‘The Ex-Factor’ is Laura Greaves’ second published novel, the second one of hers I’ve read, and the second one I’ve loved. It tells the story of soft-hearted dog wrangler, Kitty Hayden, who finds herself on the ‘doing’ end of a slap across the cheek of Mitchell Pyke, Hollywood heart-throb, mega-star, and one-off kicker of a dog in her care at a film shoot (by accident!).
From this point Kitty and Mitchell begin an ill-fated love affair that in any other situation ie minus the Hollywood hype, the jealous supermodel ex-girlfriend and the unrelenting paparazzi, would have been your garden variety ‘forever love’ kind of guy-gal get-together. Unfortunately, that’s not the case for Kitty and Mitchell. Even though they’re a pair of gorgeous down-to-earth characters, the blaze of the celebrity spotlight and the personal baggage they bring to their relationship is eventually too much for them. Running deeper than the plot line though is the theme of communication: how important it is, how we take it for granted, how we so often get it wrong, and how destructive it can be when we do.
Laura Greaves writes in the first person, wholly from the perspective of her main protagonist, in this case, Kitty. It gives her story-telling a seat-of-the-pants, white knuckle feel as she takes her reader through a rollicking, often funny, often poignant ride through the lives of her characters.
There’s a very human touch to the colourful characters in this story: good old dependable best friend Adam, zany sister Frankie (who almost steals the show), enigmatic body guard Mack, quirky dog-owner Martha, and a host of appalling corporate media personalities who you get the feeling might have leapt right out of Laura Greaves’ past. Sometimes the human touch is so authentic that the main characters in her stories provoke me to a point where I want to strangle them. This is particularly so when Kitty decides that revenge and a much-needed financial windfall is the best policy when it comes to Mitchell. But given that few of us qualify for sainthood, I love the true to life fallibility of this author’s main characters and her honesty in bringing them to life. I just wish her male protagonists weren’t quite so gorgeous given the wringer she puts them through at the hands of her gals.
For readers who love a true to life, often heart wrenching rom-com about everyday people finding themselves in extraordinary situations I highly recommend The Ex-Factor.