Series Spotlight ~ Unfinished Business Series: Book 1, The Making of Jonty Bloom by Barbara Elsborg (Guest Post)

The Making of Jonty Bloom (Book 1)

by Barbara Elsborg

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Finding his fiancé in bed with his brother was bad enough, finding out they’re getting married is the final blow.

Devan Smith needs to cool his anger. He needs to forget the lies and betrayals and work on resetting his life. When his boss orders him to scope out a remote hotel for a possible buyout, Devan’s only interested in getting the job done and getting out. What he’s not interested in is the guy with the piercings, bleached hair, and the smart, kissable mouth behind the reception desk.

Working the hotel reception is the only thing that’s stable in Jonty Bloom’s unstable life. His best friend has had a terrible accident, his ex refuses to move on, and his eight-year-old self is still waiting for his mother to collect him from school. Jonty needs his job. What he doesn’t need is the rude, arrogant, and hot as they come guy who’s rocked up demanding he be let into his room right now.

Thrown together by a freak accident, Devan and Jonty’s lives entwine, and neither wants to loosen the knot. Can the irrepressible Jonty be the reset Devan needs? Can Devan be the making of Jonty Bloom, or will secrets drive them apart?

First in the Unfinished Business series. All books are standalones.


by Barbara Elsborg


Those who know my writing will be aware that I usually write unconnected standalone novels. That’s not to say I’ve never written a series, I have few times, but generally, I don’t. Even though the Unfinished Business books are connected under the series umbrella, they each have different main characters, with familiar faces making occasional appearances.

The Making of Jonty Bloom was intended to be a standalone story, but then I realised I needed another book to give Tay, Jonty’s best friend, his happy ever after. A Long Way Back shows Tay recovering from his fall, helped by Ink. But as I wrote Jonty’s Christmas, I fell for smart-mouthed Cato, Devan’s brother, and had to write a book about him as well—Reinventing Cato. Only to finally accept that if I didn’t explain what had gone on in Ru’s life, Ink’s brother, I’d never feel the series was complete. Hence Waiting for Ru.

Phew. I’m still asked if I’m going to write more in the Unfinished Business series. There are characters who could have their own book, but that series is done, apart from little spin-offs – Jonty’s Christmas, Jonty in Russia and Jonty’s Halloween and there are a few shorts on my website for newsletter subscribers. I could write about Jonty forever and many people would like me to! There will be more!

I guess the star of this series is obvious. Jonty Bloom. The most popular character I have ever created. Set against Devan, Mr Grump. A trope I like. Jonty has plenty of reasons to be bitter and twisted, but he’s not. He’s sweet and funny, and when he’s knocked down, he always gets up. He might have a motor-mouth, but there’s something inherently loveable about him and his passion for Flakes and sea glass and Devan. But much as readers like him, he also gave me a huge problem. How could I possibly follow that successful first book? I didn’t want to create a line of Jonty lookalikes. Any similar character would have been compared to Jonty. But how to make books humorous without a Jonty-like guy? Impossible and in any case, the stories write themselves in my head, and no book could be like that first. Cato might be Jonty’s terrible ‘twin’ but there can only be one Jonty Bloom. So the other books were always going to struggle in comparison, in some ways. Don’t ask me which is my favourite book because I might not say Jonty’s!

Jonty came into readers’ lives in the middle of this pandemic. A character who was breath of fresh air, scenery we couldn’t go and visit, but Flakes we could eat! I should have told Cadbury’s how much trade the book brought them. I knew the setting for The Making of Jonty Bloom before I even came up with the story. I’ve used it in other books. I love Northumberland. I first went there on a geography field trip when I was 17. Swam in the freezing sea in October, walked on the incredible beach at Bamburgh, saw all the things I talk about in the story, apart from The Dunes Hotel. I made that up. I’ve been back a few more times to visit the county, and it never disappoints. Though the weather has at times. It can be very cold. No, not Canadian cold, but still…

So the series is over. I told myself not to get drawn into writing another, but to go for some standalone stories – and I fell at the first hurdle. I’ve already written two books in the next series. Lost and Found will consist of four paranormal stories. Two out before the end of the year. I’m writing the third.

