Making Mischief is rather inaccurately titled. Its cover shows a young woman drawing on a photo of an attractive man with lipstick. The implication is that she’s deliberately (and sexily) making him a laughingstock. And it was likely this implication which kept the book sitting in my TBR pile for months. I’ve enjoyed Elizabeth Young’s Brit Chick Lit in the past, but I didn’t know if I was up for a gossipy, Jr. High-mentality type heroine. Fortunately, Abby Morland isn’t that at all.
Unlike many of her gossipy Chick Lit compatriots, Abby is actually pretty closed-mouthed and discreet about what goes on around her. When, at age sixteen she witnesses some scandalous behavior between Guy, her cousin Rachel’s object of crush, and Rachel’s best friend, Cara, she doesn’t tell anyone. At least she doesn’t tell anyone who knows any of these people really well. Abby waits until her cousin Fleur (from out-of-town) is available to dish the dirt and vent her outrage. What she doesn’t know is that someday, fifteen or so years in the future, Fleur and Guy will meet and become an item, and the seed of doubt she unwittingly planted in Fleur’s head about Guy’s fidelity will sprout into an ugly weed of suspicion and jealousy.
When Fleur asks Abby to babysit Guy at a reunion party that Cara will be attending, and to monitor him for possible straying tendencies, Abby feels uncomfortable. Not just because it’s spying, but because Guy-in-his-thirties is a great deal more appealing than Young Lad Guy was. Too much time with Guy could be too much of a temptation. But she does it anyway, and so the pot (and a little love triangle) is stirred…
The cast of characters here is very large. Abby has three female cousins and three brothers, and all of them appear regularly. As do her mother, her two aunts, several uncles, assorted friends, her roommate, Jeff, and the piranha in lipstick, Cara. Some readers would find this daunting, but since they’re mostly relatives, and all of them have their own differentiating characteristics, it’s really not that confusing. Her youngest brother, Robbie, who is five and a handful, does get plentiful “screen time,” however, as Abby is perpetually looking after him. He isn’t exactly the typical, angelic romance novel child, and frequently his behavior bordered on bratty. And while he seemed as authentic as children get in novels, frankly I could have had less of him. I have my own two-year-old to keep in line; I don’t need to relive it in my fiction as well.
Readers of Young’s previous books will recognize her creative, Very slang-y use of British English. While some of the book’s humor is in the awkward situations Abby gets herself in, most of it is in the way Young uses English, with pop-culture adjectives and Absurd Capitalizations. Guy and Abby frequently spar, and many of their conversations are funny and flirty too. I will admit to not quite catching all of Young’s cultural references, however, and sometimes I had to decipher the meanings of words by context.
Guy and Abby have nice chemistry, but it does take a while to manifest itself. On the one hand, this is good – a heroine who feels great about poaching her friend’s guy isn’t much of a heroine, really. On the other hand the love triangle between Guy, Fleur, and Abby takes a long time to resolve itself, and for at least two-thirds of the book, there isn’t even a kiss to be had, just some intuited sexual tension.
Making Mischief, is more of a comedy of errors and bad timing rather than mischief. But it does feature a sympathetic heroine who is capable of making mature decisions about men and keeping her mouth shut when it behooves her too. And Guy is the modern equivalent of a gentleman, a hero who is calm and patient and willing to give a second chance to a girl who doesn’t always keep her feelings repressed when she’s upset. This isn’t my favorite Elizabeth Young title, but I can recommend it without any qualms as a very nice book to spend an evening with or a day at the beach.