I loved the three books published so far in Lindsay Kelk's `I Heart...' series, and was really looking forward to see how she would handle a different world and a new set of characters. And apart from one slightly indulgent interlude when an I Heart character makes a brief cameo, the answer is just fine. I instantly warmed to Our New Heroine, Rachel Summers, who thought that her life was on track before she is unceremoniously dumped by her long-term boyfriend, and utilises her favourite pastime - making to-do lists - to get over him, with the help of best friends Emilie and Matthew.
At first, I found this book a little hard to get into, compared to Angela's adventures, and I think that's probably because the setup is fully explained on the back cover, but the first few chapters spend quite a while, well, setting it up. In some ways this was a good thing - for example, we're given a solid picture of Rachel and Simon's relationship, and why it wasn't working - but it meant that the pace wasn't as fast as it might have been. However, once Rachel starts working her way down the list, starting with the traditional makeover but moving onto less-traditional chick lit tropes, such as bungee jumping and breaking the law, the story springs into life. A section set in Canada near the end of the novel proved to me that Kelk is at her best when there's a travel-writing element involved, as in the I Heart books - this was one of my favourite episodes. Without spoiling the ending, I also liked the way Kelk managed to keep a number of likely candidates in play for the role of Rachel's eventual love interest - although I thought it was reasonably obvious she was going to end up with the man she eventually chooses, there were definitely some wild cards thrown into the mix.
Overall, I think this is written in a slightly different mould to the I Heart series - although the plot is still fairly slight (not a bad thing in my opinion) it's more similar to the `typical' chick lit novel in that there's less time spent simply describing locations and shopping (I like the character-focused nature of the original series, but I can see that others might prefer a stronger plot). Hence, I'd recommend it even if you weren't a fan of Kelk's other three books, and it's fun to see her write about someone other than Angela. Personally, although I definitely enjoyed this stand-alone, I still can't wait for `I Heart Vegas'!