When Jenny was 13 years old, she made a list of how her life was going to be, including that she would be married by the time she was 31. So on her 31st birthday, she is looking forward to her boyfriend finally proposing. Except that he doesn’t. Heartbroken, Jenny flies to Las Vegas with her best friend, Isla, and spends the night getting drunk. Next morning she wakes up in someone else’s bed, but she doesn’t remember the night before so she runs away, back to London where her boyfriend promptly proposes.
She accepts but her happiness doesn’t last long when Jackson turns up at her office. Because it is not true that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, and it seems that Jenny married Jackson during her wild night there. Jackson promises to give her a divorce if in exchange she spends a week with him exploring London.
The characters are likable and relatable and I especially liked Jenny’s best friend, Isla, who is blunt and knows how to have fun. Because of her childhood problems, Jenny follows her list and is afraid to do anything out of the ordinary until she meets Jackson, who teaches her that it is good to live your life without a plan. The novel also includes a nice tour of London as Jenny and Jackson explore the city together. It’s a great romantic comedy, full of funny scenes and witty dialogues. (NP)
Ethan has always been the one that got away, and whilst Ruby has managed to get through the last ten years without him, that’s been thanks in large part to keeping her distance. But that’s about to change as Ruby’s sister, Piper, is marrying Ethan’s best friend, Charlie, and as maid of honour and best man respectively, Ruby and Ethan will have to spend the next few days in each other’s company.
Pimentel’s second novel is a really enjoyable read. The love story is engaging and the romance pitched just right; the characters create a great ensemble and the setting is believably drawn. Pimentel writes with warmth and some lovely flashes of humour and really captures the rom-com spirit. The novel is told in alternating chapters, switching between the present-day story and Ruby and Ethan’s backstory, and whilst the present-day story is spot on, the backstory feels a bit unbalanced: with too much time spent building up to Ruby and Ethan’s break-up, at which point the narrative ends too soon, without seeing any of the aftermath. Also, whilst the cause of their break-up became fairly predictable, it doesn’t reflect well at all on Ruby and, for me, compromised her character overall, a character whom I’d largely been rooting for up until then. It was a shame, because that aside this novel was great, but it just fell short of being a real stand-out. (JC)
Lauren, an American who works as a science museum event coordinator in London, isn't looking for a serious relationship. But after another man flees while she's cooking him breakfast, she decides to turn her dating life into an experiment. She follows the advice of different books each month - from The Rules to Belle De Jour's Guide to Men - testing out their often absurd methods for finding a man. As Lauren alternates between practising abstinence to chatting up anyone within view, she reflects on the lessons she learns.
This is a well-written and funny debut with an autobiographical touch. Lauren has a snarky sense of humour and is willing to give anything a go. Many readers will thoroughly enjoy living vicariously through her. Unfortunately her story just didn't strike a chord with me.