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Posts Tagged ‘jill mansell’

Source: Purchased

I finished reading Jill Mansell’s This Could Change Everything several months ago, and the characters have stuck with me since then. The novel centers on Essie, whose life is turned upside down when her scathing but hilarious Christmas round-robin email is sent to her entire address book by Lucas, a stranger who drove her drunk brother home from a party. She and her friend Scarlett had planned to exchange these letters privately as Christmas gifts. But what Lucas thought was harmless fun results in Essie being jobless, homeless, and single all at once.

When Essie meets the elegant, fun-loving, and generous Zillah, her life appears to be looking up. She has a new apartment in a new town, new friends in Zillah and Zillah’s other tenant, the former lawyer turned gardener and photographer Conor, and a new job at a bar close to her new home. However, she is in for a major shock when she comes face to face with Lucas, and it becomes harder and harder for her to see him only as the man who ruined her whole life.

In true Mansell style, the characters are endearing, fun, and a bit over the top at times, and she does a great job of blending humor with romance and even some teary-eyed scenes. As always, Mansell’s secondary characters are just as interesting as the main characters, and I enjoyed watching them evolve and journey toward their own happily ever afters. This Could Change Everything shows how seemingly small actions really do change everything for each character, and how an email prank brings them together in unexpected ways, teaching them a lot about friendship, family, love, and forgiveness.

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Source: Purchased

Jill Mansell’s Meet Me at Beachcomber Bay takes readers back to St. Carys, the setting for The Unexpected Consequences of Love. It was nice to see mention of those characters here and there, but Meet Me at Beachcomber Bay introduces a whole new cast of entertaining characters. The book opens with Clemency rushing to catch a flight, and she is forced to sit with a man whom she believes to be incredibly rude. By the end of the trip, she and Sam hit it off, but then a surprise revelation puts a stop to their relationship before it can even begin.

Fast forward more than three years later, and Clemency is a real estate agent on St. Carys, working with the incredibly handsome, totally sweet, and somewhat of a ladies’ man Ronan. When Clemency’s high-maintenance stepsister Belle returns to St. Carys with her new and perfect boyfriend, Clemency is gobsmacked to see that it’s Sam. Rather than listen to Belle go on and on about her perfect relationship and shoot jabs at Clemency for her lack of a boyfriend, among other things, Clemency convinces Ronan to pose as her boyfriend. After all, everyone in St. Carys thinks they’d be perfect together, and it’s not like Ronan is playing the field anymore, since he has his eye on Kate despite their disastrous one night together.

Even if the attraction between Clemency and Sam is still real, nothing could ever happen between them because of a long-standing pact between the sisters. While Clemency tries to hide her feelings for Sam, there is plenty of drama going on elsewhere, from Ronan’s curiosity about his biological parents to local artist Marina’s obnoxious ex-husband to Belle’s budding friendship with a fitness fanatic. Each of these stories is interesting on its own, but put together they create a rich story about friendship, family, and being true to oneself.

Mansell has a knack for creating stories that perfectly balance romance, drama, and humor, and for introducing so many intriguing and well-developed characters in a single book. I’ve read at least a dozen of her books so far, and I’ve never been disappointed. Meet Me at Beachcomber Bay is a fun story, with a few surprises and plenty of sweet and awkward moments. It’s a great summer read if you’re looking for something light and fun.

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the unexpected consequences of love

Source: Personal library
Rating: ★★★★☆

On the surface, her day-to-day life was happy; she laughed and joked and behaved like a completely normal person. Other people regarded her as cheerful, up for a laugh, and extroverted.

But that was on the surface, purely for public consumption. Unaware of her past — simply because it was no one else’s business but her own — what they didn’t realize was that there was a permanent chunk of ice embedded in the center of her heart.

(from The Unexpected Consequences of Love)

The Unexpected Consequences of Love is another winner by Jill Mansell about a woman unwilling to ever let another man into her heart and a man hellbent on squeezing through the slightest crack in the wall she’s built around it. Sophie Wells’ last relationship is a mystery to all except her best friend, Tula, but it was tragic enough for her to swear off men altogether and focus all her energy on her photography business. Sophie catches the eye of Josh Strachan when her job brings her to his grandparents’ hotel in St Carys, and he is determined to convince Sophie to give him a chance, even if it means digging into her past.

Meanwhile, Josh’s grandfather’s efforts to win back his ex-wife take a hit when the man he wronged sets his sights on her; Tula can’t take Josh’s friend Riley’s attentions seriously because she needs a reliable man, not a womanizing surfer; and Riley’s aunt, Marguerite is on the prowl for husband No. 4 while harboring a deep secret.

