Take a Chance on Me
After reading that Take a Chance on Me by Jill Mansell won the The Romantic Novelists’ Association (UK romance writers’ association) Pure Passion Award for Romantic Comedy, I knew I had to read it. Upon finishing it, I completely understand why it won.
Cleo loves her job as a chauffeur in Channing Hill, even though she feels that if Johnny La Venture hadn’t blighted her school days she might have been anything, even an astrophysicist – if she had studied physics. Dreading meeting Johnny again at his father’s funeral she asks her perfect new boyfriend Will Newman to accompany her. Even with his company, Johnny still gets under her skin. At least he will be going back to the States, so she won’t have to suffer his company for long. However as luck will have it, Johnny is around when Cleo finds out that Will is married. If that isn’t appalling enough, soon after Will’s wife Fia moves to Channing Hill as well.
Ash Parry-Jones is the new wonder of the radio airways, displaying assurance, drollness, and charisma but put a pretty girl in front of him, and he lapses back into his teenage insecurities, becoming reticent and bashful. Once he sets eyes on Fia, he falls hard. She doesn’t know why he is so social around everyone else, and can only assume that he doesn’t like her. While that bothers her some, she has her sights set on Johnny.
Cleo’s sister Abbie has been married for twenty-three years to Tom. When she finds out that he has an eighteen-year-old daughter, she turns to her boss for comfort, although it is not what it seems. Neither is the conception of Tom’s daughter. However, when Georgia comes to visit, cracks start to appear in their marriage.
Ms. Mansell juggles these multiple threads with effortless expertise. The writing is delightful, mixed with absurdity, humor and comedy. Still the sprinkling of emotion keeps it from being a complete madcap farce.
The romance is of the kisses variety. I did read on Ms. Mansell’s web page that she writes books that her daughters can read. So the book is more about misconceptions keeping the couples apart rather than sexual tension or sex scenes. Since I love to laugh when reading books, I didn’t miss the sex scenes at all.
The biggest difference in romantic comedy British style vs. American style is that, judging by the books I’ve read, British authors seem more willing to address the issue of adultery in a droll way. Lately, I am finding that I really enjoy British humor and it has given me a wealth of new authors to glom.
I had a wonderful time reading this book, and after finishing I went on to glom three more of Mansell’s books. I had to restrain myself from downloading more. If you are looking for a jolly book, sure to make you laugh, then Take a Chance on Me definitely is your book.