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review 2018-11-11 19:06
Just....No. Things Fall Apart, the Center Does Not Hold
The One You Really Want - Jill Mansell

I want to kick something. This book didn't work at all, and the ending just cobbles together happy endings, that make zero sense when you read what has come before. I am all for happy endings in my romance books, but not with partners who come out of nowhere and or partners that have zero chemistry with the objects of their affection. I kept hoping Mansell would switch things up a bit and have Carmen and Nancy not do what is typical for these types of books, it just doesn't work. 


"The One You Really Want" has best friends Nancy and Carmen dealing with Christmas and changes to their lives. Nancy expected that her husband was buying her some fancy jewelry, instead she gets the surprise of her life when she finds out he has been having an affair. Carmen is still grieving the death of her rock star husband, three years later. When her brother-in-law comes to visit (and stay) for the holidays, she finds she is not going to be able to shut the world away anymore. 


I wish that Mansell had actually shown Nancy and Carmen hanging out solo more than she did. Instead we have Nancy working, dealing with her mother Rose, and crushing on Carmen's next door neighbor. I wish I had gotten a better sense of her character. She doesn't even care that her husband is cheating on her. She just pops smoke from Edinburgh to go and live with Carmen in her mansion in Chelsea. I don't know if I wanted her sobbing throughout the book, but she's not even grief stricken. And her mother and Carmen tell her how they never liked her husband anyway. 

Carmen's story jumped all over the place. She has three love interests in this book and the first one fails miserably and the second is ruined because she lies about her history and how much money she has. It made no sense to me, and I felt annoyed about it. The worst for me is that Mansell has you rooting on one of these guys for most of the book, and throws a third person in the ring for her and it didn't work at all. 


Carmen's brother-in-law Reenie did not read as realistic to me at all. He's a rockstar and has a new girl every day it seems, but it stretched realism that he was living with Carmen, Nancy, and Nancy's mom Rose and has zero friends it seems. 


Nancy's mother Rose was okay, but not that exciting a character.

We also get the next door neighbor Conner and his 16 year old daughter Mia. I didn't really like Conner and thought him not actually standing up for his daughter more due to his BS relationship was eye-roll inducing. I didn't get why Nancy even liked this guy. 


The setting of this book take place over Christmas. What's weird though is it doesn't read like a typical Christmas romance book. Also the book jumps ahead a few months here and there so I don't even know what month things ended on. It was summer I think. 


The ending was a bit of a mess. We have Carmen deciding to start a relationship I didn't root for at all and then she fades away from the book. We switch to Nancy and she gets her totally not realistic happy ending too. 


Winter Solstice / Yuletide (December 21): Read any book that takes place in December OR with ice or snow on the cover OR that revolves around the (summer or winter) equinox OR a collection of poetry by Hafez.

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review 2018-10-08 18:48
Cute Romance that Keeps Things Realistic
Thinking of You - Jill Mansell

I know I know. I usually give Mansell some grief, however, this one really works on all levels and I loved that Mansell didn't just give everyone a happy ending. She was quite realistic about some follow-ups with certain characters. I will say though, that this whole dude who didn't realize he wasn't the father of the child that was born plot reminded me a bit of one of her other books though. 


"Thinking of You" has Ginny Holland dealing with her empty nest after her daughter goes off to university. Ginny had her daughter Jem are very close. Ginny doesn't see how she is going to get through her days without her daughter coming home to her. After visiting Jem and meeting her new flatmates, Ginny realizes she is going to need something to do so that she doesn't ruin Jem's independence. Ginny takes on a new job waitressing and also rents a room out at her place.


Due to the room renting and new job, Ginny meets new people, Finn (her boss), Evie (runs the restaurant portion of the antiques store he runs), Laurel (her new lodger), and Perry (Laurel's brother). Up until now most of Ginny's life has revolved around Jem, her best friend Carla and her ex-husband Gavin. 


Mansell manages to juggle several story-lines throughout the book.


Ginny tries to start dating again and thinks that Perry would be the perfect guy. Though he has lying tosser written all over him, I did shake my head at how Perry was able to get women to do what he wanted. Ginny also finds her thoughts shifting to Finn and I liked how these two interacted together after their terrible meet-cute where Finn accuses her of being a shoplifter (I cracked up).


Ginny's ex-husband Gavin sounds like a total pain, but I laughed at all of his get your life together pep talks to Laurel (Ginny's lodger). Laurel was a hot mess though I laughed at her and her constant bringing up of her ex. 


