the book was particularly important and makes us realise that they’re both dying to see each other deep down, even if their work doesn’t allow it. However, with Charlotte nabbing herself a new job interview, the pair may just end up being a lot closer than they anticipated… The plot so far was really great and so addictive!
This story felt a little different to other books of this genre. We seem to jump through time, days and months, but it doesn’t stop us from getting to know these characters well, becoming attached to them or really understanding the story. Everything works, and I feel the fast pace just makes us even more keen to continue reading! I liked how things progress slowly and the pair do eventually begin to get to know each other properly. However, Charlotte still can’t bring herself to tell Arthur her big news. Just how much longer would it take for her to build up that confidence? How long could she go without him noticing she is quite obviously very pregnant? Would she even admit the baby is his? I had so many questions for the middle of the book, and I couldn’t wait to continue with these characters on their journey, wherever it may lead. The opening to this book is what every romcom lover craves!
The truth comes out at quite possibly the worst time and it did not go to plan, at all! I felt so sorry for Charlotte here. Arthur is so confused by how the baby could possibly be his, but he’s forgetting one certain event. I could feel so much emotion between both of the main characters here, and the author had written their frustrations really well. It was clear they’d both have to step up and make things work for the baby. With plans to move into Arthur’s place, it seems the two are willing to give things a go. Things were already complicated between them, how could it get any more complicated?! I love how we’re always right there with the characters in every decision they make, and up to now, I thought their joint decisions would work well. I just hoped they could keep this up until the baby is born and beyond! The author keeps things light and easy to read, even though important and difficult decisions are being made.
The author’s humour just gets better and better, and I was almost close to tears as Charlotte has to let the maternity ward know exactly why she was on her knees (cheeky) after she passed out! I loved the balance of fun and seriousness in the book, even more so after Charlotte and Arthur announce a fake engagement to keep the press on their side. No matter how rebellious and spontaneous this was, I almost felt sorry for Charlotte in the situation she was in, that she had to do so much out of her comfort zone to make things right for her and the baby. Arthur was trying hard to juggle his new found role as well as dedicate his time to his very important job. Would they be able to keep this up? Even though there was pressure, I thought they made a great team and was confident they’d get through anything together! Despite the fake engagement, would they eventually fall in love? Would they ever have a life together, just the three of them?
“Having him look into my background has just confirmed all of my worries. He doesn’t trust me and probably never will. I’ll always be that woman who trapped him with a baby.”
Charlotte’s pregnancy is coming to an end, and between having the world’s most embarrassing problem in a baby shop and herself and Arthur unable to reach a mutual decision about the nursery décor, it’s safe to say the atmosphere in the book right now feels very tense and stressful! However, Arthur’s friend, James, offers to plan her baby shower – after not being so keen on this friend right away, I felt a teeny bit different about her with just how much she tries to help, and I knew Charlotte was feeling the same way. Despite their minor disagreements, I was so happy with how Charlotte and Arthur’s relationship was progressing, and even though their engagement was fake, they seemed to be getting closer and closer, especially with how close Charlotte was to the birth of her baby. Just how would the birth of their child affect their relationship? I hoped they’d manage to really become husband and wife one day as I loved them both so much at this part of the book!
I started to get a little concerned by Charlotte’s ex, Josh, appearing on the scene (which always seems to happen in a romcom!) She agrees to meet him for dinner when Arthur cancels, and some of the things they discussed made me wonder whether Arthur was the right guy for Charlotte after all. After worrying about Josh, it soon became clear that he was genuine and that he wasn’t here to cause trouble between Charlotte and Arthur. Things don’t go that great with these two after an unfortunate mayonnaise incident, and it isn’t long before the arguments start. Charlotte needs to understand what she wants from Arthur before things really go downhill! The middle of the book was such entertaining reading that was so easy to get into, and it was here where I was trying to work out what sort of a future Charlotte and her baby were going to have. I couldn’t wait for the end of the book to meet this baby and see just how much it changes their lives!
