Just The Way You Are
by Lynsey James
Published: 8th May 2015
Publisher: UK Carina
How do you start writing a letter to someone, six years after breaking their heart?
Ava is unlucky in love as well as in life. The new office bitch has landed the dating column Ava wanted, and she can’t remember the last time she had a second date. It’s a good thing she has best friends Max and Gwen to pick up the pieces.
Deep down, Ava knows the reason why one date never turns into two – she’s in love with someone else. Someone she’s never even met.
It all started six years ago, with a letter from a secret admirer, Mr Writer…but then they suddenly stopped and Ava was heartbroken.
Now the letters have started again and Ava knows it could mean winning back the dating column at work. This time she’s determined to unmask Mr Writer…and find out once and for all if he’s Mr Right or Mr Very Definitely Wrong!
I’d like to quickly thank the lovely people at Carina UK via Netgalley for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. It’s also a privilege to say I recently connected with the author, and I will offer an unbiased review of her work. I must say, I felt nervous before I began reading because it’s always hard writing constructive or negative reviews, and is especially more so if it came to someone you would now consider a friend. Thankfully, within the first few pages my qualms were diminished and I fell in love with the story and the characters.
When I first downloaded this novel to my iPad, I was struggling quite a bit with a reading slump. I’d had trouble sitting still and engaging with what I was reading, but before the end of the first chapter I was hooked. My initial thought was that the protagonist’s voice stood out to me. Ava is very funny, quick witted and a little cheeky. I love a character that can hold a bit of banter and has a bit of a sarcastic, dry sense of humour. For me it made the character more relatable, which is I think what I’ve been missing lately.
In terms of supporting characters, I felt each had a distinctive voice and personality. Nobody really slumped into the background and I could picture them all in my head, which again, meant that I felt I was a part of the group and eager to find out what happened to each of them. Ava’s best friend and flat mate is Gwen, who is very confident and not afraid to go after what she wants. This character works well in relation to the protagonist because at times I felt she needed someone to give her a kick up the arse, and this character provides that kind of support.
Max is an absolute dream and a very good candidate for book boyfriend of the year so far. He is also very close friends with Ava and at first I’d assumed he’d be gay because that seems to be the overdone trope. I was grateful to see he wasn’t as he has an awful girlfriend with a “personality of a cabbage”. He really is a loveable character, very warm and comforting. He is one of the stand outs along with Ava and another character, Ivy St Clar.
Sometimes I feel that I go on for too long about characters, but I feel they are what drives the story for me, even more than the plot. Now saying that, I was very interested in where this story would end up. As you can see from the blurb, Ava is receiving letters again from a mystery man, known to them as Mr. Writer. I was dying to hear who it would be and the journey searching for him was brilliant. I particularly liked the reminiscing of bad dates, and the awkward interactions on her way to finding him. These were hilarious and either had me in stiches or gasping at the audacity. My heart was warmed by Ivy St Clar’s story – I thought it was touching and I was engrossed until the very end. The ending was exactly how I wanted it to be, and the road to that surprised me at times as it went places I didn’t expect it to go. I appreciated that I couldn’t predict what would happen.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and the wonderful characters. It came to me at a time when I needed it, and it was a breath of fresh air. Lynsey James has a flare for writing captivating characters, and has produced a wonderful debut novel. I’m looking forward to seeing more from her in the future.
Recommended for those that want all the feels!