If you’re American and maybe even if you consider yourself a serious fan of romantic fiction, you might be saying: Jill Who? Jill Mansell. She’s been a bestselling writer of romantic comedy in the UK for quite a while now and the 11 that I’ve read are probably only half of what she’s written. She is constantly on the UK lists and I think she might finally be making her mark in the States. I was trying to think earlier as to who her American equivalent would be and the only one I could come up with was Jennifer Crusie who is nowhere near as prolific as any of her fans wish she could be.
Jill Mansell’s novels combine just the right amount of romance and comedy to immerse you pleasurably in another world and if you are susceptible, you’ll be smiling (or a little teary) the entire time.
You and Me, Always opens on Lily’s birthday with her receiving a breakfast tray from her adoptive mother, Coral, and a letter from her late mother, Jo, wishing her a happy birthday. Every year since her mother died, Lily has received such a letter, but this time Jo mentions the surname of the love of her life and Lily decides to reach out to him.
On the same day, her best friend, Dan, a handsome, teasing philanderer, realizes that he lost an envelope containing a birthday gift for his sister, Patsy, at her house and asks Lily to retrieve it for him since he’s about to make an international flight (he’s a pilot). Lily makes up an excuse to Patsy to get a key to her place, but Patsy is acting weird and won’t have any part of it. So, Lily picks the lock and finds a strange man inside and she threatens to call the police.
“Her hands had suddenly started shaking. She’d never actually dialed 999 before, and now she’d pressed 666 by mistake, which was probably the number you called when you needed an emergency exorcism.”
It turns out that the intruder is none other than Eddie Tessler, famous actor and screenwriter, who has run away from London because of a scandal that he really had no part in. His presence is supposed to be a secret, but as the novel unfolds, so does the secret.
While I’d love to share more details, I’m not certain I could finesse it enough without giving plot points away.
In her later books, it seems that Mansell writes about a cast of characters, much like the movie Love, Actually, with it varied plots woven together. You and Me, Always is like that so if you aren’t a fan of multiple characters and plots, consider yourself warned.
I know that readers of romance are a wide and varied group. Some like chaste romances with no hint of impropriety, others like it down and dirty, and others (but maybe this group is all-inclusive?) like the swoon. Swoon? It’s this: it’s when a romance (novel, movie, tv) has been built up to a level and then the characters have that kiss and you think: wow…swoon. After the swoon anything can happen, but if the author has managed to create that moment, it can almost be worth the whole novel (movie, tv show). In You and Me, Always, the swoon moment is there in all of its glory (happy dance).
I’m giving this one 5 butterflies because it made me laugh, had me a bit teary, had a swoon, and it made me forget that there was an outside world for the entire time that I read it. Not once did I feel let down.
Heat rating: hinted–but there was the swoon; it’s up to you how you interpret that.
You and Me, Always is going to be published on July 5, 2016.
I received an arc from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
From Amazon: You and Me, Always .
rating: (5 out of 5 butterflies)