So I picked up some Manning books on a whim from the library and spent three days immersed in the insanity that is Brit Chick Lit. There were good times, there were bad times but all of them were, in one way or another, fun times.
Hope Delafield hasn’t always had an easy life.
She has red hair and a temper to match, as her mother is constantly reminding her. She can’t wear heels, is terrified of heights and being a primary school teacher isn’t exactly the job she dreamed of doing, especially when her class are stuck on the two times table.
At least Hope has Jack, and Jack is the God of boyfriends. He’s sweet, kind, funny, has a killer smile, a cool job on a fashion magazine and he’s pretty (but in a manly way). Hope knew that Jack was The One ever since their first kiss after the Youth Club Disco and thirteen years later, they’re still totally in love. Totally. They’re even officially pre-engaged. And then Hope catches Jack kissing her best friend Susie…
Does true love forgive and forget? Or does it get mad… and get even?
The thing with Manning’s writing is that it is just so engaging. Her characters are incredibly flawed and as such, relatable. I don’t know if I like them all, in fact, I am sure if I knew them in real life, I wouldn’t like them too much but reading about them is incredibly entertaining. It is sort of like listening to your girlfriends gossip about some tart.
This novel was my least favourite of the three that I read simply because I wished Hope would just get on with it. Her boyfriend is scum, worse than scum and Hope believes in ways that make it impossible for me to like her more than a smidgeon for most of the novel. The point is belabored once and again and all we did for 95% of the novel is go around in the same bloody circles going over the same bloody points and God, it annoyed me. The only reason I kept reading was because Wilson is just so damned hot that I wanted to know whether he finally gets the girl. Hope does redeem herself at the end but honestly? It was too little too late and I finished the novel with a feeling of relief.
High fashion, high art, high expectations – this is Pretty Woman for the twenty-first century Money makes the world go round – that’s what twenty-something Grace Reeves is learning. Stuck in a grind where everyone’s ahead apart from her, she’s partied out, disillusioned, and massively in debt. If she’s dumped by another rock-band wannabe, squashed by anyone else at her cut-throat fashion job, or chased by any more bailiffs, Grace suspects she’ll fall apart…
So when older, sexy and above all, wealthy art-dealer Vaughn appears, she’s intrigued against her will. Could she handle being a sugar daddy’s arm candy?
Soon Grace is thrown into a world of money and privilege, at Vaughn’s beck and call in return for thousands of pounds in luxurious gifts, priceless clothes – and cash. Where’s the line between acting the trophy girlfriend, and selling yourself for money?
And, more importantly: whatever happened to love?
I liked this one better because it is just so out there that I read the novel with a feeling that I was getting a chance to peer into a house I would never have (and never want, maybe) access to. Grace is…well, fucked up. Excuse the French but really, she’s just…a hot mess. Debts that continue piling up, boyfriends who treat her like shit (and she lets them) and a working career that seems limited to making coffee runs. Then along comes Vaughn who basically pays Grace for sex and other services “as required.” Is she a prostitute? That is the question, isn’t it? It’s a muddy area and one that Grace continues thinking about. Do I think she’s a prostitute? No. Not really. Yes, she takes money for her services but she would have slept with him regardless…it’s a grey area but if I judged everyone and everything, I wouldn’t have much fun. Anyway, I liked this novel.
Both the protagonists are just so incredibly messed up but in very human ways. The engaging writing style pulls you into the story and Manning doesn’t ask you to like Grace but accompany her on her ride through the high life. It’s not as if Grace’s lifestyle and life choices are simply because she’s stupid. No, she has a back story which comes complete with a set of incredibly horrible parents. I don’t blame her for being as messed up as she is because honestly? With parents like hers, I would be too. Also, Vaughn is not the stereotypical awesome hot older man without any personality. Oh no, the man is horribly difficult to get along with. Manning infuses her story with just enough realism to make it an enjoyable read.
The denouement was sweet. It didn’t resolve itself neatly and none of the characters did a 180 degree turn and became perfect beings. It was about knowing a person, warts and all, and then still going ahead and loving them. I liked it.