Honeymoon Hotel by Hester Browne

18774978Thanks to GoodReads for alerting me to the fact that there was a new Hester Browne novel on the market. I had to wait through two cycles of interlibrary loan before I got my hands on a copy, but it was worth the wait.

Our heroine, Rosie, is an events coordinator at a boutique London hotel, with loads of old Hollywood glamour and stories. It’s still a family-run place, which leads to issues when one of the owner’s vagabond sons arrives back on the scene after time in America. Rosie’s the best at what she does and she thrives on the chaos and perfection that weddings bring out in people. Her boyfriend’s a bit of a d-bag, but they rarely see each other due to their schedule, so it’s totally fine if they try to buy their own place, right?

As a type A, perfectionist, who loves to organize things down to the last detail, I loved Rosie and admired her goal of giving every bride she works with the perfect wedding she always dreamed of. I totally got her resentment of Joe, the owner’s son, who shows up with his talk of “the universe” and flash mobs instead black-and-white elegance. He doesn’t grow on me as fast as he does for Rosie, however. Also wished that Rosie had wised up by about Dominic, her d-bag restaurant reviewer boyfriend, who just never seems like the catch she thinks he is, much sooner than she did, but I guess that wouldn’t have given Joe a chance to shine by comparison. I definitely got a kick out of her wishing on medivac helicopters, so he does have his moments.

Rosie’s right, someone should write a screenplay about their story, including his final speech, and fill it with lovely British actors. I almost missed the epilogue, which is filled with rich details of what happens next, which I appreciated because I wasn’t quite ready to let these characters go at the end. Fingers crossed for a sequel or a follow up in another book!

The Runaway Princess by Hester Browne

13547080This is likely my last book of the year since I’m only about 30 pages into my next one and the year ends tomorrow. I didn’t make my goal, but I did enjoy the books I read.

This book clearly takes advantage of the Kate Middleton fantasy, of a girl who starts dating a guy who just happens to be a prince. If you enjoyed the movie The Prince & Me, you’d like this book. Amy, our heroine, is a gardener from Yorkshire who shares a flat in London with a socialite (Jo) who likes to throw parties and boss around contractors. There are the requisite odd characters in the building, but they don’t appear often enough to be annoying.

Leo, our princely hero, doesn’t have a lot of depth and is devoted to our heroine from the very start. The few conflicts that arise are pushed away, but I have a feeling that’s more of an English thing that I don’t understand. I have to admit I got verklempt when Leo proposed the first time; it was SUPER romantic and almost too perfect!

I was annoyed, however, by the long, drawn out Kelly saga. I was over it by the second vague reference to her horrid behavior and the continuous mysterious references during the book did not get better. By the time Amy spells it out for Jo in the last 50 pages, the actual incident seemed tame. I felt bad for the family, but it wasn’t worth the intrigue.

The book wraps everything up WAY too fast, without really dealing with the larger conflict for our couple. That said, I’d be into a sequel, to see how they deal with their new lives.

Swept Off Her Feet by Hester Browne

8723854I finished this book on a recent flight as I left on vacation and I was sad to see it end. I was definitely glad I was already in flight because I would have been hard pressed not to grab my passport and head to Scotland for castles, reeling and kilted gentlemen!

The main character grew on me as we went along, though the same cannot for some of the other characters. Evie’s family is mentioned a lot and seeming bombshell events from the past are mentioned, but it all seems like a surface writing. It almost feels like Evie isn’t really related to them because while she’s annoyed by them when they interfere in her life, she’s otherwise unconcerned by them. Her sister behaves very uncharacteristically at one point and Evie is content to text her and lie for her instead of going to find out what the hell is going on. And then the sister’s explanation is ludicrous, but apparently true, since everyone just accepts it. I really enjoyed the interplay between Evie and Rob because while it follows the chick lit trope that the first standoffish man who interacts with our heroine will end up her love interest, it doesn’t get too serious too fast.

I actually think this book would work better as a movie because reading about reeling is like dancing about architecture (to borrow a phrase). There were times I was definitely confused by the descriptions, but if you are a reeling enthusiast, you probably know what she’s talking about. That said, it would make a perfect Saturday afternoon Lifetime movie (like I Do, But I Don’t). Are you listening, Hollywood?!

The Finishing Touches by Hester Browne

6780791I was adding books to my GoodReads account when I realized that the Hester Browne, whose Little Lady series I had enjoyed, had written more books since the last Little Lady book. I scoured the interlibrary loan and after a long wait, The Finishing Touches arrived. Unfortunately, life intervened and I didn’t have the time to read that I wanted. Luckily for me, I had my monthly trip for a pedicure today, which helped me polish off more than a hundred pages. And then, I just couldn’t put it down.

There were a lot of things going on, but they were all handled well. I really do wish there was a “finishing school for the 21st century” because I would definitely love some of those classes. Each chapter started with a “hint” and I felt like I should write them down. And I was actually surprised at who our heroine ended up with; usually I can tell from the first chapter.

It was a great read, and I’m sorry that my interlibrary loan doesn’t have her other book available. But I’ll definitely keep my eye out for it!

The Little Lady & The Prince by Hester Browne

2574075I couldn’t help grabbing this when I stopped by Barnes & Noble to pick up Jennifer Weiner’s new book. While I hadn’t been in love with the first two books, I still had to see where Melissa Romney-Jones ended up.

The plot was a lot more believable this time and I didn’t find myself getting annoyed Melissa as much as in the last book. I was enthralled by the love story with her grandmother as much as anything else. Seems so sweet and British really. I loved that there was more Emery and less Allerga. The family scenes were so much more bearable and I could actually stand to think about being in the same room with them.

Unfortunately, while I was going along, enjoying the realism and the characters much more than last time, in the last 20 pages, the wheels fall off the wagon. Melissa falls in love with the “perfect” man and it’s just frustrating. Totally ruined the end of the book (which would have been delightful otherwise). Sigh.