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Strings Attached Paperback – 8 Oct 2011
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A tip for anyone reading this... you will need snacks to get through this novel! There is so much yummy food referenced in this story as she runs a catering company your tummy will grumble. I gained a pound a chapter just reading about all the yumminess. I consumed two pork pies, three lagers, two ice creams, two ice lollies, strawberries, two peaches, some nuts, half a packet of party ring biscuits and shit loads of tea over the course of reading this book in two days. Mandy Baggot, you owe me a new waist line!
That being said, Mandy wrote a lovely 'flawed' character. I loved that she was a 30 plus who was still single and everyone assumed she hadn't seen a willy in a decade because she hadn't announced it on Facebook or been caught with a half naked man in her kitchen about to do the walk of shame on a Sunday morning. Having a 34 year old, single, not married, no kids, protagonist was like looking in a mirror. It's the age old saying 'You don't want to be left on the shelf', people start to assume there had to be something wrong with her. It's that stage in a womans life where people decide she needs help with her non existent love life (assumption) and all turn into cupids, shooting the shit out of any single person they can find willing to take her on a date. People start threatening to call Cilla Black out of retirement, stage an intervention. They will not let her become a spinster... get her on plentyoffish.com there is bound to be plenty of desperate men on there she can pick from. Ok it like the 'Raggy Doll Reject Bin' but its better than being single.
They don't go to those extremes in this novel but she is still under pressure to not 'look so lonely' or 'single' as it makes other feel uncomfortable. They want her to hook up to ease their discomfort. There are the undertones in this novel of the belief that being single, running your own business is fine if you have a penis but a ladies garden.... no way! So she paves the way to show that is not true. She is happy with her lot in life, she is single, runs her own business and everyone else can mind theirs. Again I can relate.
Part way through this novel I decided that George and Quinn would also work well as a story where the characters were both male and Gay. I had a little chuckle to myself over another party ring and swig of tea.
The memories of how much I loved Metallica and Aerosmith came flooding back with the references to Georges youth and I dusted off my collection too. 'Nothing else matters' was definitely the theme tune to this book.
Reading the all too British conversations where the dialogue flowed easily was like listening to the banter in my own house. The wonderful Marisa character was the embodiment of my nieces who seem to permanently dwell in my house even though my sister was the one who had the joy of making them. She neglects to use her 'mouth filter', drools over celebs, shoes, clothes and everything else teen. Marisa was a lovely addition to the story and lightened some of the dark moment like a rainbow on a really shitty day.
There I was all cosy, giggling at the wit and stuffing my face with food that should be banned and BAM!!! The character makes a choice that would make any soap opera star proud. I was mortified, I had thought better of her, she should be ashamed of herself, said my moral compass. On the other hand the romance reader thought good on her as Quinn is a hot rock star who plays the violin, guitar and piano and I would bet his strumming and fingering technique is enough to make any woman forget her morals.
I sussed out what the twists were pretty early on as I am part Agatha Christie when reading. That just made me even more keen to prove my inner Agatha right. She wasn't disappointed. Every time you think George will make the 'right' choice, and get herself back to rational behaviour, she is led by her knickers into a every growing melting pot. You find yourself really disappointed in her but still feel sorry for her. You know he is being a mega bastard and feeding her lines he probably stole from one of his songs, but you still would shag him too given half the chance and regret it later... or would you?
He is a total dick, and there is no way I would behave like her or fall for his patter. That is the joy of reading. She can make the mistakes, I can cringe and take the moral high ground. However, in retrospect there were moments in this story where I was like 'fuck it, just do it.' Yup I wavered, and had a real life version of Quinn been in front of me at the time I would be singing to his tune too. Sexy Bastard!
All in all, you are not going to get the standard, two people meet, kiss, fall in love, get over a little bump in the road, get married, have babies and live happily ever after in this novel. It is going to turn you into a cross between a mate listening to her friend whose got themselves in a stupid situation, blinded by love and feels sorry for her as it is so out of character. To the other sort of friend who knows she's is doing wrong, doesn't approve but still gets ready to be there when the elephant shit hits the fan, as that is what mates do.
Why four stars: I wanted the end to be embellished. There was the twists, the juicy bit I'd been waiting on, it was all going to kick off... and then it was over. I am nosey reader, I want to be there for the gossip. I felt like I was missing out and there was a scene cut. Like when you rush off before the end of a movie to have a wee as you can't hold it a second longer without ending up in A&E with a ruptured bladder. You rush back thinking you have ten minutes left but the titles are going go up. I can't tell you exactly what it was without it being a spoiler but I want to know what happened. I want to be there for the aftermath! I've earned the right! I demand that a scene be inserted where all that is included.
It's a great read and one that will have you and your mates slagging her off one minute and slightly envious of her the next. Mandy has wrote a story where the character makes taboo decision for a romance novel. Most of them rash, spur of the moment choices where the character knows she is naughty and shouldn't be doing it. It like the minute the sexy bugger is near her, she loses all perspective. Her angel side takes a swan dive off her shoulder like a lemming, whilst the devil side applauds her ability to dust off her fellatio skills so quickly. I loved it. I high fived Mandy several times for having the balls to write certain scenes.
I would, and have recommended this story to several people and I have another of Mandy's novels to read which I am looking forward to. Well done Mandy.
When her company `Finger Foods' is given the job of catering for Rock Star Quinn Blake's after show party. George knows this will be the most important event that she has ever catered for. She wants to do a good job and be at her best if people like the food she would get more work from people recommending her and recommendations are the best way to bring in new business and George's company is everything to her.
Things do not go the way George plans when she meets the gorgeous Quinn and he goes to great lengths to get to know her. Quinn is engaged to his record company bosses daughter Taylor Ferraro who is a beautiful actress. Quinn is living the rock star life; he has it all money, a beautiful fiancée, people at his beck and call. He is a star who could have any beautiful glamorous woman he wanted. He could not possibly be attracted to an ordinary jean loving, tom boy of a girl like George could he?
This is an engaging love story from Mandy Baggot that is a lively and witty read. About two unlikely people who are worlds apart been drawn to each other. I really enjoyed reading this book. The plot twist towards the end brings the story to the perfect conclusion. Mandy Baggot has created an impeccable love story.
When she is asked to cater for a rock-star's aftershow party, George's business is catapulted from merely successful to positively flourishing, although George is somewhat disconcerted by her attraction to the rock-star, Quinn Blake, who seems equally smitten with her. Their relationship is complicated by the fact that Quinn is engaged to be married, and despite his feelings for George seems determined to go through with it.
Mandy Baggott's engaging characters, and the twists and turns in the story, make for a very satisfying read. You can't help but care about these people who, by the end of the book, feel like your friends.
George is irresistibly drawn to the charismatic star as he is to her. However, despite this the wedding machine trundles on and George finds herself in the difficult position of being in charge of the catering for the big day which is taking place in Spain.
She should let go but she can't and neither can he, although he refuses to cancel the wedding. A collision course is inevitable and when it does happen there are huge fireworks and a surprising outcome. As with all Mandy's novels, the fun and laughter is mingled with sadness and more down to earth issues, which makes for a really good read and in my view, worth all five of the stars I have given it.