By Sandy Osborne
From the moment she takes her first step inside the police station in her brand new Dr Marten boots, PC Sally Gentle’s roller-coaster ride in this male-dominated environment begins. Girl Cop follows Sally’s tentative start in an eye-opening career which offers her some extraordinary experiences, ranging from fascinating, hilarious and emotive to the downright incredible.
Will the spark between Sally and her tutor constable Alex ever be ignited?
Will summary justice be served on the station bully?
Will Sally complete the Bennett’s Lane Challenge to become “an honorary bloke”?
I bought the ebook version of this after I had seen it mentioned on a tweet and because it is set in Bath, a city I know well.
This is a light read that will appeal to readers of typical modern romance, although it steps outside the “typical” chick-lit storyline (in a positive way). It does touch on some weighty subjects: a woman working in a male-dominated profession (although the author doesn’t help by referring to the young women police constables as “girls”, and Sally as an “honorary bloke”) and coping with bullying at work, rape and social isolation – but briefly and in a sensitive and not heavy-handed way. It gives a peek into the work of the police force and of the world of a city cop (but, remember, this is Bath, not LA), interspersed with the lighter moments and camaraderie within the team … and the inevitable romance.
The leading lady, Sally Gentle, is written quite well. She is shown as a sensitive, energetic and typical young woman, who joins the police force looking for excitement, only to be the butt of rookie jokes, sexism and jealousy. But she loves her job and won’t give in, although she spends a lot of the book in tears for one reason or another. It is not all about Sally’s work - she has a family and a boyfriend (but curiously no close friends). Sally’s Uncle Jack is written well.
The story is set in Bath in the early 1990s, and that appealed to me because I lived there in the early 1990s. There is a little too much name dropping of streets and businesses – slightly irritating if you are familiar with the city and, I would imagine, quite annoying if you are not. Perhaps a sketch map of Bath in the front of the book would be helpful for readers.
The writing is most definitely that of a first-time novelist. There is some clunky sentence structure and too much explanation of characters and their backgrounds rather than letting the reader find out about them through the story and dialogue. I found it particularly confusing that on Sally’s first group patrol we were being told about her future relationships with some of the people – if we are in a scene set in the present, we should stay in the present. The book is told in third-person from Sally’s point of view, but every now and again the text tells you something that Sally couldn’t know, which leapt out and confused me. The writing and the story-telling gets much better from about a third of the way in. The ending is satisfying and doesn’t leave you hanging while waiting for the sequel.
I would recommend this as a light, romantic read, but be prepared to have to work a bit to stay on track. I will buy the sequel (this is going to be a trilogy, I believe) as I suspect the author will have got more into her stride and be more comfortable with writing by the second book.
I hope it does well. I would be happy to suggest this book to someone looking for a slightly different romance story, but probably not to anyone who normally likes police procedural books or is looking for an in-depth view of the workings of a British police force.
Editorial Input & Design
There has obviously been some editing and proofreading, but not enough. Or maybe the author tinkered with the story after that had been done. Either way, I would suggest more editorial guidance. Some of the writing is clunky and a bit stilted and there is too much lengthy description for a “book set firmly in the romantic comedy genre” (the author’s own description). A developmental edit would have ironed out the present/future scenes, made the story lines flow better and cut down on the description; a copy edit would have sorted out the misused/repeated/extraneous words, and a proofread would have changed, where necessary, full stops to commas, commas to question marks and generally tidied it up a bit. It is not in any way unreadable, but it would certainly benefit from another edit.
Cover A lovely, effective and professionally designed cover. There’s no mistaking who the target audience is.
Internal design I read this on a Kindle; the text flows well and I had no problems.
Book Clubs & Reviews
I would say this is a bit light for a book club. A Bath-based club might like it because of the geographical references. Discussion could revolve around the city, women working in a male-dominated environment, bullying in the workplace, social issues and, of course, romance. Food could have an Italian theme (you’ll know why when you read the book).
What others are saying: I am in a minority with my quibbles. Amazon UK readers give it 4.7 stars (43 reviewers); Amazon US readers give it five stars (2 reviewers); Goodreads readers give it 4.07 stars (14 ratings).
Buy & Author
(Sandy Osborne is donating part of her profits from the sales of this book to the Police Dependants’ Trust and St Peter’s Hospice.)
hive.co.uk (paperback £9.99; ePub £3.49)
Amazon (Kindle £4.19/$6.52; paperback £9.99/$14.40)
smashwords.com (epub $4.50) https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/317941
Follow the author:
Website www.sandyosborne.com (recommended for readers)
Goodreads (not very active)
Book blogger Fiona www.fionapearse.blogspot.co.uk Interview with the author
estellewilkinson.com Guest blog spot by the author giving background to writing the book and its launch