The first time Toby Hunter got arrested for defending Lilac Clarke’s honour, he was only fifteen years old, but he’d loved her from behind his black-rimmed glasses for as long as he could remember.With a desperate need to protect her from a distance, one arrest turned to two, two soon turning into three, and before Toby knew what was happening, the sleepy village of Southwold was turning against him for daring to stand up for a girl like Lilac.

Beautiful Lilac with her flowers in her hair, her camera in her hands, and her sweet, pink, sugary-lipped kisses.

They could hate him for loving her all they wanted. Toby was a boy who did what was right, not what was easy, and he was always going to grow to be the man willing to give her what she deserved.

Even if that meant losing Lilac forever.


Thank you to Michelle Chen for recommending this book and for agreeing to buddy read it with me!


4,5 “protector” stars

I had never read any book by Victoria L James before. But when Michelle recommended this one to me I was intrigued. One peek at the blurb and one look at the gorgeous cover and I was frantically ordering the paperback!

What can I say pretty covers just lure me out every single time.


When I opened the book to buddy read with Michelle, it was on a scene with a young Lilac holding her first camera thanks to her aunt Coral. She must have been around seven and when she worried she could break it her aunt gave her this wonderful advice: “Less worrying, more living.”.

It sets the tone of Lilac’s childhood where:

“Everything my family did and said was pure ice cream flavoured love with hundreds of sprinkles on top to make every occasion even better than it really was.”

I loved reading these lines. There was a quiet poetry reading this with sunny Lilac, wearing bright colors and ginger hair.

No wonder she fascinated shy Toby her neighbor.

For as much as Lilac’s family was vibrant and joyful, you could feel Toby’s family shrouded in shadows and sadness. Lilac was Toby’s light.


When they officially meet at school it went like this:

“Lilac Clarke” she whispered from the corner of her mouth.

“Toby Hunter.”

“Are you?” she whispered.

“Am I what?”

“A hunter?”  Lilac’s eyes went wide, and her lips parted as she stared at me in wonder.



“Have you ever tried to be?”

I shook my head.

“Why not?” she scowled.

“What would I hunt?”



Bam! I was sold to the book. Sweetness wrapped up in a cute little red bow.

Why? Well if you needed yet another reason than the poetic writing I would say that this book is about one of my favorite tropes: childhood sweethearts.

Shy little Toby, seven years, hiding behind his glasses is mesmerized by bouncy, pretty and dreamy Lilac.

These first lines and first chapters with Toby being hypnotized by the cute little girl are one of the sweetest lines I’ve ever read. I was all swooning and doe eyes. Young innocent love blossoming under my watch.


Toby will observe Lilac.

Always. From a distance for many years. They will talk from time to time and the connection between these two was already undeniable.

He will vow to protect her. Keep her light intact. She is too brilliant to be snuffed out.

He was a teenager the first time he had to come into action. Saving her from something that could have turned nasty. Being arrested for . And going to the police station willingly. He would do it again, in a heartbeat. Because it’s Lilac.

Countless times Toby will defend Lilac, lay his life and body for Lilac’s safety.

This is the third reason why I loved this book so much: I melt like a puddle of goo for protective heroes. Toby is not an alpha in every day life but for Lilac he becomes a knight in shining armor.

His dedication, his love was admirable and deeply touching.

“Why do you care so much?” “A young girl told me once to hunt for magic. I guess I found it in her. Now I’d do anything to protect it.”

Of course if Toby has to protect Lilac you must have villains she needs protecting from.

Mrs James portrayed “classic” villains: the son of the police chief, full of himself and determined to have Lilac or make her pay. An unexpected friend turned villain and I won’t give any spoiler just that when he made his move I was really mad at him! I was all “traitor”! “Coward!” …

The small town will take sides and be fooled who the good guy is.

But Lilac will never let Toby down. Even when he’ll try to protect her from himself, to set her free because he loves her so much she’ll never waver. And that’s another thing I deeply loved about this book because I can’t stand “high angst” books with people tearing each other, denying what they really want, with back and forth etc. Thank God Mrs James spared me here.


To sum it up I loved:

-the childhood sweetheart trope;

-the poetic and effortlessly flowing writing;

-the drama but not overtly high angst;

-the family stories and secrets this small town hid;

-the love story;

And ….

I can’t resist to conclude this review with a confession.

This is how I pictured Toby all along!

As a young teenager:


And as a young man


And when he protected Lilac

Sorry but even Amy Adams playing Lois Lane in Henry Calvill’s arms is a redhead!


I don’t know if Mrs James planned all this but I read clues about my favorite superhero in the whole book!!!!

Let me explain my reasoning…

  1. Toby has blue, blue eyes, dark hair and dark rimmed glasses (like Superman).
  2. His first name Toby made me think of Tobey Maguire (and yes I know he played Spiderman and not Superman but he was a super hero!)
  3. Lilac’s name is Clarke (as in Clark Kent, Superman alias)
  4. Toby’s father is named Wayne (it reminded me of Bruce Wayne from Batman)
  5. Toby was a level headed and cool guy except when someone threatened his precious Lilac. He became all Hulk on the villain. She was his kryptonite.
  6. As stated above Lilac was a ginger like Amy Adams who played Lois Lane.


Now do you get all the “super heroes” references?

No? Oh well that’s me then.


Recommend this book? Oh yes!


Have you read books by Victoria L James?

Thanks for reading!


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