Top critical review
2 people found this helpful
on 22 August 2011
So, what I've noticed about Jill Mansell after reading several of her books is that she becomes quite predictable after the first two books - as is the case with all romance writers. Her storylines and characters are more or less the same (with different names and titles). There's always the cheating bastard, and the flimsy (usually also cheating) best friend, with a splash of flamboyancy, and an obnoxious, hard to crack hero, and the sweet, insecure heroine. Add to that a few extras - these may take the shape of a dog, or a daughter, or a sister, or a porter, or a father-in-law - and you get yourself a Mansell.
This specific book reminded me so much of "To the Moon and Back". Surprisingly, and although this was written before, I enjoyed "To the Moon and Back" a lot more than this. That could be because it was actually the first book I ever read for her, and so nothing about it seemed predictable, and I found it hilarious, sweet and witty. But let's lay out the similarities shall we?
We have the: dead husband (albeit one a jerk, and the other a nice guy), a year gap after his death, and heroine still can't seem to let anyone in, enter dark brooding hero, flimsy best friend who has an affair with a married man, an elderly romance involving father (or father-in-law), and the male companion who the heroine goes out with because they seem to get along, only for it to not be right, and have him fall for the above mentioned flimsy best friend.
All of that being said, I did enjoy the book. I just did not enjoy it as much, because it was like reading the same book twice with slight amendments and a change of scenery. Also, I may be wrong, but I feel like Mansell doesn't really know how to create "I love you" moments. She has a habit of dumping all the "I love yous" in the last few chapters in a rushed manner, making them seem almost insincere.
To be fair though, this book was about having a good laugh, and enjoying a light read about a bunch of odd characters. I also think Mansell intentionally tries to be shocking and bizarre in her characterisation and order of events. I mean, I could sit here and say, I don't like Tara, I hate people who cheat, I cannot believe her spinster-ly aunt prostituted herself to the man she loves (who does that?!) Hector was a jerk for offering Maggie money, Dominic was such an ass, and Tara was a twenty-seven year old idiot for not seeing it and being so immature, etc.etc. But what would I gain out of doing that? This book is exactly about all those series of unfortunate events!
And for that, I think Mansell managed to pull it off. I had a few good laughs, I liked Daisy's character, and I enjoyed the overall storyline.