The No-Show
Grade : A

First, a bit of backstory.  Months ago, I optimistically requested The No-Show on Netgalley.  I was thrilled (and surprised) when I received a notification that my request was accepted.  To be honest, I requested The No-Show because it was an O’Leary book, and not because of anything I knew about the story.  As usual, I intended to read the book blurb before I started reading the book and figured I would be fine.  Alas, there was no book blurb included!  Since I’m too cheap to pay for a cruise internet package (the prices are ridiculous!), I went into The No-Show totally blind.  I’m so glad I did.

About halfway through the book - which I couldn't put down once I started reading it - I was convinced O’Leary had written a thriller and not a romance, and that there was a villain who was due a major comeuppance.  And I was here for it (the thriller and the comeuppance!)!  I was even tempted to ask my travel buddy/internet package owner to look it up on Goodreads so I could read the blurb and see if I was right, but I resisted.  Again, I'm so glad I did.  Because the payoff - as you reach the final chapters and O’Leary masterfully weaves the disparate PoV threads together - is satisfying on so many levels!  Heartbreaking.  Romantic.  Complicated.  Friends, the word extraordinary comes to mind!  The No-Show isn't technically a thriller or a romance (although there are two HEAs in it), and the ending may leave you in tears.  Happy tears!  Sad tears!  Label shmabel!  I loved The No-Show any way you classify it.  It’s definitely on the short list for my favorite book this year.

Okay.  So how to talk about this tricky novel without any spoilers?  I’ll start with the three women who narrate the story.

Siobhan is a wealthy, ambitious and quick-tempered life coach.  After the abrupt and emotionally devastating end of her last relationship, Siobhan (Shiv to her two closest friends) has little faith in love or happily ever after.  Shiv only does casual relationships, and she’s always the first to bail when any of her lovers begin to get too close.  But on this particular morning, Shiv is at a trendy café waiting for Joseph.  She usually meets Joseph at a hotel for sex once a month (on work trips from her home in Dublin to London).  They don’t date and they definitely don’t meet at trendy cafés for breakfast, and she’s trying not to read too much into the date or the holiday. (It’s Valentine’s Day.)  It’s too late.  Shiv likes Joseph too much already, and deep down she’s hoping the breakfast date is a sign he wants more from her, too.  Except Joseph is late.  And Shiv is pissed.  The café is annoying, a customer has just dripped coffee on her expensive dress, and Joseph is a no-show.  Relationships are not for her - and now, neither is sexy, handsome, funny Joseph.  Shiv leaves the cafe determined never to speak to him again.  She blocks his number.  Shiv doesn’t forgive.  She forgets.

Miranda is a tree surgeon who loves her job.  After spotting a group of tree surgeons at work one day as a little girl, she attended a workshop to learn how to safely clip on and climb up - and she’s been hooked ever since.  When we meet her, she’s nervous.  Today is her first day working with a new - all male - crew, and she’s worried about making a good first impression.  But when Jamie, the team leader, shows up and introduces her to his motley crew, Miranda stops worrying.  Miranda has always been comfortable spending time with lads - and ladies - and the crew immediately makes her feel welcome.  She ignores the slow once-over AJ - a renowned ladies’ man - gives her, and listens as Jamie gives out the daily assignments.  He sends her up into a tall oak, and once she’s up in the tree with her chainsaw, Miranda is wholly focused on the job at hand.  The job is dangerous, and when Miranda is up in a tree, nothing else snags her attention.  She finishes early - reminding Jamie she has a Valentine’s Day lunch to get to.  He waves her off and after she rebuffs AJ's invitation to meet up for a drink, she heads out.  Miranda is happy with her handsome and clever businessman boyfriend, Carter.  She isn’t quite sure how she and Carter - total opposites - wound up together, but she knows she’s falling in love with him.  Unfortunately, after changing at a nearby McDonald’s and arriving early (and underdressed) for their lunch date at the fancy restaurant Carter selected, she’s forced to admit she’s been stood up.  Miranda can’t believe it.  She checks her phone for messages, again texts Carter to ask where he is, and heads home.  Miranda is annoyed - angry even, but she’s certain there’s a good reason Carter was a no-show.

Jane works as a volunteer at a local charity shop.  She likes routines and keeps her life simple - stopping in the same café every morning; ordering the same item (even though she really wants a cinnamon bun); wearing the same clothes on the same days every week - and she’s convinced she’s unlikeable and unloveable.  (Reader, we aren’t sure why Jane is so determinedly alone, and we won’t find out until this story is nearly over).  On this particular night, Jane is at a colleague’s engagement party and is trying to avoid conversation with another volunteer, Keira, by steadily eating through the hors d’oeuvres.  If her mouth is full she can’t talk, and she definitely can’t tell any more lies.  Which she hates doing.   Unfortunately, Keira kept trying to play matchmaker and Jane had to make up a fictional boyfriend.  She knows Keira is going to ask her why she’s at the party alone, so she’s doing everything she can to avoid her.  This wasn’t supposed to happen, though.  Joseph Carter was supposed to be her fake boyfriend.  But he’s a no-show.  Jane knew he was too good to be true.  Ever since the handsome stranger introduced himself one morning (after asking why she just didn’t buy the cinnamon bun she clearly wanted), she’s been waiting for him to realize she isn’t worth his time.  When he offered to accompany her to the party, she was relieved but nervous.  She isn’t surprised he’s a no-show.  Jane doesn’t deserve a great guy like Joseph Carter.  Oh, Jane!

Oh, reader!  WHO IS JOSEPH CARTER?!  Well, I’m not going to tell you!  Let’s just say Clueless Em™ finished these opening chapters convinced a Very Bad Man somehow linked these three, but unsure if it was the same person.  And it took her way too long to realize Joseph and Carter are Joseph Carter!  You’re welcome.  But that’s all I’m going to say about him and this story.  Suffice it to say, there is a MAJOR plot twist and it completely caught me unawares.  Don’t try to guess; wait for it.  It’s excellent.

Fortunately, although I can’t tell you much about the plot, there are lots of other great bits.  If you like a clever story, this one is a banger.  If you aren’t afraid to cry, get your tissues handy.  And finally, the supporting cast is brilliant.  O’Leary loves great friendships, and Siobhan, Miranda, and Jane are supported by some of the best friends ever.  Their friends - their found families, really - are encouraging and loving, supportive and kind and good, and they add so much richness to this story.  These are the kind of people you want in your corner.

Wow, I wish I could tell you all about this book.  I can’t.  You just have to trust me.  It’s great.  One of the best of the year, and probably my favorite O’Leary book.  So far.

Buy it at: Amazon, Audible or your local independent retailer

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Reviewed by Em Wittmann
Grade : A
Book Type: Women's Fiction

Sensuality: Warm

Review Date : April 12, 2022

Publication Date: 04/2022

Review Tags: Contemporary romance

Recent Comments …

  1. What kept me reading was the sheer unpredictability of the storyline. I knew David’s and Chelsea’s paths would cross again…

Em Wittmann

I love romance novels - all kinds. I love music - some kinds. I have strong opinions about both and I like to share them.
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