Take a Chance on Me is the latest novel from Jill Mansell and reading this book was, for me, like slipping on your favourite pair of trackie pants (you know, the ones you would never be seen dead wearing in public). Warm, familiar and comforting.
And it’s just the kind of easy, predictable chick-lit that cries out to be read curled up on the couch (preferably wearing the afore-mentioned trackie pants) on a cold and rainy day.
Cleo Quinn is the main protagonist in this story. A 29 year old limo driver, Cleo still lives in the same village, in fact the same cottage, where she grew up. Happy enough, she is close to her older sister Abbie, hangs out with her best friend and neighbour Ash and really does enjoy her job.
What Cleo really craves though is, well, a man. More than that really. A nice, decent, attentive and gorgeous man. One who loves her. Not too much to ask really. And, finally, Cleo thought she’d found him. But as she gets more involved, she realises there might be more to Will than meets the eye.
As Cleo frets over her love life, her sister Abbie’s life is also about to implode – as secrets past and present come to light, can her marriage to Tom survive?
Quiet village life is also disrupted by several new arrivals. And no-one’s life will ever be quite the same as they are each touched by a new friend. One of these is the world famous sculptor Johnny LaVenture – also better known as Cleo’s childhood tormentor. Having grown up in the village Johnny moved away to make his mark on the art world, but has returned to the family home after the death of his father.
Throughout her teenage years Cleo was mercilessly teased by Johnny and his gang, and to her absolute horror he’s back, still using the humiliating nicknames she’d almost forgotten and making Cleo feel as though she’s sixteen again.
But life has a way of turning around, and sometimes the things that have haunted your past can light the way of your future.
This novel is warm, humorous, romantic and entirely enjoyable. It is at times a little predictable, but moves along at a rapid enough pace to keep you interested in what’s happening to all the characters. The characters are real enough, genuine enough, to make you want to be their friend (and hang out with them at the Hollybush) and hope that things really do work out for them.
Available now: Hachette RRP$32.99