Mansell never lets me down when it comes to her characters. They often stumble their way through life, but that’s what makes them feel real. Mansell’s plots are clever and full of just the right balance of seriousness and humor. Sophie’s last relationship is shocking and sad, and it’s easy to understand how she would be stuck in limbo. I loved all the little twists and turns in each character’s story, and Sophie being forced to finally confront her past was so beautifully handled that it brought tears to my eyes.

The Unexpected Consequences of Love is about finding love when you least expect it, realizing what’s been in front of you all along, and the many ways one’s prejudices can complicate matters of the heart. Once again, Mansell has proved to be a master of the romantic comedy.

Disclosure: The Unexpected Consequences of Love is from my personal library.

© 2016 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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three amazing things about you

Source: Personal library
Rating: ★★★★★

For a short while, they sat together in silence while everyone else laughed and chattered around them. Then Hallie put her phone down on the table and adjusted the oxygen tubing behind her ears. ‘Anyway, make the most of every day, that’s what I’m going to do. Make more of an effort, stop worrying about what could go wrong, just go ahead and do more things, have a couple of adventures. Before it’s too late.’

(from Three Amazing Things About You)

Jill Mansell’s Three Amazing Things About You follows three women: Hallie, who has cystic fibrosis, is in need of a lung transplant, writes an online advice column, and is in love but can’t act on those feelings; Tasha, whose anxiety makes it difficult to handle the fact that her boyfriend is an adrenaline junkie; and Flo, whose job as a companion for an elderly woman leads to an unconventional living arrangement and an unlikely romance with a man whose obnoxious sister puts a damper on their happiness. When the novel opens, Hallie is on her way to the hospital with the promise of a new life, and Mansell takes readers back in time to show how these women’s lives will converge.

Three Amazing Things About You is a beautifully written tale that stays funny and lighthearted despite putting the characters into some tough situations. Hallie is an inspiring character who keeps on living regardless of the limitations of her condition. The secondary characters, as always, are fantastic — from the feisty Margot to the hilarious banter between Joe and Carmel to the pampered feline Jeremy. I don’t want to say more about the plot or the characters because I don’t want to give anything away. Mansell kept me on the edge of my seat throughout the novel, as I knew it would eventually return to the opening scene and I had no idea what was going to unfold.

Mansell has another winner with Three Amazing Things About You. In fact, of all the Mansell novels I’ve read so far, this was my favorite. (It also made my Best of 2015 list, but I am woefully behind in posting non-blog-tour reviews.) I was worried that this book would be too sad for me, but I shouldn’t have been, as Mansell manages to insert plenty of humor and liveliness into Hallie’s story. I’m still working my way through Mansell’s back list, but I’m doing it slowly so I can savor these little treasures!

Disclosure: Three Amazing Things About You is from my personal library.

© 2016 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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open house

Source: Personal library
Rating: ★★★★☆

‘No thanks. I’d rather walk.’

So much for largesse. Enraged, Marcus demanded, ‘Why?’

‘Don’t you remember?’ Nell hoisted the bulging, end-of-term haversack containing far too many textbooks on to her shoulder. ‘People like us shouldn’t accept lifts from people like you. If we did,’ she added sweetly, “we might start getting ideas above our lowly station. And that would never do.’

(from Open House)

Jill Mansell’s Open House begins with a spat between 15-year-old Nell O’Driscoll and the Earl of Kilburton’s arrogant son, Marcus. The O’Driscolls have a reputation in the village and almost enjoy being the subject of local gossip. Fast forward a decade, and Nell finds herself working for Marcus, the new earl, as he prepares to open the family’s castle to the public. Marcus sees Nell in a different light, but old hurts and secrets force her to keep her distance. Meanwhile, Nell’s best friend, Hetty, is struggling to rebuild her life since her husband left her for a successful novelist — who has no qualms about parading her sex life through the media, even if it means hurting Hetty and Tony’s teenage daughter, Rachel, whose crush on Nell’s younger brother, the suave Derry, pushes her down the wrong path.

The myriad characters Mansell worked into this novel — from Hetty’s ex-husband’s obnoxious mistress Vanessa to Marcus’s over-the-top, whiny sister Jemima — were all thoroughly entertaining. There was a lot going on in this novel, but it never felt like too much. Mansell even describes various people in the village who hardly make an appearance, but doing so paints a richer portrait of life in a small town, where everyone’s business is known by everyone and where gossip runs rampant. Even when I have a pretty good idea of how it’s all going to play out, Mansell always manages to throw in a few surprises.

