Just Haven’t Met You Yet is a charming and humorous tale about how life can upend our expectations and deliver unexpected joy in doing so. Readers should be warned, however, that the back blurb is perhaps a tad misleading as to just what happens when our heroine sets off on a quest to find her HEA. I try to infer the truth in my review without directly giving away spoilers.
Laura Le Quesne was raised on stories of her parents' amazing romance. The two had an adorable meet cute: her mom discovered half of a very special coin, traveled to Jersey to return it to its original owner, and she’d fallen in love with the lady’s grandson while there. It is the stuff of which dreams are made. At least, the stuff of which Laura’s dreams are made, and she is holding out for an equally spectacular story. Until that moment, she interviews others about their romantic rendezvous for the show How Did You Meet? which airs on the LoveLife lifestyle platform.
When the stars of her real life How Harry Met Sally tie-in for the broadcast wind up in prison (Sally was selling drugs when she met Harry) a desperate Laura pitches her parents’ love story as a substitute and is delighted when it gets accepted. The program will feature a series of then and now pics, juxtaposing snapshots from their courtship with photos of Laura visiting the same spots, so it will be a travel piece as well. Laura has never really been in touch with her dad’s side of the family, so being in Jersey will give her a chance to connect with them and discover for herself the terrific island which featured so prominently in her folks’ tale.
Laura’s journey doesn’t get off to a great start. At the airport, the best looking man she has ever seen bumps into her, causing her luggage to fly open and tampons to spill everywhere. He’s eager to make up for his mishap and helps her pick them up, a moment that is awkward and embarrassing for both of them. Then she arrives at her hotel only to realize she’s grabbed the wrong suitcase off the carousel. While looking at the contents, desperately willing them to convert into pajamas she can wear to bed and capris she can cavort on the beach in, she makes a startling discovery. J. Le Maistre, owner of the case, has a well-worn copy of To Kill a Mockingbird very similar to her own. Like her, he loves Phil Collins’ music. He wears knit cream fisherman’s jumpers similar to the kind Chris Evans wore in Knives Out. She loves those on a man. (To be fair, Chris made all of us love them!) He has piano music - and she thinks men who play the piano are incredibly sexy. One illicit trip through J. Le Maistre’s luggage is all Laura needs to know he is her dream man. And how romantic is it that she’s found The One on the same island where her parents first met and fell in love?
As the old saying goes, “The course of true love never did run smooth”, a fact Laura quickly discovers for herself. Finding the mysterious J proves harder - and full of more surprises - than she expected, even with the help of cab driver Ted Palmerston as her tour guide. Their madcap jaunt around Jersey includes adventures with cows, uncovering family secrets and Laura reimagining “the life, and love, she always thought she wanted.”
Just Haven’t Met You Yet is a hybrid novel - part women’s fiction/chick lit, part romance - told in first person singular. Laura is a fun and lively narrator. She’s also good natured about the scrapes she gets herself into, kind, spontaneous and, as Ted tells us, “joyful”. I found myself thoroughly engaged in, and thoroughly enjoying, her exploits.
The author does a nice job of combining the silly with the serious. The heavier factors tend to revolve around parents, especially the secrets that come out as their adult children are forced to say goodbye or help them settle into a new way of life. Laura’s dad died young and her mother youngish - a fifty-something gone too soon from colon cancer. Visiting Jersey takes Laura back to a time in their lives she never really knew about and leads her to make some shocking discoveries.
Those discoveries make an impact on how her meeting with the wonderful J goes. He’s everything she ever thought she wanted in a man - kind, smart, successful, close to his family, loves all the same things she does. They should be perfect for each other but meeting her family on Jersey and learning secrets from her parents' past has left her wondering if what she has always thought she wanted is really what she actually needs.
Ted’s journey parallels Laura’s. His mother died several years earlier and he is on the island helping his dad, who has Parkinson’s disease, relocate from their family home to a care facility. Packing up the house is forcing Ted to examine the past, not just his family’s history but his own. In the nature of many romance/women’s fiction heroes, Ted had a problematic relationship a while back which left him wounded and wondering if love is really for him. I appreciated that he didn’t follow the typical route of blaming all women everywhere for his pain and swearing off love forever but was instead going through a grieving experience which made him reflective and introspective rather than vindictive. His contemplation has him questioning his idea of love. He always thought he needed someone just like him - but does he need someone who challenges him instead?
By now you will have realized the author has set us up for a love triangle between J, Laura and Ted. I was fairly certain whom Laura would pick given the page space spent with the individual but there are enough complications and sufficient confusion thrown in to keep readers unsure until near the end.
Just Haven’t Met You Yet was cruising towards DIK status until the author began to talk about the impermanence of love. The story contemplated a bit too often that happily ever after is an illusion and we should “be happy today, and for as many todays as we are lucky enough to have” . It’s a too obvious bit of shade thrown against the HEAs romances are so well known for.
That said, Just Haven’t Met You Yet is a fun, mostly lighthearted read that looks at the reality of how complicated modern love and contemporary life can be. I thoroughly enjoyed it and think it will be perfect for fans of Jenny Colgan, Mhairi McFarlane or for anyone who likes heroine centric stories that are a combo of women’s fiction and romance.
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Recent Comments …
That is a great suggestion! I may just do so, since Caz says that WFTF hasn’t really changed all that…
Thanks for this review — I got the book from my library and was thoroughly charmed!
I read the excerpt of this one and it’s a doozy. It begins with the hero thinking about the heroine…
This one looks amazing. I will have to add it to my never-ending TBR.
No worries, it doesn’t sound like that big of a spoiler! Thank you for elaborating, Caz. You are always very…
I wish you’d seen my review first and been warned away from it! Thank you!