Lily Bennett’s Bucket List – Book Review

Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

“What would Lily Bennett do?”

This book was everything I needed to read right now. Fun, uplifting, heart-warming and utterly beautiful (and I’m not just saying that because Katherine is from my neck of the woods!) Lily Bennett’s Bucket List is a story about finding yourself, letting the right people in and letting go of everything that holds you back, mixed with a whole lot of adventure. And Katherine tells Lydia Grey’s story flawlessly. I’m so happy to be sharing my (long awaited) review for one of my new favourite rom coms of the year!

About the book

What would Lily Bennett do?

This is the question Lydia Grey finds herself asking when she discovers Lily’s bucket list at the bottom of her shopping trolley. Having just run into her ex – and his supermodel gorgeous new girlfriend – while doing the walk of shame, Lydia’s discovery takes her down an unexpected path…and into the company of Jake Jones.

Jake mistakes Lydia for Lily when he offers to help her complete the list, but tempted to be someone – anyone – other than plain old Lydia Grey for once in her life, Lydia doesn’t correct him.

Now, as each new adventure brings Lydia and Jake closer, her lie threatens everything. To complete the list she’ll need to tackle #9: ‘do the scariest thing you can think of’, but how can she do that when the scariest thing she can think of is telling Jake the truth…which could mean losing him forever?

The beginning

Lydia seems to have the worst luck with dates. She even makes up (hilarious) nicknames for the men she meets and it seems that the worse the date, the worse the name. I’m looking at you, Garlic Sausage Man. After her divorce from Adam, the absolute love of her life, Lydia promised her daughter she’d try again. Try and meet someone that would, by some complete miracle, live up to what she’d once had. And that’s all it took for me to be absolutely OBSESSED with this book. I was instantly in love with how Katherine Dyson writes. Her words are so descriptive and the humour is injected into all the right places. As for Lydia herself, this character seemed someone I’d love to be friends with. She was so likeable and quite frankly, I didn’t have a clue why Adam had left her. Although, I was sure I’d find out pretty soon! As openings go, this was definitely a memorable one, an opening that completely had my attention and made me crave more. Lydia, I’m rooting for you!

One thing that really stood out to me as I got into this book was the personalities of everyone we meet. They came to life in such an effortless way. Lydia’s friend, Tosh, was just a perfectly developed character. I loved how annoying but fun he was, how he was there for her and how he guided her in a way, made her see sense where she didn’t see any. He seemed the kind of friend everyone needed! Every scene he was in put a huge smile on my face. But one scene which did not put a smile on my face was when Lydia bumps into Adam and his glamourous new girlfriend in the supermarket. Not only was Lydia heartbroken at the sight of him, but she also looked horrendous after last night’s shenanigans. I really felt for her! However, this scene was also a crucially important one, because it’s the scene where Lydia finds Lily Bennett’s bucket list left in the bottom of her trolley. The excitement! Lydia has no idea just how much her life would change at this point, and I was so excited to take this journey with her.

“Lily wasn’t like her. She might not have seen adventure before, but she’d made a plan. She wasn’t standing still, like Lydia. She was moving forwards, grabbing life with two hands and going after the things she wanted. The life she wanted.”

With a plan to be more adventurous, Lydia decides to tick off every activity on Lily Bennett’s bucket list. I loved Lydia’s courage and her desire to finally be happy, and hopefully it would help her feel more at peace with Adam’s new relationship (even though her primary goal at this point was to win him back!) What made me even more excited about her plans was a certain message on her dating app, a message from someone who didn’t send her crotch shots or cringey chat up lines like she was used to. Jake seemed someone who was very much in the same situation as Lydia, someone who just wanted a little bit of adventure (and to stop his sister pestering him to get his life in order.) The idea that Lydia could have a companion in which she could complete each of Lily Bennett’s goals felt so heartwarming, like having her own personal cheerleader, someone to encourage her if she felt scared or nervous. Even though neither of them were looking for love, would they find it in each other?

