Here’s Looking At You – Mhairi McFarlane

What to expect:
Anna Alessi – history expert, possessor of a lot of hair and an occasionally filthy mouth – seeks nice man for intelligent conversation and Mills & Boon moments.
Despite the oddballs that keep turning up on her dates, Anna couldn’t be happier. As a 30-something with a job she loves, life has turned out better than she dared dream. However, things weren’t always this way, and her years spent as the ‘Italian Galleon’ of an East London comprehensive are ones she’d rather forget.
So when James Fraser – the architect of Anna’s final humiliation at school – walks back into her life, her world is turned upside down. But James seems a changed man. Polite. Mature. Funny, even. People can change, right? So why does Anna feel like she’s a fool to trust him?

This is the author’s second book, following You Had Me At Hello, and although the titles don’t stick in my head, the covers are eye catching. On to the stories, which are marvellous:

Kooks for your Kindle?– Anna has a sweet, occasionally shallow sister, Aggy, who’s planning her own dream wedding with her adorable fiance Chris- unfortunately they don’t see eye to eye on the financial side of the wedding. Anna’s bestie is restaurateur Michelle, who’s big, brash and the kind of woman you want on your side in life. At work at the university Anna has colleague Patrick on her side- but how far would he go to protect her, and why? Finally James is the main man here, some of the book is told from his point of view so we get to know him quite well. He’s going through a divorce from faithless ice queen Eva less than a year after the wedding, he’s sick of his job and is growing apart from his oldest school friend. He’s a different person to the kid he was at school, and doesn’t recognise Anna when they meet again- so he’s baffled by her initial cold front.

The Bella-Swan-Pathetically-Self-Sacrificing-Factor– Anna is a remarkably well adjusted adult, considering her troubling school days, but in the acceptance years of her thirties, having lost some weight and recovered her complexion, she’s more attractive than she realises. She’s found her niche as a history professor and is enjoying passing on her love of her favourite historical heroine in a museum special exhibition, which was both unusual and interesting. Anna has nothing against meeting men online, despite mostly disastrous results when she meets them in real life, a triumph of optimism over experience. Unfortunately this composed, contented woman begins to unravel when her former school bully appears in her professional life- but having the element of surprise, she has some options.

Painting a Picture for your Paperback?– I had occasionally wondered what a life in academia would be like and imagined it to be quite peaceful. But then you have to factor in some students I guess!

Nookie for your Nook?– Nothing scandalous, might fail the Mother-in-Law test on language. Best suited to readers from twenties to forties?

Evaluation of your eBook?– There’s a definite P&P vibe up in here; James rescues the silly sister; Anna’s mum is also quite silly while her long suffering Dad favours Anna over her sister; there’s a second man in the picture who’s up to no good and tries it on with both sisters; it’s fun to spot all the little homages. Having read this, I wanted to read it again- so I did a couple of weeks later. Anna’s a lovable character who hasn’t let her childhood traumas ruin her adulthood, she calmly got on with it, lost weight, found her passion and is getting out there on the dating scene, while retaining a delightfully sarcastic view on life. It’s as witty, clever and heartfelt as the author’s last, and I particularly loved the scenes with Anna and her wildly varied family. Get it for a smart, sad, happy, intelligent frothy read.

Frothy Ranking: 5/5 cocktails.

Can be obtained from:

UK: Amazon for only 99p.

US: On Amazon for $8.99, and Kobobooks have it for $7.39.

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