April 25, 2015
Billed as chick lit/contemp romance, one would expect a light, fluffy, and … well, romantic type book. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The book starts off somewhat slowly and analytically as Our Heroine, Chloe, peruses the profiles and stats of possible matches on an Internet dating site.
It picks up the pace when she starts dating a number of these men, and at the same time, we read about her relationships with her two best friends, her family, and … her exes, particularly the most recent one.
Unsurprisingly, this is a book about relationships, or lack of them, and the author does a good job in portraying the very different types that Chloe has.
This story is written in the first person, and primarily present tense, but even so, we learn about Chloe’s past, and that of her friends and family as the story unfolds, yet without any distracting unnecessary information dumps. The skill in this story is showing the feelings and emotions of others through their interaction, emotions, and conversations with Chloe. Dialogue is one of the main techniques used to tell this story, and it is well done, with no overly descriptive tags or unnecessary adverbs. It moves on the story and our understanding at the same time.
Characters develop through the story, and we come to empathise with Chloe’s feelings and thoughts as she questions the way she is approaching online dating and her new relationships. The author takes us inside Chloe’s head so that we share the anticipation of each new date, and the self-doubt that follows. Will there be a repeat date? But not just Chloe, her friends Jess and Shelly, and her family, grow as we read through the book. We truly learn more about all the characters. Even the dates she has stamp their personality on the story.
There is judgement, criticism, argument, and inevitable disappointment. There is however no maudlin sentimentality, the author steers clear of that.
And the plot? Well, my predicted ending didn’t happen, although the actual ending felt a little unreal. Nevertheless, after an up-and-down, exciting, unexpected journey through online dating, the ending provides an optimistic finish, and it has to be said, an interesting one.
It’s a good story of the pervasive influence the internet has on our lives, even down to finding our partners in life.
In chick lit genre, it’s somewhat different from the expected norm, avoiding all the crass stereotypical portrayals of behaviour, while providing good character and plot development. In contemporary romance it holds its own, providing a realistic view of the highs and lows of online dating, and the assumptions people make about it.
I went from one serious relationship to the next, so I really enjoyed living out a casual dating experience vicariously though this novel. I really liked Chloe, she was the kind of person I could imagine being friends with. Going from one dating disaster to the next, I was just as excited to find out what would go wrong as what would go right. There were a lot of male characters to keep track of, and most didn’t last long, so I didn’t really get a chance to connect with any of them – but that’s casual dating for you.
I received this book free from Awesome Indies Book in exchange for an honest review. This is the second book I’ve read by the author and I’m looking forward to the next.
This review has slight spoilers that I felt necessary – you have been warned!
Chloe Thompson is a teacher, has been out with two very very absolutely lovely guys but is still not settled. Her mum likes to remind her of this. Chloe is therefore sensitive to this fact. She has also dated one complete arse.
She thinks it’s time she met a good guy (I totally agreed.) A guy she can not only feel safe with, but also feel the kind of passion she felt for the complete arse (go Chloe!) So she registers for online dating. BUT, it’s 2003!! Online dating is so new it’s almost embarrassing to admit to it. There’s stigma – her mum disapproves, her friends are full to bursting with advice, solicited or not. How is Chloe – and ONLY Chloe – going to decide on her future with so much background noise?
I enjoyed this book overall. This isn’t usually the type of book I would read because I read them too quickly! I usually opt for something different. But the cover and the 4 star rating persuaded me I should read and see. It was very worth it.
Because of the real relationships between Chloe and her friends the book is much deeper than I initially assumed, so props to KJ Farnham. It very maturely addressed the problems found in making decisions with a vocal and opinionated family-and-friend group. Both friends mentioned – Jess and Shelley – are well rounded and also go through character growth in the dating arena.
The book also addresses the sometimes difficult relationship between mother and daughter. It is hard to feel like an adult making decisions if your mother is always chipping in with advice/guilt trips. This book brings a nice resolution to that particular drama, and that’s sometimes difficult to do well or smoothly in fiction without too much preaching.
The last bit of props goes to the exploration of moving away from emotional bonds to a person previously dated. I’ve already mentioned the arse, but he serves a useful purpose. Through the mistakes Chloe makes we all get a masterclass in how to get rid of a clingy ex; don’t see him/her, definitely take away his key if he/she has one, forgoodnesssake don’t sleep with him/her, tell him/her not to call and perhaps even change your number if necessary BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY tell him/her why you’re doing what you’re doing. Tell him/her it’s finished and at least for the time being you don’t want to see him/her. Communication is key, people. Because it’s not only him/her that will be hearing this, it’ll also be YOU. It’s be good for YOU to hear this.
The sex: Chloe has sex. Oh yes she does. I’m afraid neither are the warm, safe, happy-ever-after encounters that happen in happy-ever-after rom-coms. The first is with Mr Arse, and the fact she shouldn’t be doing it and I knew that the guy was just taking advantage of her made me feel very sorry for our Chloe. I’m afraid it got worse after that – the second time was with an online date that date raped her.
I feel I need to mention this because it could be triggering for some readers.
I don’t know how that scene came across to others, but when a girl has almost passed out and says very clearly to the guy: I AM NOT GOING TO SLEEP WITH YOU and he does it anyway, I call rape. And I was also uncomfortable that this guy was portrayed as a good guy for the rest of the time he was around. It was confusing for me as a reader. I don’t know whether this was on purpose as a comment on how many times the girl blames herself for miscommunication and other things in a borderline abusive relationship, or whether the author didn’t quite communicate with readers that actually it wasn’t rape, for reasons that are unclear to me. I like to assume the former because that’s a more interesting story that the author could have gone into more detail about that perhaps she didn’t want to at this time. I hope she does one day. For this confusion, I have reduced my rating from 4 stars to 3.
The element of mystery given in the form of a reading by the Angel Lady of Vegas could have been introduced much sooner. It definitely would have added that extra layer of interest; which guy was closet to the reading? Was Chloe going to listen to the reading, her mother, her friends, or herself? Etc etc. I think as a reader I would have enjoyed that. Plus, having it introduced 80% of the way through (I read this on my Kindle!) feels like it was shoehorned in for the ending.
The writing style itself was so polished and consummately good. I never had any problems reading it, it was smooth and nothing ever stuck out or bothered me/brought me out of the story. Which always means good writing!! I was a very happy reader 🙂Chloe herself was a brilliant character with flaws, so she was real on the page. I enjoyed reading her point of view.
I was surprised by this book, because it had depths. I’m not sure what genre I would out it in other than women’s fiction. It’s NOT a rom-com, because it’s not romantic and it’s definitely not a comedy. It has comedic elements from time to time but not comedy. It’s about a women with serious flaws (all of us!) getting over herself (something we all need to do) to find her relationships again.
3/5 stars. Solid book, with a few flaws.
I (gratefully!) received this book free from Awesome Indies Books in return for an honest review.