Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Review: It Felt Like a Kiss - Sarra Manning

Ellie manages a swank Mayfair gallery, but it’s her life that’s a real work of art. Great job, really good hair, loyal friends, loving family. It’s only her succession of lame duck boyfriends that ruin the picture. 
Oh, and the world-famous rock-star father she’s never met, who won’t even acknowledge her existence. 
Then Ellie’s perfect life is smashed to pieces when her secret is sold to the highest bidder and her name, face (and pictures of her bottom) are splashed across the tabloids. Suddenly everyone thinks she’s a gold-digging, sex-crazy, famewhore. 
Enter David Gold. Charming and handsome David Gold. On paper he’s even more perfect than Ellie, if only he wasn’t her father’s ruthlessly ambitious lawyer whose job is to manage the crisis – and her. He certainly doesn’t think that Ellie’s the innocent party and she doesn’t trust him at all. So why is it that every time they’re alone together, damage limitation is the last thing on their minds?

New favourite author alert! Brit-lit (as I like to call it) has been going from strength to strength recently and I am so pleased to be discovering new authors to add to my hallowed hall of "favourite reads". Whilst Sarra Manning isn't a new author, she's new to me and I love finding someone that I love who has a whole back catalogue for me to devour.

Almost instantly I knew I was going to love Sarra Manning and Ellie, the heroine of It Felt Like a Kiss. The book opens with Ellie and her flatmates dissecting the male species over food and drinks and I immediately felt like one of the gang. Throughout the novel, Ellie's charm comes from the fact that, perfect hair aside, her character and attitude to life is so relatable. Ellie's story takes off when her whole life is suddenly splashed across the daily papers and she struggles with reconciling her new notoriety with her old, peaceful life. Manning really makes you feel for Ellie and I instantly wanted to get involved and have my say in how she should react to the situation.

The book, like so many these days, also features snippets of another story, easily discernible with its shorter entries appearing in a different font. This background, padding if you will, to Ellie's story is essential and relatively unobtrusive so it didn't really hamper my enjoyment at all, although it didn't really catch me either. Ellie is definitely the focus of the novel, surrounded by the usual host of supporting characters including a particularly charming set of family and close family friends. Even David appears almost secondary, his character is not given nearly as much attention as Ellie and this could lead to some difficulty in finding his character all that agreeable, although Manning manages to flesh him out just enough for the reader to be able to sympathise with his nature.

Having said that the real strength of the novel is that Ellie and David's chemistry is palpable and practically sizzles of the page. Looking back, the novel actually takes place over a mere two week period and yet Manning does an enviable job of turning that dreaded 'insta-love' into a great relationship that had me convinced they'd known each other forever. Whilst David's distrust of Ellie and her motivations could get a little annoying it really added to his character and his development throughout; I really found myself warming to him by the end of the novel. The adversity between the two, whilst not quite at Elizabeth and Darcy levels, adds some wonderful sexual tension and will really keep you gripped until the very last.

Manning's novel definitely presents some interesting issues, including a particularly enjoyable, well developed and understated commentary on society's continuing insistence on gendered hypocrisy and slut-shaming.

Charming and amusing with that little added depth, It Felt Like a Kiss is all that is good about the chick-lit (or should that be Brit-lit?) genre today. A great little read that has me itching to read more of Manning's work.

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