I picked up a digital copy of this back in June of 2014. I never got around to reading it because it never caught my attention as well as it did when I first bought it. However, when I needed a book to kickstart my reading, as usual, I went to my Goodreads account and sorted by shortest to longest and this was one of the shorter novels on the list.
I think what I actually enjoyed about this novel is that it reminded me of the Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks movie You’ve Got Mail (IMDb link). You can see more at this blog post by The Bennet Sisters talking about it as a pseudo-adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. You’ve got the scrappy upstart (Social Work student in this case) in Beth Ann Bennet and the rich haughty Dr. William Darcy (who does have a charitable streak) and the rest sort of plays out very similarly.
Instead of meeting in a chat room, this couple meets through an internet dating site. Instead of going to various places in New York, they go to various places in Chicago, and instead of them fighting over books, they fight over psychology and access to healthcare.
I found that Brant did a great job of writing about Beth Ann’s single parenthood and her struggles to take care of her child while simultaneously holding down a job and pursuing a degree in Social Work. This one particular line got me:
“These were people who ate spaghetti by choice, not because it was cheap. Must make all the difference in the world having it served by a five-star chef in a Florentine villa.” (Loc. 1,804)
I didn’t realize this was a thing until I was in my mid-20s. Growing up we’d eat spaghetti (or s’ghetti as we’d call it) at least once a week. Twice if you counted leftovers. By the time I got to college, we’d eaten it so frequently I had a passionate dislike of spaghetti, so much so that I didn’t eat it for six or seven years. Once I got my first real full-time job I started to connect the dots that a lot of the meals we ate growing up were “poor people” meals because they were inexpensive and made quite a bit of food. It also explains why Spaghetti Dinners are such an all-star when it comes to fundraising. Now, thanks to my education, drive and progression in my career I can actually attest that there is a difference between home-made spaghetti and spaghetti in a Tuscan restaurant in Italy because I’ve actually eaten it ;-D
In general, the book was a good read, but there were quite a few editing issues that I wasn’t aware of until I connected the dots that this was a self-published book. I don’t have the best luck with self published books, but I do read them occasionally. The biggest problem I’ve found, by far, is the lack of competent editing. Sometimes it’s formatting issues, but usually it’s the editing. From redundant passages and incomplete sentences to characters changing names or misspellings of commons words it’s amazing what you will come across in a self published book. I’m not saying traditional publishers don’t make their mistakes (DARBY!), but when it comes to the actual story and making sure it flows and is concise, traditional publishing wins hands down. That being said, it wasn’t enough to scare me off from the second novel in this “series,” Pride, Prejudice and the Perfect Bet. Mostly because I was hoping to find out what happened to the characters!
Recommendation: You could probably pass on this one unless you REALLY liked You’ve Got Mail AND are an Austen fanatic. If that’s the case then definitely read it, if not go find a better modernization.
Opening Line: “Beth Ann Bennet typed ‘male’ in the box that indicated which gender she was seeking.”
Closing Line: “Then she immediately headed home to embrace her new one.” (Whited out to avoid spoilers, highlight to read.)