Happy Singles Day
Happy Singles Day is a contemporary romance that follows a woman content with her single-ness on a vacation away from her busy work life, to a quiet island where she meets an unexpectedly hot bed and breakfast owner.
Paige Parker is a professional organizer with an immaculate desk, a thriving business in Chicago – and no personal life. Since a breach in trust ended her last relationship years earlier, Paige has put all of her focus on her company, helping people clean up their lives and their closets. When her best-friend-slash-personal-assistant convinces Paige to take a vacation, she decides to take a week off of work and go to an island in North Carolina’s Outer Banks. The inn she choses is brought to her attention when she becomes aware of Singles Appreciation Day, February 15th, a day for single people to celebrate themselves. Clearing her schedule, Paige packs her suitcase and heads south, to a charming bed and breakfast that looks like a tiny castle.
Meanwhile, the lord and master of said tiny castle, Lucas Croft, is barely holding his inn together, let alone his life. His first, second, and third priorities are all wrapped up in one tiny person: his four-year-old, Maddie. After the passing of his wife, Lucas doesn’t take bookings, or even really maintain the property, and the dream that belonged to them takes a backseat to Lucas’ grief, and the needs of his daughter. The inn has been empty of guests for two years, though it is rapidly filling up with trash. When Lucas’ meddling sister Sophie confesses to have reactivated the inn’s booking site, Lucas insists on canceling everything. The house is in no shape to receive guests, and he’s not capable of providing service for them. However, this particular guest has paid a prime rate, enough to pay taxes on the property and tide Lucas over until the tourist season starts up in the summer. Lucas decides that he can tolerate one vacationer for a few days, and accepts Sophie’s offer of babysitting.
When Paige arrives, she immediately knows she has made a mistake. The island has no cars, one means of departure via ferry, and the innkeeper seems like a cranky asshole. Despite this, she can’t help but notice that Lucas is incredibly attractive, hot enough to tempt even someone celebrating her single state. Lucas is annoyed at Paige’s intrusion on his bachelor-dad existence, and knows he doesn’t want to deal with another woman in his life. Even so, he can’t help but notice Paige’s curvy body and gorgeous eyes. With the forced proximity of Paige’s stay, the attraction simmers between them, and they both have to decide whether the single life is really right for them.
The book is enjoyable to read, and the story is fun enough, but there is little remarkable about it. Paige and Lucas have good banter, but aren’t incredibly well-characterized. Paige aspires to success and certainly reaches it, she doesn’t compromise for men, but we really don’t see what makes her tick. Lucas is a family man with a traumatic past, but aside from his work as a contractor, we don’t learn much about him.
Lucas in particular is done a disservice in the book. He initially seems to have a cave-man mindset of not wanting to put the seat down in the bathroom or clean promptly, which doesn’t really endear him to the reader. He also is described fairly lazily, in that his appearance is compared to a specific celebrity. Both protagonists have clear priorities; Paige has her business and Lucas has his family, but neither really is given enough heart. While Sophie, Lucas’ sister, gets a decent inner life of her own, Paige’s personal assistant Sammy is reduced to a plot convenience, basically the gay friend who tells you to get your life together.
Happy Singles Day is a fun, light read, but it just doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. If you are looking for a simple, unassuming book to take your mind off things, I suppose you could do worse.