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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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