'Irrepressible You' by Georgina Penney (Recommended Read)
*A copy of this book was supplied by Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review*
You don't become a notorious British celebrity without rubbing a few people the wrong way, which is why writer and comedian Ben Martindale has decamped to Australia until the latest media frenzy dies down. When he meets Amy Blaine, a perky blonde who dresses like a 1950s pin-up girl, he knows he's hit the satirical jackpot. He begins to fill his weekly London column with snarky observations about her life, clothes, and even their most intimate moments. It doesn't occur to him that Amy, who is letting her guard down for the first time in her adult life, might be upset - after all, it's hilarious, and his readers love her! It isn't until Amy discovers the extent of his betrayal that Ben begins to realise just how badly he's cocked up the best thing that ever happened to him. But is it too late?
'Irrepressible You' was just downright fabulous: fast-moving, original, sassy, paced, suspenseful. The characters leaped from the page with their quirky individualism and colour. Amy was adorable: fun. warm, motherly, professional, and yet at times, infuriating. Ben too, was a stand-out with a Bridget Jones blend of 'cynical wag Daniel Cleaver meets insufferably arrogant but good-hearted Mark Darcy'. The secondary characters hovered around these two, adding more colour and light and yet in the small space allowed them, stood alone on their own merits; I can't help feeling we'll see more of the furtive Scott and the enigmatic Myf.
But down to the story line. I wonder whether some reviewers will be hard on the protagonists in this conflict, particularly on Ben. Having your hero secretly writing published international comedy at your heroine's expense is risky, to say the least, particularly when he's pigheadedly defensive about his right to do it. I loved it. There wasn't a page when I didn't wonder how on earth an HEA was going to be carved out of this story. The suspense about whether Ben would be uncovered and undone stayed with me the whole way through, but I won't go into this any further.
I loved the refreshing, gutsy conflict and the less than perfect human beings at the centre of this story. I loved that it wasn't safe and that the protagonists weren't on the short list for canonisation. I loved that it didn't try and move the main characters towards a personality lobotomy to resolve that conflict. Some may say that Ben is just a jerk who doesn't deserve Amy - I don't agree. For me, Amy was forged in the fires of a crap childhood. Sure she's lovable, but she's also as tough as old boot leather as well as being intractably stubborn and stuck in her own quirky, matronly ways. Her saving grace is that she's smart enough to sense something in the emotionally constipated Ben that's deep-down decent, affectionate and dog-loyal. If anyone can keep the irrepressible Ben on a short leash it will be the irrepressible Amy.
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