14 October 2012

Behaving Like Adults


When I picked up this book to read, I wasn't really sure what it was about and I didn't bother reading the jacket copy. I knew it would be chick lit, you can tell that by the cover. And I enjoy the genre. In fact, I've been so immersed in paranormal the last couple of years I've come to crave contemporary stories, be they chick lit or straight out romance.

The way I see it, there are two varieties of chick lit. You have the fluffy stories with the silly young heroine who goes through life making a series of funny mistakes which often lead to hijinks and misunderstandings. Usually she grows a little as a person, though sometimes over the course of a series she never seems to really learn anything (yes, I'm talking about you, Rebecca Bloomwood).

Then you have the stories that still include a lot of humor but have a little more depth to them, a heavier subject matter, and a heroine who faces real and serious adversity (not to belittle addiction to shopping since that can certainly cause real and serious problems for people, so don't glare at me Becky). The heroines in these stories definitely grow as a person, and often do some soul searching along the way.

Behaving Like Adults falls into the second category. Holly is 29, fun and breezy, and loves love. She owns and operates a dating agency, where her life's work is to make perfect matches for other people. She and her long time fiancee, Nick, bought a house together but never actually set a wedding date, and after breaking up, are still living together (though sleeping in separate rooms) in that same house three months later.

When Holly dips her own toes into the dating world, she goes out with Stuart, who has applied to the dating agency and seems on paper to be too good to be true. And sure enough, he's a caddish jerk and the date is a bust. But when Holly needs a date for an agency event, she gives Stuart a second chance. And that second date turns into a nightmare that leaves Holly questioning the validity of love, the goodness of the human race, and doubting her abilities and instincts for matchmaking. I'm not going into detail about that date, but if you read further you are likely to figure it out, so be warned that this could be a SPOILER ALERT.

There is a great supporting cast in Holly's sisters and friends. As Holly sank deeper and deeper into her own thoughts and began pulling away from socializing, work and her friends, there were times where I sort of wanted to shake her and say “Talk to them! Tell someone about what that jerk did to you!” But she has a hard time believing that she didn’t bring her problems onto her self and putting the blame on Stuart rather than just on herself.

The narrative is in the first person from Holly's point of view, but the author does a good job of conveying the supporting character's personalities, so you feel as if you get to know them pretty well and know what they are thinking and feeling also.

There was just one tiny niggling detail that bothered me. Twice there is reference to calling 911. But do they use 911 in England? I thought the emergency services number there was 999 or something like that. Did the publisher's change it to 911 for us ignorant American readers? If so, I'm insulted.
Towards the end of the book, I cried. Literally. That doesn't happen very often when reading a book. I am definitely be adding Anna Maxted to my list of authors whose back lists I need to hunt down and read.

(I bought this book new. Because the cover jumped out at me.)

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