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Talk to Me (2014)

Just when Olivia thinks it might finally be the moment she gets together with her best friend, Daniel, somehow he ends up with Emily, her monstrous flatmate, and Olivia's resigned to the fact that he's just not interested in her. On the advice of her family she agrees to go speed-dating and at the last minute Emily deigns to join her. But whilst Olivia strikes up only an amicable rapport with football-obsessed Ned, Emily manages to win the misplaced affections of Peter whose interest becomes increasingly intense. With an uber-vindictive flatmate and a crazed stalker, this is far from your average love-of-your-life novel. Don't be deceived by the girly pink cover and the nondescript title. I loved Jules Wake's writing style which showed a really natural wit that had me sniggering throughout and an extremely obvious talent that made reading a comforting experience. The novelty of the storyline is great and in Emily, Wake creates a superb love-to-hate enemy. Olivia is an absolute trooper but at times you just wish she'd unleash. As for Daniel, he's a worthy hero if a bit gullible and naive. At some points in the novel, he's absent for lengthy periods and it would have been nice for him to be a more consistent presence, whilst the subplot with Ned was a bit of a non-starter which had the potential for more. It was also something of a surprise that the stalker plot revolved around Emily rather than Olivia although as they're flatmates this didn't really make much difference. Unconventional and slightly darker, although far from the domestic-type thriller, Talk to Me shakes up straightforward romance and chick lit whilst keeping the sentiment intact. An impressive debut. (JC)

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