Friday, 7 February 2014

Review: The Unpredictable Consequences of Love - Jill Mansell

When Josh Strachan, newly returned to his home in north Cornwall from sunny California, first meets Sophie Wells, he's immediately smitten. Sophie's pretty, she's funny, she has lots of friends and she clearly loves her job as a photographer, despite the sometimes tricky clients. There's just one problem: Sophie has very firmly turned her back on love. It's nothing personal, she tells Josh, but she just doesn't do dates. And no one - even Sophie's scatty best friend Tula - will tell him why. Josh is sure Sophie likes him, though, and he's just got to find out what's put her off romance. And then put things right.

The eagle-eyed amongst you will notice that Jill Mansell's latest was featured prominently in my most anticipated reads of 2014 and, as I predicted, I greedily devoured it within 24 hours of release. Ooops...

By now Jill Mansell shouldn’t need an introduction for most of you and The Unpredictable Consequences of Love will not disappoint fans. Unpredictable has all the usual hallmarks of an enjoyable cozy read, set in a snug little village in Cornwall from the very first pages you are transported into the heart of the town and the lives of it’s inhabitants.

Following her usual pattern Mansell sets us up with two main characters, Sophie and Josh, but surrounds them with a whole host of secondary characters that we get to know as well as our hero and heroine. What I love most about Mansell is the knack she has for weaving together the multiple threads of her novels so that no character's story really seems peripheral and despite the large number of there is never any confusion over who’s who. 

The story is split between most of the characters POV at some point, although it falls primarily to Sophie, Josh, Tula and Riley. As a result the male characters are as well developed as the female and their motivations are as clear, something lacking in the majority of romance novels these days. In fact, it feels as though Josh steers a lot of the novel, something that I actually really enjoyed. Mansell's characters span all ages and situations, her characters are much more than the chocolate loving, depressed 30 somethings and the variety is what really helps her characters remain memorable. In the end I loved Tula, Riley, Marguerite, Dot and Lawrence as much as I did Sophie and Josh.

Sophie is a successful and independent photographer who's been burnt once before, her relationship with Josh blossoms from a strong friendship that was such fun to read, although for me, Tula and Riley were the main source of amusement in the novel. As always Mansell does tackle some difficult issues in her novel, and she handles them well. Topics that could turn the book twee, predictable and clich├ęd are dealt with empathy and heart, elevating the book from the ranks of the ordinary.

My only complaint, and it’s a teeny one at that, is with all the sunny weather in Cornwall the book didn’t feel all that seasonally appropriate and I got quite the weather envy (along with an unhealthy craving for Caramacs).

Mansell’s novels always end well, with all lose ends tied up and all the HEAs realized. You can always count on Mansell's books to completely cheer you up and warm your heart. Brit-lit at its absolute best I’d recommend her latest to anyone, with no hesitation, especially when accompanied by a cup of hot chocolate this chilly February.

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