Open House is an utterly charming, feel-good novel from start to finish. Mansell never lets me down, always providing an enjoyable novel with plenty of humor, romance, and even some weightier moments. She perfectly balances the numerous subplots and secondary characters, which I usually find just as interesting as the main story. Her characters are endearingly flawed, and I can always relate to them in some way. Like the many Mansell books I’ve read before, Open House had me laughing out loud and never wanting it to end. Mansell is my go-to author when I’m in need of a pure comfort read.

Disclosure: Open House is from my personal library.

© 2016 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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don't want to miss a thing

Source: Personal library
Rating: ★★★★☆

It was unbelievable.  You could actually see it happening.  One minute he was completely and utterly entranced.  Before long, as if the momentousness of the occasion had made its presence felt, the newest addition to the family stirred and opened her eyes.

“Her name is Delphi,” said Laura.

“Oh my God.”  Dex exhaled slowly.  “Look at her.”

(from Don’t Want to Miss a Thing, page 4)

Quick summary: Dexter Yates is a player, and despite all girlfriends he has had, the only women he has ever loved are his sister, Laura, and his baby niece, Delphi.  When Laura dies suddenly and tragically, he faces a life without them both.  His fast-paced London lifestyle leaves no room for a baby, but Molly Hayes, a cartoonist and his neighbor in the Cotswolds village where he recently bought a house, encourages him to follow his heart where Delphi is concerned.  Meanwhile, Frankie, the owner of a popular café in the village, and her daughter, Amber, learn that their seemingly perfect family life is far from it.  But while Frankie sees it as an opportunity for freedom, Amber feels lost and doesn’t know who to trust.

Why I wanted to read it: Jill Mansell’s novels are pure comfort reads.  I don’t read too much women’s fiction, but Mansell’s British romantic comedies are always fantastic.

What I liked: Mansell always creates such well-developed and interesting characters.  In Don’t Want to Miss a Thing, I was happy to see her put a man in the lead role, and watching Dexter evolve from ladies’ man to family man was heartwarming.  As with her other novels, I found all of the plot lines equally entertaining.  As a wife and mother with a teenage daughter, I warmed up easily to Frankie.  And of course, the characters find themselves in ridiculously funny situations and misunderstandings.  Mansell tackles some pretty heavy themes, but she does a great job keeping things from getting too serious.

What I disliked: There really wasn’t anything to dislike.  I enjoyed the book, but it wasn’t my favorite of Mansell’s novels.

Final thoughts: Mansell has a knack for creating endearingly flawed characters who feel like old friends, and she never fails to make me laugh.  Don’t Want to Miss a Thing is a story about the many kinds of love, new-found love, enduring love, and the love between a parent and child, and how finding real love can turn your life upside down.  It’s about making the right decisions, even when few of the people in your life believe in you, and the freedom that comes from acceptance.  Once again, Mansell showed me exactly why I have been recommending her books to family, friends, and my dear blog readers for years!

Disclosure: Don’t Want to Miss a Thing is from my personal library.

© 2014 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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thinking of you

Source: Review copy from Sourcebooks
Rating: ★★★☆☆

“You know, I think it’s a pretty good job I’m here,” she told Ginny.  “Because, basically, you’re pretty hopeless.  You’ve been wrong about everyone so far.”

(from Thinking of You)

Thinking of You is another lighthearted British chick lit novel by Jill Mansell, whose books never fail to bring a smile to my face.  The heroine of Mansell’s latest U.S. release is Ginny Holland, a woman struggling with a newly empty nest and the fact that her daughter, Jem, is doing just fine without her at university.  After mistakenly thinking a roommate would liven up the house and supply her with a new best friend, Ginny takes a waitressing job, only to learn that the owner of the restaurant/antiques shop, the irresistibly handsome Finn, is the same man who nearly had her arrested for shoplifting.

While Ginny struggles to get back in the dating game, her ex-husband, Gavin, continues chasing 20-somethings in miniskirts; her daughter, Jem, learns that the freedom to make your own decisions often is accompanied by huge mistakes; her best friend, Carla, lets her down big time; and her roommate, Laurel, can’t move past a failed relationship.  As always, Mansell gives her secondary characters plenty of time in the spotlight, and they are always just as interesting as the main characters.

Thinking of You is a great escapist read.  I found myself cringing with every mistake and misunderstanding and laughing at every embarrassment.  I wasn’t fully convinced by the main love story, mostly because I don’t think it was as developed as it could have been, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the book.  Mansell is my go-to author for comfort reads that let me just go with the flow, and Thinking of You didn’t disappoint, even if it isn’t my favorite of her books.

