Good at Games
by Jill Mansell
Release date: January 5, 2016
Published by Sourcebooks Landmark
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jill Mansell captivates with a madcap tale of the games lovers play.
Who will make the next move?
How does one become accidentally engaged? That’s what Suzy Curtis thinks when she suddenly finds herself very publicly engaged to handsome Harry Fitzallan, local town hero. Harry wants famous rock star Jaz to be his best man—only he’s Suzy’s ex-husband and a recovering alcoholic. Suzy’s half sister Lucille loves getting to know the family she’d never met, but she can’t help her attraction to Jaz, nor can Suzy quash her entirely inappropriate feelings for Leo, Harry’s engaged brother!
With all these wild players at the table, mayhem is bound to ensue. As each new piece comes into play, everyone has more to lose, and the only way to win is if you’re good at the games of love…
Could there possibly be anything nicer in the world than a Curly Wurly?
Alone in the office, Suzy lovingly peeled off the wrapper and admired the dappled chocolate covering. Then she bit into it, her teeth sinking through the toffee, her head twisting from side to side in order to bite off that first heavenly mouthful…oh, and they were sooo much better straight from the fridge…
Suzy’s eyes snapped open and she spun around guiltily. Damn, she’d been so carried away she hadn’t even heard the door open and close behind her.
And, double damn, it had to be Leo Fitzallan.
“Bitten off more than you can chew?” inquired Leo with a slight smile.
Suzy’s mouth was full—OK, overfull—and the toffee was welding itself to her teeth like quick-setting cement. Waving her hand apologetically, praying the melted chocolate wasn’t about to spill out and dribble attractively down her chin, she chewed and swallowed, chewed and swallowed, threw the rest of the Curly Wurly onto her desk and chewed and swallowed again.
Oh dear, not at all like the girl in the Cadbury’s Flake ad. In fact, more like Waynetta Slob guzzling a pizza.
“Sorry,” said Leo. “I obviously interrupted a special private moment.”
And swallowed again.
Hooray, didn’t even dribble!
“There.” Suzy executed a quick curtsy. “All gone. Now, how can I help you?”
He was wearing Givenchy aftershave—none of your Tommy Hilfigers or Calvin Kleins for Leo Fitzallan, thank you very much—and an expensively cut dark suit. Suzy wondered if he had chosen the bottle-green shirt and blue and amber tie himself, or whether Gabriella had picked them out for him.
Probably Gabriella. A man who drove a gray Volvo would never be that adventurous. And the dark blue in the tie exactly matched his eyes.
“I thought maybe we should call a truce,” said Leo. “How does that sound to you?”
Blimey, Suzy thought, like a miracle. Quick, give the man a bottle of water and see if he can turn it into Chardonnay.
Aloud she said, “So what’s brought this on?”
“My brother’s happy with you. By Christmas you and I’ll be related. The last thing I want is a family feud. Easier all around if we bury the hatchet now,” Leo said easily. “Put the bickering behind us. What d’you say?”
He was even more attractive, Suzy realized, when he was in a good mood. During the last few days all he’d seemed to do was scowl, sneer, and generally radiate disapproval, which was sexy enough in its own way, of course, but it really was amazing the difference a few laughter lines could make.
“I agree.” Her mouth curled up at the corners. “That’s it then. From now on we’re going to be completely lovely to each other. And I’ll just have to find someone else to bicker with.”
“So long as it isn’t Harry,” said Leo.
“Harry isn’t the bickering kind.” Suzy smiled sunnily at him and perched on the edge of her desk. “This feels quite weird, actually. I’m not sure what we’re supposed to do now. If this were Friends we’d be giving each other a group hug.”
For a split second something indefinable flickered in Leo’s eyes. The next moment it had gone. He pushed his fingers through his ultra-straight dark hair, heaved a sigh and shrugged as if searching for inspiration.
This book was SO much run to read! A large cast of quirky characters, so many humorous situations, such very real conflicts…all working out to an HEA (for most of them) in the end. The pages practically flew by; it definitely didn’t feel as if it was more than 400 pages of reading!
I’ll try to keep this spoiler-free, so it might be a little sparse on the details.
I really liked Suzy; she was easy to relate to. A failed first marriage (she was way too young, he was way too famous–and an alcoholic; but they stayed friends and a now dried-up Jaz was another endearing character), loves chocolate but not too fond of exercise, leaves bottles of nail polish in random spots (you never know when you’ll want to put on a new coat, after all), she’s also on the curvy side so she feels a bit less-than some of the super-tiny, super-skinny characters. (She’s somewhat Bridget Jones-like without all the smoking and obsession over losing weight and dying alone. The humor and breezy writing style of this story is very similar.)
Suzy’s got a successful real estate career, though she does work for her workaholic older brother. Early on their mother has died, and just after the funeral Suzy and her siblings get quite a shock, one that changes pretty much everything they thought they knew about her up until that point. Suzy, the youngest in the family, had always yearned to be close to her mother but felt pushed away; early on the new development didn’t at all help but a later one finally gives her some closure.
Way too late to give her a good relationship with a living mum, but still…
Reasons for 4 rather than 5 stars: There is an awful lot of character head jumping–sometimes multiple POVs on a single page–that did take a bit to get used to. (ARC formatting on mobi files is also sometimes a bit “off”–the finished product might have a space or something between character shifts; that would make it a little easier.) There’s an awful lot of coincidences here (who ends up buying Suzy’s mother’s home, for example) and at least one very convenient plot device (how Suzy finds out about how her mother really felt about things) that remind the reader that this is, after all, fiction. The “good guys” get their HEA, and the “bad” ones end up with less-than.
But I’m not complaining. I had so much fun reading this one that it was pretty easy to overlook any minor criticisms and get lost in the fun of an entertaining story. Plus, she makes us wait to the LAST PAGE to see Suzy get her HEA–so keeping on reading was a must!
Rating: 4 stars / B+
I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.
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About the Author:
With over 10 million copies sold, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jill Mansell writes irresistible and funny, poignant and romantic tales for women in the tradition of Marian Keyes, Sophie Kinsella and Jojo Moyes. She lives with her partner and their children in Bristol, England.
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