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After receiving a recommendation from Becky at Crooks Books, I was intrigued about trying a Jill Mansell book. When one came up on Netgalley it felt like fate. As it turned out, Jill Mansell will be one of my new go-to chick lit authors for those days when I just want to relax on the beach with a good book! Mixed Doubles was drama-packed while still maintaining a casual, lively pace and realistic character development.
Love is always just around the corner in a Jill Mansell novel – with a few surprises and a lot of humour on the way to happiness
New Year is looming and best friends Liza, Dulcie and Pru are making their resolutions. Liza wants to get married – she’s never had any trouble hooking a man. The trouble is, she can never stay interested once she’s got him. Dulcie thinks marriage sucks. Her husband, Patrick, may be gorgeous and charming, but the impulsive Dulcie needs more excitement in her life. She wants a divorce. Pru loves her roving husband, and she secretly enjoys the periods when he’s making up for his outrageous behaviour. All she wants is to stay married. Liza, Dulcie and Pru have no idea what the New Year has in store – but Fate has some sneaky plans up her sleeve… (Goodreads).
What I loved about this novel was not only that it was character driven but Mansell managed to set a jaunty, casual pace throughout the entire book. Pacing is a huge factor in my enjoyment of a book! Spanning the time frame of a year, the story covered each character from multiple POV and was delightfully easy to read. There weren’t any instances where I felt myself zone out or become tired with the story, as can happen quite often to me with these types of books.
Mixed Doubles was a lively story that didn’t fail to completely shatter my heart near the end. It’s still a HEA but Mansell doesn’t seem inclined to hold back any while getting there. It was full of dramatic, yet realistic moments that picked up the pace consistently throughout the book. The only down side to that I found was one character (Dulcie) was responsible for majority of the drama – quite believably so, with her personality – yet I found myself quite disliking her for it. The book relied on her dramatic tendencies just a tad too much in my opinion and the story would have been better if she’d behaved more considerately toward others.
The other main characters, Pru and Liza were delightful to read about though and more than compensated for my dislike of Dulcie. Themes such as age gap relationships, dating after the loss of a loved one and second chance romances were explored. I adored how each character spoke to a different form of loving relationship and the book overall was a supportive take on how love is not only present in one shape or form, nor should it be.
Things weren’t easily fixed in this book and I really enjoyed how Mansell covered the ‘all you need is love’ aspect of a relationship. Rather than rely on love being the solution to all things, she explored how despite love being present some relationships just don’t work. At least not until underlying issues are dealt with. It was a decidedly honest, authentic approach to a chick-lit novel and made the endings seem realistic. I totally bought the final HEAs as the characters had genuinely had to work for them!
I’ll definitely be reading more by this author in the future!