I love how Mansell’s heroines are endearingly flawed women to whom I can relate in some way, and I love how she manages to balance weightier issues with humor so her books never feel too heavy.  In Thinking of You, she has created a sweet tale about the bonds between mothers and daughters and the power of female friendships.

Disclosure: I received Thinking of You from Sourcebooks for review.

© 2013 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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Source: Review copy from Sourcebooks
Rating: ★★★☆☆

“Or we could live in it!”

Lara’s heart went thuddity-thud.  “You mean here in Bath?”

“I was thinking we could maybe attach it to five million multicolored helium balloons and float it to wherever takes our fancy.”  Gigi rolled her eyes.  “Yes, Mum, of course here in Bath.”

(from A Walk in the Park)

I think I say this every time I read one of her books, but Jill Mansell is the master of British romantic comedies, and she’s the only contemporary author I read who time after time creates secondary characters that are just as captivating as the main characters.  Although it’s not my favorite Mansell novel, A Walk in the Park was the perfect book for me following a busy week of cooking for Thanksgiving and decorating the house for Christmas.  It was a charming story and a quick read.

When her father dies, Lara Carson returns to Bath for the first time after leaving suddenly 18 years prior at the tender age of 16.  She takes up residence in the family home and realizes there’s so much she doesn’t know about the mother she lost when she was 13.  Lara falls easily back into her friendship with Evie, who needs a shoulder to cry on when her wedding doesn’t go as planned, and she reconnects with Flynn, the boyfriend she’d left behind all those years ago.  While Flynn deals with a shocking revelation, Lara does her best to deny her feelings for him.

At the same time, Mansell introduces still more secondary characters, including Gigi, a spunky teenage girl wise beyond her years; Harry, an old-fashioned, kindhearted shop owner who is catapulted into the spotlight by American hip-hop artist and womanizer EnjaySeven; Nettie, Lara’s feisty aunt; and Don, a jewelry store owner with a big (but bad) heart.  Harry and Enjay are complete opposites, and their banter was the highlight of the book for me.  Just picture a superstar rapper who gets everything he wants standing next to a straitlaced British man who brings a book to a nightclub.  Hilarious!

A Walk in the Park seemed to have more secondary characters than other Mansell novels.  I think she does a great job juggling so many unique personalities, and while their stories were resolved satisfactorily by the end, it felt like some of them were rushed.  I also had a hard time feeling the passion between Lara and Flynn, maybe because the only glimpse we get of them together as teenagers is during a fight.  However, neither of these issues prevented me from thoroughly enjoying the book.

Mansell amazes me with the unique and embarrassing situations she puts her characters in, and she never fails to make me laugh.  She also does a great job weaving in more serious storylines that threaten to bring a tear to your eye.  A Walk in the Park is a lighthearted novel about reclaiming your life, figuring out who you are, and never settling for less than what you deserve.  It’s a pure escapist read, with plenty of drama and romance to make you forget your own troubles for a little while.

Disclosure: I received A Walk in the Park from Sourcebooks for review.

© 2012 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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Source: Borrowed from Serena
Rating: ★★★★☆

Jill Mansell’s Perfect Timing was the perfect book for me during these sluggish days of summer.  Once again, Mansell dazzled me with strong characters, plenty of cringe-worthy moments, a story that was both serious and lighthearted, and of course, enough humor to keep a smile on my face throughout.  It’s no wonder Mansell is one of my go-to authors when I’m in need of a feel-good comfort read.

Perfect Timing opens with our heroine, Poppy Dunbar, on the night before her wedding at her bachelorette party, where she meets the man of her dreams.  Even though she doesn’t know if she’ll ever see Tom again and never even found out his last name, Poppy realizes that her uncertainty about marrying Rob and the fact that she hit it off so easily with another man mean she has to call off the wedding.

In a single moment, Poppy disappoints everyone she knows and learns the truth about her cold and distant father.  Poppy sets off to make her future in London, where she gets a job in an antiques stall with the handsome but geeky Jake and rooms with the popular and sexy artist Caspar French and the arrogant and insecure Claudia.  Caspar likes Poppy’s nerve and offers her the room right away, but Claudia’s long-time, unrequited crush on Caspar means she has no plans of befriending Poppy and is irritated by her presence.  However, the trio grows close as Caspar tries to navigate his numerous casual relationships, Claudia seeks to get Jake’s attention despite their being complete opposites, and Poppy hopes to find Tom and the truth about her past.

