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Just a Girl Standing In Front of a Boy (2014)

Jenny Taylor is Miss I Want A Nice Sensible Love. She's experienced the traumatic fall from grace of a love betrayed and she doesn't want to go there again thank you very much. So she's been avoiding that magical, heart-stopping love ever since and has settled for practical, hardworking Matt, much to her best friend Philippa's chagrin. When she meets Joe King however, it seems that really special love has come a-knocking. But can Jenny risk humiliation and shame again and what about good old dependable Matt. Just as things are getting crazy for Jenny, her mum, with whom she has a strained relationship at best, turns up on her doorstep, having left Jenny's dad and acting all weird. Thank goodness for Philippa and her Smiling Fanny Manifesto - a list of 10 rules to brighten Jenny's day - and flatmate Al who always has her back. With its quintessentially rom-com title and stylish cover, it's clear you can expect something special from this book. It's one of those books where you think I'll just read one more page and before you know it you've finished it because you haven't been able to put it down. For me this isn't a particularly regular occurrence so Just a Girl definitely stands out. Jenny is a wonderfully quirky and adorable character and with sidekick Philippa they really do make quite the double act. Who wouldn't want to be the recipient of one of their compassionate notes, take part in Fashion Friday or go on a musketeer mission with them? And Joe King is a swoonworthy hero who restores your faith in romance. The plot is not the predictable affair it could be and there are several unexpected moments, often for the better, although one moment completely confounded me. Similarly the ending is not quite what you would anticipate yet is powerful and touching. Throughout, Holmes' writing is top quality. Smiling Fanny Manifesto rule 11: Read Just a Girl Standing in Front of a Boy - it's a perfect chick lit read. (JC)

(Un)Like a Virgin (2011)

Gracie is very focused on her career as an estate agent and has a great boyfriend, Danny, who she has been dating for 10 years. Then all of a sudden, things start to fall apart. She was first in line for a promotion at work but John, aka Posh Boy, gets it instead. She discovers her mother is deep in debt and is considering accepting a payout from a construction company to dig up her father's grave to make way for a road. Next Danny decides to take up a job in Canada. With all of this drama, Gracie knows she has to take drastic measures to fix her life and figure out not only what she is going to do but also end her mother's financial worries. That's when Gracie gets an opportunity to sing for Britain Sings with her old-time friend Anton. But she hasn't sang since her father died because that is what she did with him. Can Gracie overcome her fears and win Britain Sings? This is a moving story about a woman's life being turned upside down and her trying to find a way to fix her world as well as the people around her. (CG)

The (Im)Perfect Girlfriend (2010)

In this follow-up to 50 Ways to Find a Lover, actress Sarah Sargent has it all - a great boyfriend Simon who she believes is the love of her life and now she has just got a part in a movie for a well-known director. Just as she is about to head off to LA, Simon's ex-girlfriend Ruth shows up, claiming she is pregnant and Simon is the father. Simon, being the responsible guy he is, says he has to leave Sarah to be with Ruth and try to make a life with their child. So it's a heartbroken Sarah who goes to LA to at least fulfil her dream of being an actress. But she can't get over Simon and refuses to believe that this is it for them. Meanwhile as she has crazy adventures with her friend Rachael, Sarah learns that things will not always happen the way she thinks they will and she ends up helping a friend in need. I enjoyed this book tremendously and will look forward to more from this author. (CG)

50 Ways to Find a Lover (2009)

Aspiring actress/cafe waitress Sarah has been going through a particularly dry spell when it comes to men. But it's when she's turned down by a tubby, balding guy at the pub who instead opts to stay home and watch a Narnia DVD, that she decides to get proactive. Starting a blog called Fifty Ways to Find a Lover, she begins a quest to bag a man. Based on the author's own blog, this storyline weaves around so the ending is far from predictable. If you're after a very funny book about a noughties singleton, then this is for you. But if you are really seeking ingenuous hints on how to pick up a man, be warned that Sarah doesn't actually get very far through her list of 50 ways.

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