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Book Review, Forbidden, Friends to Lovers, Historical, Romance, Unrequited Love

The Gentleman of Holly Street by Lotte R. James

The Gentleman of Holly Street


Will this Christmas…

Change their lives again?

When self-made gentleman Freddie Walton rescued penniless Philomena Nichols at Christmas eight years ago, he never imagined that he would build his empire with her. Yet whilst they have created a life together as friends, Freddie can’t let their special connection become more than that. Not when his dangerous past continues to haunt him… But what happens when Freddie’s feelings for Philomena also refuse to stay hidden?


This is my first Lotte James novel and it captured the essence of unrequited love between a successful merchant and a penniless young woman.

Freddie is a self-made man who travels far and frequently to purchase goods for his shop in London, leaving the very capable Mena to run the shop during his absence. It’s when he suddenly realizes that he is in love with his friend and shop assistant of 8 years, that he needs to let her go. What he did in the past makes him undeserving of her and his dangerous past has come back to haunt him. He will not put her in harm’s way.

Mena is a bright and kind young woman who is building her own future to prove herself to Freddie. She has loved him for years. Though she has become a keen businesswoman in her own right, she feels she will be nothing more than the homeless woman he rescued years ago. Besides everyone knows he is meant for another. How can she tell him she must go?

Both Freddie and Philomena “Mena” come from sad and unpleasant pasts that cause a lot of their own self-doubts and insecurities that seem to convolute the romance between them. Both seem to think they are unworthy of each other because of their pasts so there is a lot of pushing away as they fight for their love for each other. Needless to say, they do give in to their passion, but at what cost?  I understand Freddie doesn’t have a clue what love means, but seriously? Why lead this lovely woman along when he knows he will be pushing her away? Yes, there is danger in his past that he wants to keep away from Mena and I applauded him for finally filling her in on his past, but he was only a boy then and made up for it by being the moral and kind man he is at present. Mena has a phobia about going far away from home, but her strength shines through as she follows her dream and builds the Nichols House on her own terms for those in need. However, it is her shame of knowing partly why she built it to prove to Freddie she could also build incredible things as he did and have a chance as his equal. Unfortunately, Freddie’s reaction was to feel betrayed by keeping her project from him. It’s frustrating to see characters continue to deny their love and when everything comes to a head in a suspense-filled climax, I honestly thought Freddie needed to grovel for Mena’s forgiveness. 

Supporting characters such as Mena’s friend and co-worker, Susan, and Freddie’s friend Mary are important confidantes who end up helping the star-crossed lovers when they need it most. I’m hoping to read more about Mary and Luca in a future book.

Though the story was a bit too slow-moving for me, I found Mena’s business endeavors to be refreshing for the timeframe. It’s an unconventional and engaging story.

Thank you to Ms. James for giving me the opportunity to read this book with no expectation of a positive review.


The Gentleman of Holly Street Cover

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Lotte JamesLotte James trained as an actor and theatre director, but spent most of her life working day jobs crunching numbers whilst dreaming up stories of love and adventure. She’s thrilled to finally be writing those stories, and when she’s not scribbling on tiny pieces of paper, she can usually be found wandering the countryside for inspiration, or nestling with coffee and a book.

Follow Lotte on her website and Twitter.


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