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Just Saying: An absolutely perfect and feel-good romantic comedy Paperback – June 30, 2020
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- Paperback : 342 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1838881328
- ISBN-13 : 978-1838881320
- Publisher : Bookouture (June 30, 2020)
- Dimensions : 5.06 x 0.86 x 7.81 inches
- Item Weight : 11.9 ounces
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #102,534 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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“Just Saying” was a cracking good read for me. Ms. Ranald has captured the angst of a set of mid-twenty somethings as they try to establish themselves in their lives and careers. The books is set in London with a varied and interesting cast of characters. It was just the change of pace I was looking for. While this is billed as being humorous, do not expect over the top wacky humor. There were some scenes that made me smile or even chuckle. However, this book also tackles real life problems that are not humorous.
Alice Carlisle is the book’s narrator. She’s almost finished her two-year qualification period (apprenticeship it seems) at a large law firm in the City of London. She and her boyfriend Joe, who also in the process of qualifying as a solicitor, are now living together in a tiny flat. Their days in the office are long. However, they have both almost finished their qualification time. Luckily, for them, their firm has offered them permanent positions.
Then, enter Zoe. She is an ex-girlfriend of Joe’s. He has offered to rent her their spare bedroom. In part to help her out, in part to make-up for lost income when Alice loses her job. That is the lift-off point for the drama. It sets off Alice’s insecurities, and puts a damper on her relationship with Joe.
After being let go from her firm, Alice starts working at a rundown neighborhood pub. The quirky characters start entering the scene. Think episodes of ‘Cheers’. It felt similar to that in a good way. Alice starts to modernize the place in small ways, and brings in more customers. Thankfully, the long-standing manager, Shirley, doesn’t mind Alice’s changes. Passion for the pub engulfs Alice. She works hard to make it prosper.
Along the way, there is drama, and the introduction of some relevant social issues. There are light-hearted gatherings, and quirky characters that made me care about them. I really liked this book. As the story developed, I kept telling myself that I knew exactly how it was going to end. I was wrong. It ended completely differently than I had imagined. The clever ending made me smile as I finished the last sentence.
I would recommend this for readers who enjoy contemporary romance, or those who like a good British immersion in London and its environs. Just be aware that there were a lot of British words or sayings that I either had to look up, or guess the meaning of based on the context of the sentence. I grew to like the cast of characters, and the challenges they faced. While there was less humor than I expected, the humor lightened the storyline in just the right places. It was a nice change of pace from usual fare of psychological thrillers, or historical fiction.
‘Thank-You’ to NetGalley; the publisher, Bookouture; and the author, Sophie Ranald, for providing a free e-ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews
Genre: Humour, Romance,
My first Sophie Ranald read, and what fun it was. I really enjoyed this, laughed at parts and had tears at others. Its a very apt book with the #metoo still causing notice, and of course stories from the Windrush generation. .
I loved Alice, she was like so many people I know, internalising hurts, showing one face to the world while feeling very different inside. I think what I found so, so sad was her reaction to what happened, to blaming herself for not doing anything to stop it. That doesn't make her complicit, its a natural reaction to shock, and yet still something used as a defence far too often. Victim blaming – despicable defence.
When Alice met Joe it was a perfect match. Joe is wonderful, solid, dependable, a true support to Alice, and when she loses her job and starts at the pub he's very supportive. It means though that their work hours conflict and they see little of each other, just at the time their new, gorgeous lodger, Zoe, Joe's ex, the girl he says he loved and broke his heart, has moved in. Zoe is stunningly attractive, a great chef, and Joe loves to cook. Alice enjoys eating but cooking isn't her thing. Slowly it feels like its Joe and Zoe, rather than Joe and Alice, she's always there, laughing with Joe over their shared past, reminiscing over old mates, singing along as they cook, and of course enjoying the garden. The one Joe and Alice had such plans for but never found the time to do so. Poor Alice, Joe assures her they're just friends when she moves in, but its hard seeing that toned body parading around in sexy, skimpy nightwear. Does she want Joe back ? That's what Alice fears, and feels “less” in comparison to the gorgeous, talented Zoe.
Then there's the pub ( and that picture – I could just visualise it!! I loved Shirley's poem too, Princess Diana has that reaction for some people...). There's Alice's brother Drew, her best friend Heather, landlady Shirley and the locals, and of course handsome Archie, who owns the craft brew shop next door to the pub. They all form a tale that's is cleverly woven together, along with a secret burden poor Alice has been carrying for far too long. Its a fabulous read, well written, paced out just right and
Stars: Five. A great read. Has a perfect blend of romance and jealousy, topical issues, things that affect real people, us with our imperfect lives. And of course a HEA, a romance isn't right without that for me.
Arc via netgalley and publishers
That being said, I did not like this book. I feel that the description (which I hope will be changed before actual publication) was for a different book than the one I actually read. Several of the character traits didn't fit, the attitude of the characters didn't fit. This wasn't a romance, and it wasn't a comedy. It was cringe worthy at best. And a perfect example of why ONE single little honest conversation can fix a LOT of problems.
I honestly can't think of anyone I would recommend this book to, and I am confused at the number of high ratings for it as it is.
Top reviews from other countries
I genuinely struggled to put this book down and I'm looking forward to rereading soon as I'm sure I've missed bits in my rush to find out what happens to Alice and her friends.
In my opinion, there were too many storylines in this book, which didn’t really come together; I would’ve liked to see much more of the Alice/Joe/Zoe love triangle, as opposed to the (quite frankly) boring storyline of Alice trying to save the pub that she finds herself working at. I admire the attempt to address current issues (for instance sexual assault in the workplace) but I think they could have been dealt with a bit better as everything felt rushed to me.
The three stars are given for the actual writing, but overall this was not the story that I expected to read from the very misleading blurb.