Lucy Arigho’s first encounter with Greg Millar is far from promising, but she soon realises he possesses a charm that is impossible to resist. Just eight whirlwind weeks after their first meeting, level-headed career girl Lucy is seriously considering his pleas to marry him and asking herself if she could really be stepmother material.
But before Lucy can make a final decision about becoming part of Greg’s world, events plunge her right into it. On holiday in the South of France, things start to unravel. Her future stepchildren won’t accept her, the interfering nanny resents her, and they’re stuck in a heat wave that won’t let up. And then there’s Greg. His behaviour becomes increasingly bizarre and Lucy begins to wonder whether his larger-than-life personality hides something darker—and whether she knows him at all.
I am not completely sure what I expected from The Accidental Life of Greg Miller, having added it to my TBR many months ago and not really remembering much of the reviews I’d read that had me doing that. Reading the description, I knew this was outside of my regular reading, and possibly comfort zone, and that it was a relationship book but references to a personality that hides something darker made me think maybe there was a thriller in here as well.
Long story short(ish), there wasn’t, though it wasn’t a boring read in any way. At it’s heart this is a love story, not my usual read at all. That said, I still found myself enjoying it because I really liked the characters and quickly fell into their story. I thought they were well rounded with plenty of quirks to make them real and Lucy’s reactions to Greg’s behaviour as the book progresses felt genuine.
The way they met was right out of a rom-com and it’s hard not to be as charmed as Lucy by Greg’s love of life and spontaneity. Given Lucy’s past you want her to find happiness and you believe she has in Greg. It’s also hard not to feel as thrown as she is when confronted with what are huge changes in Greg’s behaviour, changes which put her and his children’s lives at risk.
Whilst I don’t like spoilers, I am going to give things away next so please skip to the last paragraph if you don’t want to find out more.
I blame the type of books I normally read for making me think that Greg’s behaviour, when it changed, would come from a bad place. That’s what Lucy thought too. She was convinced it was drugs. I wasn’t so sure but I did think he was hiding something. He wasn’t though. He actually wasn’t aware of what he was doing because he was in the middle of a manic episode and suffering from bi-polar disorder. The reason I decided to share this is because, for me, it was one of the things that made the book stand out.
I work in the mental health sector and mental ill health is often called the hidden disease because you can’t see it, just witness the behaviours. As a result, a lot of people don’t understand what is happening to them, friends or family members who are ill. They will see other causes (like drugs) when there are none or think people can “snap out of it”, which they can’t. To be suffering from a mental illness is scary for the person who is ill but also those around them.
Here, Greg’s mental illness was a huge part of the story, the main part really as without it and Lucy / his family’s reaction there would be no drama at all, but I thought it was handled really well. It showed the impact mental illness has on everyone, including Greg’s children, who don’t really understand and who have to grow up a lot more quickly than they might otherwise (even though the adults try to protect them). For Lucy, there are stages to her acceptance and you see how she struggles to decide if she can handle their future when there is a risk of relapse. Nothing here felt sensationalised and it wasn’t glossed over. It takes a talented writer to do that well and I tip my hat to Aimee Alexander for doing just that.
Spoiler’s are over – feel free to read on…
Which leaves me just to say what I felt about this book. And I have to say I liked it a lot. Not may usual read but a very good one I can definitely recommend.
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Publication Date: 26th April, 2016
Genre: Romance, General Fiction