Saturday, February 28, 2015

With the Headmaster's Approval / Jan Hurst-Nicholson

Reviewed by: BigAl

Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Woman’s Fiction

Approximate word count: 60-65,000 words

Kindle  US: YES  UK: YES  Nook: NO  Smashwords: NO  Paper: NO
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store


A resident of South Africa, Jan Hurst-Nicholson is the author of several books in various genres aimed at readers of all ages, including children, young adults, and grown-ups. For more, visit Ms Hurst-Nicholson’s website.


Adam Wild creates controversy when he’s appointed as the Head of St Mary’s Academy, an all-girls school in England. The governing board feels that his background as a officer in the US Navy makes him well suited to restore some needed discipline, but some of the all-female teaching staff don’t see it this way.


I’m struggling to figure out how to articulate the problem I had with this book. So I’m going to start out with the good parts, and there are plenty of those. Adam Wild has been appointed as the head of an all-girls academy with a staff that is virtually all female, the lone exception an older Mr Fix-it type who takes care of building maintenance. Adam is a widower, but young enough to be seen as an attractive older man by the teen students and a potential romantic interest for any teachers who are unattached and looking. However, the school’s governing board has made it clear that romantic fraternizing with his staff isn’t allowed. Of course that means someone is bound to see that as a challenge. Adam’s struggle to hit the right tone with teachers and students, accomplish what the board has set as his goals, and work out what he wants his future to be, all make for an interesting and engaging story.

While there were a few minor instances of situations that didn’t ring true for me, the first two thirds of the book were mostly a fun, entertaining read. Although the book is not and is not intended to be a romance (despite Amazon including that as one of its classifications), the first two acts are set up exactly like a romance. Perhaps some of my struggles were subconscious expectations created by that pattern. Then the third act goes all to hell, at least if the reader is expecting the final third to play out like a romance.

First, another party is thrown into the mix. While this person is someone who has been mentioned a few times before now, how and what happens seems out of left field based on the story thus far. It feels like the reader has been set up, not unlike if a mystery book was to have the detective suddenly solve the puzzle by arresting someone we’d have no clue was even a viable suspect. Then, at the last second, that doesn’t work out the way it appears to be headed, and we’re thrown another twist, more in keeping with where the overall story seemed to be headed in some ways, very much not like that in others. Sometimes a story gets described as “like a roller coaster ride” and that is meant as a positive. For me, this was more like a roller coaster that jumped the tracks on the final turn.


Uses UK slang and spelling conventions.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues.

Rating: *** Three Stars


Jan Hurst-Nicholson said...

Thank you so much for taking the time to read and review my book. I wasn’t sure how male readers would react to the story, so it is gratifying that you found it engaging, fun and entertaining. I’m sorry the ending disappointed you. I’m always open to constructive criticism and I will return to the story and make some amendments that hint about the relationship earlier on so that the ending will feel less like it comes out of left field. The premise was lust shouts, love whispers – I guess I’ll have to up the whisper to a mutter. 

Jan Hurst-Nicholson said...

I've made some changes and the updated version is now available.
Thanks once again for the helpful review.

BooksAndPals said...

Thanks for the comments, Jan.