Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella

35411583I’ve been a fan of Sophie Kinsella’s standalone books for a long time. This one is a quick read that I didn’t love, but I didn’t hate it either.

Our heroine thinks she has the perfect marriage, but it turns out it isn’t so perfect – and not in the way she believes. The love story in this book is different than most chick lit because our main character is already married (with children). She’s got a stable job (not in publishing) and her life seems settled. When she and her husband contemplate how long they might end up married to each other, she decides they should surprise each other to keep things fresh. It starts out innocent (and ridiculous) enough, but soon there are BIG secrets being kept and Sylvie starts spiraling.

The conflict does enter that sitcom cliche territory of “JUST TALK TO EACH OTHER” a little bit, once things start coming out, you ALMOST understand how they got there. It still feels more contrived than not, so this book gets a “like,” not a “love” from me.

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The Little Flower Shop by the Sea by Ali McNamara

23652519When I found out about Thrift Books, I immediately ran through my “can’t find at the library” list of books for things to buy. I was able to get 4 books (including this one) for $12.88! They were all like new or better, which was great.

I’ve been hearing about this book for a year from Ali’s Twitter feed, so I was crazy excited to be able to read it without taking a trip to England or expensive transatlantic shipping. However, it took me much longer to finish than her previous books.

A black sheep daughter inherits her grandmother’s flower shop in a seaside English town. Even though she’s not sure she’s going to keep it, she ends up sucked into the town and running the business. She used to visit her grandmother with her brother when she was a kid, but then there was an incident and her life turned upside down. Which is fine, cause every heroine needs a backstory, but ugh, this one is dragged out until almost the very end and the pay off is nothing special. I mean, yeah, it’s sad, but after all that build up, I wasn’t as moved as I knew I should have been.

I enjoyed the romance, but again, it was only so-so. I think I must have built this one up too much in my head.

Technical Hitch by Jane Sigaloff

358914This book has been on my TBR list for a long time as it’s published by the now-shuttered Red Dress Ink imprint, which was my chick lit reading list 10 years ago. I don’t know if I’ve moved on or if the book quality was part of the reason this imprint hasn’t survived, but my main reaction to this book was – meh.

Our main characters are Jessica James, wedding planner, who gets “cold feet” just hours before her own wedding and then spends most of the book thinking she might have made a mistake, and Emma Carlisle, who got married to the biggest movie star because her boss (and her new husband, Jack’s publicist) suggested that it would be a good idea. But maybe they’ll fall in love anyway? Plus, Jessica’s BFF (who happens to be the sister of Jessica’s would-be groom) is always lovelorn, until she suddenly isn’t and they’re getting married – yay? Also there’s some business about how Jessica’s sister might not be legally married to her husband because they got married abroad and all the sister is whining about is the “illegitimacy” of their baby. Just…okay.

If it sounds pretty ridiculous, it basically is. There’s no one to really root for and everyone was annoying me. But it was a quick read once I finally sat down to read it, so there’s that.

Speaking of, as I’m not going to make my original goal of 30 books this year (I keep getting distracted!), but I’m going to try to finish up strong with 26, which works out to a book every 3 days this month. Crazy? Possibly, but you know how competitive I am, so let’s do this!

The French for Love by Fiona Valpy

The French for Love by Fiona ValpyFinally found a winner! A Friends of SFPL book sale find that was actually worth the $2!

Our (British) heroine Gina has just lost her job, her boyfriend and her favorite aunt within a few months. Her aunt has left her a house in Bordeaux, France that she has to decide what to do with. Wine runs in the family, so Gina decides she’ll keep the house and work on her Master of Wine certification. But being in her aunt’s old house dredges up a secret that Gina wishes she never knew, especially since all the people involved are dead. Gina’s only saving grace is her nearby neighbor, an elderly Frenchwoman with a family full of sons. Cedric catches Gina’s eye immediately, but seeing him with his wife and kids, she realizes she can never have him. Or can she?

I guessed the “twist” about Cedric almost from the jump, but Gina’s ignorance of the truth of the situation isn’t cloying. Her integration into the community reminded me a lot of “Under the Tuscan Sun” (the movie) and I could totally picture this as a film starring Emily Blunt or one of those girls from Game of Thrones. The final romantic scene plays just like a movie that I want to watch.

A Girl Like You by Gemma Burgess

9712341I’m not sure how this book got on my list and when I started it, I wasn’t sure I was going to like it. Our heroine, Abigail, was just a little too “crazy girl on a first date” for me. But as the book wore on, she grew on me. There were a ton of characters in her group of friends and it was a little hard to keep them straight, but in the end it didn’t really matter.

Abigail is frustrating in that I related to her so well that I just want to shake her at times, knowing I’m guilty of the same obsession and/or indecision that she faces. The ultimate romance is telegraphed pretty early on, but the pay off really works once it does happen. By halfway through the book, I couldn’t put it down, so I guess that’s a pretty good endorsement.

And sadly, it’s the last of my London splurges, so I’m back to American chick lit for now. Guess it’s time to plan another trip to the UK!