‘Old friends, new complications – will this be a season to remember?’ – The Love Department
[ About The Love Department ]
The countdown to Christmas is on at Shillington’s luxury department store in Dublin city …
Immy Brooks has just been put in charge of personal shopping and seems to have a gift for knowing exactly what people want. The one person whose mind she can’t read is her best friend (and soon-to-be boss), Lando Shillington. The night before he leaves for Paris, the two share a drunken night of passion – but Immy hasn’t seen or heard from him since …
Lando can’t get Immy out of his head but he is under pressure to save the family business and he’s in Paris to learn the ropes from the retail magnate, Charles de Croix. Radical changes are needed if Shillington’s is to return to its former glory. But Lando hadn’t banked on getting on quite so well with Charles’ daughter, the glamorous and eminently dateable Celine.
Christmas is in the air when Lando returns to Dublin with Celine and de Croix, both determined to give Shillington’s a Parisian makeover, but does their arrival spell the end for Immy and Lando, before they even get started?
[ My Review ]
The Love Department by Ally Bunbury published November 2nd with Hachette Ireland and is described as ‘a heart-warming page-turner set at a glamorous department store during the countdown to Christmas’.
Immy Brooks and Lando Shillington have been the best of friends since childhood, and each other’s confidante when times get tough. But, on the night before Lando was due to fly to Paris for business, they crossed a line from friendship to passion, leaving a very uncomfortable gap in their relationship.
Lando is due to take charge at Shillington’s department store in Dublin but he is a reluctant heir to the throne. His mother Delia has been running the show for years, following the premature death of her husband. He died tragically within a year of their marriage, leaving Delia to pick up the pieces, with a new baby and a store to run. Delia has been respectful to her husband’s plans but that was over twenty years ago now and the shop has a faded and jaded feel.
Lando feels very ill-equipped for his new role, so he travels to Paris to gain experience at Le Marché Cher, the highly successful and luxurious department store, owned by his father’s old friend, Charles de Croix. De Croix is a stickler for perfection demanding a very high quality of service from all his staff. Le Marché Cher has a reputation for opulence and extravagance, where every single wish of a customer is granted. Lando sees the success that de Croix has made of his business and feels very inadequate in himself. Coming to Paris he hopes to learn from the master and develop his interpersonal skills and his confidence in driving business forward at Shillington’s, in order to secure a future for himself, his mother and all of their employees.
While in Paris he is aware that his interactions with Immy are few and very strained. He knows that they are in new territory and that their friendship has changed but has no clue how to fix it. De Croix’s daughter Celine is of a similar age to Lando and has learned the ropes from her Dad. She is a stunning young woman with that wonderful French je ne sais quoi in her style and ability to make things work. Celine and Lando are a beautiful couple and to anyone looking in from the outside they appear to be a perfect pairing. Could this be a marriage made in heaven? Could their relationship bring Lando all that he wants and more?
When de Croix decides to come back to Dublin to help Lando, Celine travels with them. De Croix’s plan is to help Lando and Delia transform Shillington’s and restore its reputation as a place where the desire of the customer is paramount, a place where the customer is treated with a service that can’t be found anywhere else in Dublin and beyond.
Immy is unsure of her place in this new arrangement as she has always suffered from imposter syndrome when surrounded by such wealth but life has an extraordinary way of leading us down unexplored and unexpected paths. Will Immy find her future at Shiilington’s? Can her friendship with Lando survive the Parisian influence?
The Love Department is a fun & festive read, pure escapism from the world that most of us inhabit. The world of the Shillington and de Croix families is extravagant and ostentatious. Bar Immy, all the characters are living life on a completely different level than most of us. But with all the money in the world, the basic issues of love, friendship, parenting, grief and loss, still have to be dealt with and experienced. The Love Department is an entertaining read, one that will appeal to all looking to immerse themselves into a light-hearted and feel-good tale.
[ Bio ]
Ally Bunbury is a bestselling novelist, based in Ireland. Inspired by the TV sitcom Absolutely Fabulous, she embarked upon a PR career in New York, London and Dublin. During a personal sabbatical in Paris, Ally wrote the draft of her first novel, The Inheritance. A frequent contributor to The Irish Times, Ally lives with her husband, historian Turtle Bunbury in the countryside.