I also really like that Mansell included Jem's third person POV. We do get to see how badly she is with things while she is away from home (falling for someone totally unsuitable) and how she starts to act towards her friends like Davy and Lucy. 


The writing was really good and at times very funny. I laughed out loud a few times with the banter between Gavin and Laurel as well as between Ginny and anyone else.


“But you were the one who came to see it! You said it was just what you were looking for!” Her voice rising—and not in an I-fancy-you way—Ginny said, “You said it was perfect!”

He blinked, nonplussed. “It is perfect. For Laurel.”

Frantically, Ginny ran back through everything he’d told her. “No, hang on, you said your flat was too small…”


"For ninety minutes now she had been listening to the Story of Kevin. Ninety minutes was the length of an entire film. She could have watched Anna Karenina and been less depressed."


I thought the ending was quite sweet, but was happy to see some foreshadowing that some relationships which were said to be fine, came to an end or almost an end by the epilogue. And I was very happy we didn't see Jem or Lucy thinking of their friend Davy beyond being friends. Most romances would have had one of the girls fall for him or something. 

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review 2018-08-13 19:21
Skip This Terrible Book
Falling for You - Jill Mansell

This will be short. This book is terrible.

The characters are not redeeming except for two of them (Maddy and Kerr) and if the book had stayed on just Maddy and Kerry I would have liked it more. Instead we have male characters calling female characters fat, ugly, and all kinds of crap. We get some ridiculousness when one character treats a woman separate from his girlfriend with respect (that is how you know he cares about her) and the constant bed hopping though people claimed to be in love with someone was it.

Usually Mansell can juggle multiple story-lines, she can't in this one. And I am realizing that most of her books follow the same formula and it's getting old. We usually get a woman who is in her 40s and widowed (Maddy's mother) a woman who can't seem to find a boyfriend or has a terrible one (Maddy's best friend) and then just random characters that flit in and out of the story. 


I didn't take any pleasure in the writing or flow since I just felt annoyed and wanted the book to get over with already. The ending was a big old shrug from me. 

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text 2018-08-09 19:51
Reading progress update: I've read 100%.
Falling for You - Jill Mansell

Appalling book.


You have heroes calling the heroines in this one fat to their faces and to strangers. One woman just puts up with her boyfriend treating her like crap, and when he gets with someone else is not nasty to her. It's implied because he really cares for the second woman, and only felt meh towards the first so that's okay that he was a misogynistic and nasty asshole. 


You have constant bed hopping (not that I care, but you can't root for a freaking couple that way when you know they just slept with someone else).


The why behind why the two leads can't be together is terrible. I just felt bad for them and wondered how they wandered into this appalling book. 


And a man blackmails his mistress into having no life and ughhh this whole book is awful.

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review 2018-08-06 20:11
Paint by Numbers Romance
You and Me, Always - Jill Mansell

This one just felt a bit off to me. Probably because I realized going in after being introduced to everyone, I knew who was going to pair off together. So I felt annoyed waiting through the whole book for the characters to figure it out themselves. It didn't help though that we get a random wrench thrown in this one (a character who makes a terrible mistake that impacts another) that didn't seem atypical for this character at all. The book was too fast in wrapping things up I thought. 


"You and Me, Always" deals with characters living and visiting Stanton Langley. Lily has been raised by a friend of her mother's Coral and her husband since her mother died when she was 8. Lily's two best friends, Patsy and Dan (brother and sister) have all known each other since they were babies. When Lily receives the last letter from her mother on her 25th birthday, it seems to be the kick she needed to get in contact with a man that her mother tells her was the love of her life (Declan). Lily also meets movie star Eddie (hiding out in Stanton Langley) and wonders if this is the man to get her over her decades long crush of Dan. 


Usually I think Mansell can juggle multiple characters well, but not in this one. I think it's because the stories were sometimes opposed to each other and it felt like we should just be reading stand-alones. We have Coral dealing with being a widow and starting to have feelings for Declan. I found it interesting, but it didn't gel well when we would bounce back to Lily and Patsy. The three women are not really in the same age group so it didn't feel right they were on top of each other so much and didn't seem to have other friends besides each other.


Patsy's marriage and bad dating woes were pretty hilarious, but I think Mansell jumped at her getting a HEA and didn't put in enough work for us to be rooting for her or her love interest.

I didn't really care about Lily and Eddie, they never did work for me.

The writing was typical Mansell, the flow could have been improved though. 

The setting of this village felt even tinier than I can imagine. Usually Mansell can have me imagine a place and I feel there, this just felt blah to me.

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