Sunday, September 18, 2011

Review of Cate Lord's Lucky Girl

Title: Lucky Girl
Author: Cate Lord
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Format: Trade Paperback & eBook
Source: NetGalley
Publication Date: September 6, 2011
Rating: 2 out of 5

This contemporary romance is billed as a Bridget Jones-type chick lit book, and its description made it sound like a fun read. Unfortunately, Lucky Girl was painful to read. In fact, I almost didn’t finish it, because I found the heroine to be incredibly annoying. I’m glad that in the end I did finish the book, because the writing definitely improves halfway in, but that improvement was not enough to save the book.
The female protagonist of the novel is Jess Devlin, 29 years old and recovering from a nasty break-up. Her ex-fiancĂ© Stan cheated on her, and she’s planning a vacation to England for her British cousin’s wedding in an attempt to move on for good. When she gets there, she runs into Nick Mandinello, local hunk and playboy, whom she met under embarrassing circumstances two years before. She’s still attracted to Nick but can’t believe he would be interested in a “chubby” yank. I put the “chubby” in parentheses, because judging from men’s reactions to her in the book, she’s actually got a great figure.
The problems with this novel are twofold. First, the author depends far too heavily upon telling the reader what's going on inside Jess's head in this first half of the novel, so much so that you might not make it to the second half. Jess spends so much time thinking about how unattractive she is and the unflattering way she and Nick met that my mind started to wander. Very little seems to happen in this first half, and there are several missed opportunities to interest us in Jess’s character and that of the supporting cast. Jess’s time at the wedding is spent wallowing in misery because she’s not getting married and thinking about how fat she is in the unattractive bridesmaid dress. Through Jess’s point of view we are told about events that happened in the past, when it would have been far more effective to have seen these events in flashback, mainly because it would have broken up the long descriptive passages with action and dialogue. The novel clearly improves with the second half when Jess begins to interact with her cousins and Nick. Instead of having to read interior monologues describing the situations Jess encounters, we actually see her acting and speaking with the others. This also improves the pacing of the novel, which is a plus.
All of this leads to the second problem with the book. Jess is supposed to be a slightly insecure career woman who lusts after hottie Nick, but she comes across as shallow, narcissistic, and whiny. Part of this has to do with the poor pacing and frequent interior monologues in the first part of the book. Jess does too much thinking and far too little acting in the first half. She becomes much more likeable in the second half, but her actions seem focused on giving makeovers to her cousins and hoping Nick will pay attention to her, instead of acting to ensure that he notices her. She’s a very passive character, and that, coupled with her constant whining, makes her hard to like.
In short, this novel was supposed to be a modern Bridget Jones’ Diaries, and it has many similarities, including a “big misunderstanding” at the end that parallels the other book. Unfortunately, the writing is not up to par and the female protagonist mediocre, so I can’t recommend this one.

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