What has writing the Unfinished Business series meant to me? It has brought me new readers, more reviews than I’ve ever had for any other books, so many messages from readers about how much they love Jonty, and all that has given me great happiness.


~ * ~ Kathys Review ~ * ~

5 Giant Stars

I have had so many recommendations to read this book, I now understand why. This story is profoundly satisfying; it’s about a young man named Jonty who has such a strong and positive outlook, despite his past cruelty. His present life hasn’t been kind to him either. A psychotic ex that has hurt him in numerous ways is a genuine danger. His heartbreaking and special connection to his best friend Tay adds to the tons of baggage this extraordinary man has to carry every day. If Jonty wasn’t making me laugh, I was crying over the many injustices he has suffered. Jonty handles his problems so much better than I ever could, and he just never gives up.

He works a multitude of jobs at a resort that has seen better days. This job is where he checks in one of the most annoying and difficult clients he has seen in a while. This client happens to go by the name of Devan. While his baggage might not be piled as high as Jonty’s, he too has suffered many hurts and burdens that he tries to keep to himself.

Devan’s life is in turmoil. We learned very early in the book that he walked in on his brother in bed with his fiance the night before their wedding. So naturally, his ex-fiance and brother think Devan being the best man for their wedding would be a super cool idea! Okay, so I will give Devan a free pass for all of his recent grumpiness. A harrowing experience makes the men start to talk and understand why they behave as they do.

Devan and Jonty are possibly the best couple I have read about in a while. Devan needs someone to bring light and laughter back to his soul, and Jonty needs someone to be there for him, all the way. There are many challenges that the two must face. Both have dangerous ex-lovers; however, Jonty’s prior boyfriend made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Another obstacle is that Devan’s job will affect Jonty’s future. Devan needs to figure out what is important and gather enough inner strength to believe in someone again. Jonty has to take the leap and have faith he won’t be left behind once more.

Trust me when I say how much this book left an imprint in my heart. I hope you enjoy reading this story as much as I did, and I can’t recommend it enough. Happy reading!

***Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie for my reading pleasure. A review wasn’t a requirement ***


~ * ~ Priscillas Review ~ * ~

4.5 Stars

What an emotional ride this story turned out to be. I’d heard a lot about this book and had it on my TBR list for quite a while before having a chance to read it. I’m so glad I read it.

You couldn’t ask for two more opposite characters in Jonty and Devan. Jonty is emotionally lost, has had an unfortunate upbringing, and life is still not getting any easier in his early adult life. And then there’s Devan, who’s successful, wealthy, pissed off, and completely broken-hearted. When they collide, the bantering and fun begin. From head-to-toe, Devan and Jonty are night and day. Devan is polished and educated. Jonty will give you whiplash in 20 seconds, and I loved every second of it.

This is one of those books where you could feel what the characters are feeling: the hurt, fear, anger, and even the cold in some parts. You get so lost in it you feel like you’re right there with them. It was low-angst for the most part. I wouldn’t say it was something that I was biting my fingernails over. But there were some parts where I needed to put it down and absorb part of it and let it sink in as well. That is a pretty powerful thing when an author can do that.

There are some tough subjects the author touches in this story. She’s sensitive to it, but she’s also realistic with her descriptions, I think. If domestic violence is hard for you to read about, I would recommend noting this. She doesn’t describe any of the actual violence that I can remember off the top of my head, but she does describe injuries. So please be cautious of this.

To wrap this up, it’s a fantastic book that puts many things in an overall low-angst story. There were so many topics and issues wrapped into one story so beautifully that I was literally in awe and touched at the same time. I’m really looking forward to this next book.

*** Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie for my reading pleasure. A review wasn’t a requirement. ***