Despite there being a theme of positivity and making the most of life in this book, I also felt a bit stressed about Lydia’s journey – Jake thinks she is Lily Bennett and that they’ll be making their way through the bucket list that she wrote! Too much time had passed for her to tell him she was someone else completely and after all, what did it matter if he was simply accompanying her throughout each activity and then getting on with his own life? I loved that Lydia doesn’t actually know everything about Jake either, that he has some secrets of his own… It felt so thrilling as we join Lydia and Jake checking off the first item on the bucket list: Ride a rollercoaster. It brought back memories of going to theme parks when I was younger and it filled my heart with so much joy! Again, the description was excellent and it captured all those thoughts and emotions I’m sure anyone would go through before riding a coaster for the first time. I couldn’t wait to see how Lydia would cope going through the rest of Lily’s list!

The middle

The more I got into this book, the more I realised just how much of an easy read it was for me. Picking it up to read another chapter quickly became a highlight of my day and I was always curious to see how Lydia would take a little more adventure in her life. The more time she spends with Jake, the more comfortable she feels and the more she reveals about her life. She was still Lily Bennett to him though. Would she ever come clean?! We get close to learning more about Jake’s life, and I was desperate to hear his story, but it was clear he wasn’t quite ready to share which I appreciated. The author keeps us entertained and curious, and with each passing chapter, I fell in love with all these characters more and more. Lydia’s family in particular were always delightful and amusing, and the fact Lydia fibbed about who Jake was to prevent her mother pairing her up with someone she really wasn’t interested in was always fun to read!

From horse-riding to jumping off that terrifying 10m diving board, the adventures keep coming, some pushing Lydia further than she’s ever been pushed before, others a complete awe-inspiring experience. But aside from the adventures and Lily’s bucket list, Lydia also has to face some harsh truths – like Adam finally filing for divorce. Even though this breaks her heart, it was around this point in the book where it’s clear that Adam isn’t really good for Lydia at all. We learn of all the sly comments and of the way she was treated in their relationship and I hated it! I was desperate for Lydia to know her worth, to know she deserves nothing less than the very best. And I hoped that it didn’t take her long to see that all of that was right in front of her eyes! The pacing of everything was perfect and I loved how I always felt so involved in Lydia’s growth as a person. There’s nothing quite like seeing a character you love blossom, and Lydia was certainly a character I had high hopes for.

“She was beginning to develop very real feelings for her very fake boyfriend. Her very fake boyfriend who, as of that moment, still thought she was somebody else.”

The author certainly doesn’t follow a strict romance/rom com template in Lily Bennett’s Bucket List. The storyline is completely unexpected and the best kind of wild, and sometimes, I felt surprised by some scenes just as much as the characters themselves! All I’ll mention is that perfectly timed scene on the beach after that intense surfing lesson! This part of Lily’s bucket list was my absolute favourite, probably because of what happens afterwards, and my smile was huge! However, Lydia feels different somehow. And this feeling was strong. And I was HERE for it! But how had things changed for Jake? Had anything even changed at all? We join Lydia in feeling pretty uncertain, needing answers and advice to help get us through, but I felt like this was the strongest part of the book, the part where I thought of all the possibilities and all the memories that were yet to come. It was so nice thinking of Lydia’s future and just how much Jake would (or would not) be a part of it.

As Lydia becomes more aware of her feelings and of what her future looks like, she begins to think about one really important issue – telling Jake the truth about who she is. Because I felt so close to Lydia, this felt like a big thing for me too! This part of the book really delved deep into a mix of feelings and emotions, and I was blown away by how all this was communicated to the reader. Lydia and her daughter have a stand out relationship, one that’s close and full of love and friendship. It’s such a beautiful bond that is portrayed to perfection. And, out of absolutely nowhere, there is a scene where we see Lydia step up, becoming the fierce woman we all knew she could be, standing up for herself and believing in herself in the most crucial of moments. The development of all these characters from the start was excellent, and it was so nice to look back on Lydia’s character when we first met her, to how she thinks and acts at this point of the story. And there was still more to come!