Perfect Timing is a quick-moving story fueled by so many interesting secondary characters, from Dina, Poppy’s best friend who is desperate to rid herself of the responsibilities of being a wife and new mother, to Angie Slade-Welch, Claudia’s attractive and predatory mother who flirts with anyone in pants and even steals men away from her daughter.  These two characters liven up the story, though at times they are pretty pathetic.  I didn’t like them at all, but I could understand where they were coming from, with Dina having to put her partying days behind her and envying Poppy’s freedom, and Angie not wanting to get old.  Mansell is an expert at creating well-developed characters, and I always look forward to discovering which unique personalities I’ll meet the next time around.

Even though I ended up really enjoying Perfect Timing, I must admit that it took me awhile to get really invested in the story.  I loved Poppy from the beginning because of her spunk and her fearlessness.  She’s dealt a hard blow in the course of the story, one that would be too much for many people to handle because of the unfairness of it all, but Poppy counts her blessings and moves on.  She’s someone I wouldn’t mind having for a friend.  However, Claudia was a tough pill to swallow, but I couldn’t fault her too much considering that she was raised by Angie.  And I had a hard time at first figuring out what was so great about Caspar.  I get that he’s the hot, carefree artist type, but at my age, I don’t want my heroes being sloppy, inconsiderate roommates.  Yet both of them grew on me by the end and illustrate Mansell’s ability to create characters with big faults and big strengths, just like real people.

Perfect Timing is a fun romantic comedy by a master of the genre.  It was just what I needed at a time when life is really busy and I need time to calm down and get lost in other people’s problems for awhile.  If you’re a fan of Jill Mansell or chick lit in general, you’ll enjoy this one, and if you haven’t read Mansell’s books yet, what are you waiting for??

Disclosure: I borrowed Perfect Timing from Serena.

© 2012 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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Source: Review copy from Sourcebooks
Rating: ★★★★☆

Out in the garden, chiefly for Tilly’s sake, everyone was behaving in a civilized fashion and acting as if Leonie was an invited guest.

Well, fairly civilized.

“What would you like on your steak, Leonie?  Tomato sauce?  Mustard?  Herbicide?”

(from Nadia Knows Best, page 170)

What I love most about Jill Mansell’s novels are her humor and her characters, and her latest U.S. release, Nadia Knows Best, doesn’t disappoint.  The book centers on Nadia Kinsella, who is in a long-term relationship with stock broker-turned-model Laurie when real estate investor Jay Tiernan rescues her from her car in a snowstorm.  The two are forced to room together overnight, and although she finds Jay attractive and is tempted to do more than just share a bed, she is committed to Laurie.  Besides, they’ll never see each other again, right?

Months later, when she unexpectedly bumps into Jay, there’s no denying the attraction between them, and Nadia readily accepts his offer of a job designing gardens for the properties he flips.  However, there’s still Laurie to worry about, not to mention Jay’s abrupt change in attitude, which has Nadia wondering if he really is the boss from hell.

Meanwhile, the entire Kinsella clan is embroiled in some sort of drama.  Nadia’s artist sister Clare is used to having the upper hand in relationships, but the more obvious it becomes that Piers is playing games with her, the more irresistible he becomes.  Their father, James, who hasn’t had a real relationship since his wife walked out on him and his daughters years ago, gets a little help in the romance department from their 13-year-old sister, Tilly, who struggles to fit in at school and really wants to build a relationship with Leonie, the free-spirited, irresponsible mother who abandoned them all as children.  There’s also Miriam, their spunky grandmother, who is busy trying to suppress a secret from her past that could mean jail time if brought to light.

Once again, Mansell has crafted a fun novel that’s the perfect mix of endearingly flawed characters, humorous misunderstandings, sexual tension, and family drama.  Mansell is one of a few authors whose books I know I’ll enjoy even before I begin to read them.  Her heroines are women we can relate to, her heroes are simply charming, and her novels are my go-to comfort reads.  I loved Nadia from the start, so I could overlook the fact that she was too wishy-washy when it came to the men in her life.  Clare was so rude and selfish that it was hard for me to like her, though she did liven things up a bit, but Mansell more than made up for it with sweet little Tilly and Annie, the friendly store clerk she befriends.

Nadia Knows Best is a lighthearted book about giving in to love and not settling for anything less than the real deal.  More than that, it’s about unconventional families and how the people who love you most may not be blood relatives, but more importantly, they accept you for who you are and give you the space you need to make your own decisions.

Disclosure: I received Nadia Knows Best from Sourcebooks for review.

© 2012 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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