Saturday 9 May 2015

Reviewed: Just The Way You Are by Lynsey James.

Just The Way You Are was published by Carina on May 8, 2015.

Thank you to Cara at Harlequin for inviting me to read and review this title on Netgalley.

I loved the cover, the synopsis, everything about Just The Way You Are before I even started. I was swooning over the whole idea of a secret admirer sending mysterious love letters, and that he was still persevering even if the last letter had been sent six years ago. Lynsey James’ debut novel felt really original and her writing is quite charming and really helped me immerse myself in the story straight away. I instantly felt connected to the protagonist Ava, as the way we’re introduced to her really gives her the chance to make an impression on the reader. Ava is bridesmaid at her mum’s wedding, a place she’s been six times before… Ava’s description of her mum’s seventh wedding, about her ex-husbands made me giggle at times, she had a great sense of humour to her. This set her character up well for the rest of the book because I already found that I cared about how things would work out.

We quite quickly learn about Mr Writer, and the anonymous love letters he had sent when Ava had been at University. Ava had found herself in love with someone she didn’t even know and had her heart broken when he stood her up on their first meeting, six years ago. When the letters start again, it’s easy to see how Ava fell for their charm. Her secret admirer had a lovely, romantic way with words and he says all the right things. This time, Ava, along with her best friends Max and Gwen, decide it’s time for her to work out who Mr Writer is, once and for all. I was excited to see how things would play out, who Mr Writer would reveal himself to be. I guess, early on, I felt a little under-awed. Not because I wasn’t enjoying the story, because I did for the whole book, but it was just so glaringly obvious who Mr Writer was. I couldn’t help but wonder why Ava and her friends seemed so oblivious to what was screaming out at me (and I’m assuming most other readers) just a chapter or two in to the story. I’m not sure if Lynsey set out to write it like that or not and I still found it interesting but it was kind of a different story to what I had been expecting, as the mystery was virtually non-existent.

Luckily for me, this book packed plenty of other stories inside to keep it entertaining. My favourite aspect of this novel, by far, was the sub-plot involving Ivy and her own search for love with Leo. Just like Ava, Ivy had her own unique experience in love and their stories worked well together. I loved Ivy’s character – she was so effervescent and had lots of spirit and energy, the kind of character you find yourself desperate to see with a happy ending, even when it seems unlikely. I also loved the dynamics Lynsey built up for Ava’s workplace, with the bitchiness and the one-upmanship and the drama. Each character there was strongly developed and there were some pretty funny things about to unfold, which took me by surprise, to say the least… If I’m honest, I liked reading about the characters where Ava worked more than Gwen and Max. I did like both Gwen and Max but they could turn so quickly, from being supportive and understanding to what felt to me like the complete opposite. I much preferred the friendship Ava had with Fran, and Fran was a great example of how the author created such strong stories for each minor character, so we could discover a lot about them and get involved in their lives, even if they weren’t seen that often.

Just The Way You Are is a debut novel and I think although it read like a debut, it was a promising and impressive first novel too. It was quite predictable and a bit cheesy at times but always entertaining. I liked Lynsey’s writing style and I was impressed with the detail she paid to character development and to the ending, which I loved for so many different reasons. Just The Way You Are is a heartwarming read for those searching for true love in amongst all the dating disasters – your Mr Right might just be out there making his way to you. I’m eager to read more from this author.

A feel-good, if predictable, contemporary romance with a difference. Lynsey’s writing style kept me captivated, right to the very end.


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