The end

The slow burn of Lydia and Jake’s friendship to more-than-friendship was so satisfying, the chemistry between them written with such attention to detail. I loved how we see the exact point they trust each other fully, and I felt so happy that Jake felt comfortable enough with Lydia that he tells her things about his life he’s kept close to his chest for so long. After checking off two items on Lily’s bucket list in one go and having the absolute time of their lives, (in more ways than one) there was only the final item left. 9. Do the scariest thing you can think of. By this point, we all know what Lydia will choose for this one. And I felt equally terrified and excited by how it would all unravel. How would Jake react? Would it bring them ever closer or push them apart? This item on the list was certainly my most anticipated, and with how much I loved the rest of the book, I knew this final task would be just as brilliant as I’d hoped!

Just as I felt so elated about the directions things were going in, there was a huge bombshell. And then ANOTHER. And then there were so many things going on and thoughts going through my mind that I couldn’t cope! I loved how everything didn’t go as I thought though, (like I said, there’s no copy and paste romance template here!) but even so, I was gripped. I was reading through these pages in record time as I was just so desperate for things to be put right. For Lydia and Jake to have one big conversation about everything and to fix anything that could be broken. I tried to put myself in their shoes, to try and think about how I’d react to what I’d just read, but there was just so much to think about. After knowing Lydia through the book, I knew she’d put things right. And I knew Jake was still her soulmate deep down. The author keeps us so engaged in the story right until the very end!

“The woman she’d been pretending to be wasn’t Lily. It was just a less scared version of herself.”

Despite her heart aching for Jake, there was another issue that temporarily grabbed Lydia’s attention. And she was accompanied on this adventure by her daughter, Ollie, who was an absolute star and an excellent character all the way through. Ollie had found Lily Bennett. This was also a hugely exciting point for me too, and I loved that it appeared towards the end of the book! I loved how there was much more to the original Lily Bennett than we’d thought throughout the whole book, and I thought how everything came together was very clever indeed. Who knew I’d fall in love with yet another character so close to the ending?! Even though it was a late introduction, Lily’s character appeared at a crucial time for Lydia. It made her realise who she really is, what she can achieve and what she’s already achieved, with Jake’s help of course. And hopefully, their meeting would give her the confidence and the drive to do what is right (and also to right some wrongs!)

The ending of the book was filled with life lessons and emotions, and I absolutely loved every word. Relationships were fixed, slates were wiped clean, and there was such a euphoric feeling of freedom and love that gave me the warmest of feelings. Knowing how much Lydia and Jake had grown as people and how they’d put their pasts behind them was so satisfying, and thinking about their futures was just the kind of uplifting ending I was hoping for. The author succeeds in making you mull over life, thinking about what’s important and it even inspired me to make my own bucket list. In fact, she really does encourage you to grab life with two hands and make the most of it. I love a book that has such a profound impact on you, and this book is absolutely up there with my all time favourite rom coms. I found myself thinking about Lydia and Jake, my new favourite power couple long after finishing the book! What an amazing journey! ❤️

Overall thoughts

Lily Bennett’s Bucket List is a beautifully uplifting story of growth, the importance of taking chances and of course, injecting a little bit more fun into your life! The story has such a unique plot, one that grabbed me from the start and kept me pleasantly surprised at every turn. I loved Lydia, the main character, and her friend-but-definitely-not-love-interest, Jake. How their relationship grew and changed over a few short months was written so delicately, but in a way that had you rooting for both of them consistently all the way through. Their chemistry was *chef’s kiss*! The steps Lydia takes to be someone she’s not helps her to realise what’s really important in life after her world came crashing down, her journey helping her to blossom into someone inspiring, someone who makes the most of every day, and most importantly, someone who is happy. Charming, delightful and thought-provoking. Absolutely loved it!

You can grab your own copy of Lily Bennett’s Bucket List by Katherine Dyson over on Amazon right now, available in paperback, Audiobook and on Kindle. Make sure you’re following the author on Twitter and Instagram for book updates!

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