There are so many awkward and cringe-worthy scenes in the book that made me feel so sorry for Charlotte (as it’s always her that seems to experience them) but also made me laugh so much! I’ve been cheered up so much by reading her misfortune (sorry Charlotte) and the author has just nailed every scene and succeeded in perfectly writing the weird and wonderful. Charlotte even manages to nab herself six weeks on crutches. Obviously, being heavily pregnant and on crutches isn’t the most ideal situation to be in! However, the author once again switches to a more serious tone effortlessly as Charlotte fears there may be a serious problem with the baby. I was holding my breath here and hoping and praying that Charlotte and the baby would be okay after their urgent hospital visit. The author really knows her stuff about pregnancy and hospital procedures which made everything feel much more real – I really appreciate this in a book!
From failed IKEA trips to false alarms in the childbirth department, the pressure continues to build up for poor Charlotte. Arthur knows he needs to step up and be there for Charlotte much more, and he attempts to take the relevant steps to prepare for fatherhood, but Charlotte isn’t convinced it’s enough. I was shocked at just how Arthur’s mother was speaking of her at the baby shower Charlotte didn’t even want, and I really wanted to reach into the pages of the book and give her the biggest hug! I felt as though she really needed to just think about herself and the baby at this stage. I loved just how much the author tugs at the reader’s heart strings the closer we get to the end of the book, and I knew Charlotte really wanted the pregnancy to be over so she could pour her heart and soul into looking after her little bundle of joy. Whether Arthur would be in her life after her pregnancy, I couldn’t predict, but we’d soon find out!
“I start Christmas alone, as I’ve always been. Except now I’ve had the taste of love I don’t intend to let it go. Charlotte isn’t going to run that easily.”
Things finally seem to look up for Charlotte and Arthur as he lets her know exactly how he feels about her. We also see an absolutely lovely gesture from Charlotte’s best friend, Eloise. My heart was filled with warmth from her actions and I felt a lump in my throat with just how happy Charlotte seemed! After seeing her so fed up for so long, this really made the happy, confident Charlotte we knew from the beginning of the book return, something I’d wanted for a while throughout reading. I was desperate for this baby to be born, but there were a few events to get out of the way first. One of these being Arthur’s mother’s Christmas Eve party. Even this was eventful! The author is so great at keeping her readers attention from beginning to end, and with Arthur and James mysteriously disappearing, I automatically feared the worst. However, was everything as it seemed? I knew Charlotte was simply overreacting as it’s obvious how Arthur feels about her.
I was desperate for that ending where everything would hopefully fall into place for this couple I’d grown an obsession with in this book, and I was not disappointed in the slightest. Even though James tries to stir up trouble, (grrr I hated that woman!) Charlotte and Arthur speak through their problems like adults, which just proved that they’re right for one another. The ending made my heart swell with joy; it’s romantic, filled with passion, and made me realise even more why people rave about Laura Barnard books in the community! Even though we don’t read much about the baby that this book was so focused on when it was growing in Charlotte’s belly, I felt the way the author had approached this was perfect. We get the answers we want, and our imaginations are let loose with how the birth went! A fantastic book, but I expected nothing less from this author!
This book is the prime example of what Barnard does best. It’s the perfect romcom with the ideal balance of fun and seriousness to keep a reader invested, with two complete opposites for main characters who are just right for one another! I was so impressed by the story in this one, and it definitely isn’t just your average love story. It’s so much deeper than that as we explore everything Charlotte goes through in her pregnancy, as well as her rocky relationships with others along the way. Perfectly put together and incredibly addictive from beginning to end. I don’t think this author could write a bad book if she tried!
A huge thanks to the author, Laura Barnard, for my copy of this book to read and review! You can purchase your own copy of Whitehall Baby on Amazon on March 2nd, available on Kindle and in paperback. Make sure you follow the author over on Instagram for more updates!