Need a February feelgood fix? The thinking girl’s chick-lit conjuror Jill Mansell always has a few clever tricks up her sleeve to chase away the winter blues.
Her warm, wise and winsome novels are a creative balancing act, juggling laughter and tears, triumph and tragedy, romance and comedy, and all with perfect precision.
Don’t Want to Miss a Thing is Mansell’s 25th book in almost as many years and the cosy but not cloying, smart but not cynical plotlines keep on flowing with the same addictive enthusiasm and relaxed charm.
Mansell is without doubt a ‘people person’ and it is her eclectic cast of lovable, believable characters that drive the stories and make every new book seem like a chance to meet new friends.
Top dog this time around is 28-year-old Dexter Yates who loves his fun, carefree London life. He has money, looks and as for women, he loves the thrill of the chase but finds that once caught, a girl quickly loses her appeal.
The only time he really fell in love was when he met his older sister Laura’s newborn baby daughter Delphi eight months ago.
But everything changes overnight when Laura dies suddenly, leaving Dex as guardian of the now motherless, fatherless Delphi. How is he ever going to cope?
Forsaking his yellow Porsche for a more practical Mercedes Estate, Dex quits his job and moves to ‘Gin Cottage,’ his country home in the beautiful Cotswold village of Briarwood, a much better place to work on his parenting skills.
Before long he’s a new Dex... changing nappies, fully au fait with home safety and first aid, and pretty close to knowing how to put together a lentil bake.
Helping out is next door neighbour Molly Hayes, a professional comic-strip artist who has always been a ‘bad picker’ when it comes to men, but can still recognise that Dex falls into the ‘Utterly Dangerous’ category.
And both of them are fully aware that there is an undeniable frisson between them. However, if Dexter is going to properly adapt to village life, he first has a lot to learn about Molly, about other people’s secrets... and, most of all, about himself.
Don’t Want to Miss a Thing sees Mansell on top form with an extra special rom-com that is fun, funny and, true to form, utterly magical.
(Headline Review, hardback, £14.99)