The One Before The One – Katy Regan

What to expect:
Caroline’s life was meant to be sorted when she made the decision to end her engagement, 3 months before the big day. With her to-do list tasks getting crossed off and her career going great guns, Caroline is sure she’s now a fully functioning adult. So when her 17 year old half-sister Lexi, arrives unexpectedly at her door, it doesn’t quite fit with her image that she’s drunk and wearing her wedding dress!

Lexi has come to stay for the summer but their relationship is strained, as Lexi is the result of their father’s infidelity. An affair that led to the divorce that destroyed Caroline’s mother and ruined her own childhood. Needless to say, Caroline is in no hurry to confess her relationship with her married lover Toby.

As the summer wears on, Caroline has decisions to make, and a life to reconsider, but surely a 17 year old can’t teach her anything about how to live well?

The Bella-Swan-Pathetically-Self-Sacrificing-Factor– Caroline is surprisingly easy to like, despite her occasionally inconsiderate behaviour and stunningly bad decision making; some of these decisions include an affair with a married man, lying to her family about her breakup with Martin, and stringing Martin along for purely selfish reasons. Caroline is an intelligent, professional, lively, attractive, thirty-something who falls into a messy spiral when her mistakes catch up with her. I often struggle with books like this where the heroine brings it all on herself, but in the second half of the book she really begins to redeem herself, thanks to her straight-talking younger sister.

Kooks for your Kindle?– Some of Caroline’s issues stem from her childhood, her father left her mother and started a second family, producing her younger sister Lexi when Caroline was 15 and feeling abandoned. Caroline’s bitter mother still bears quite a grudge years later, while her father and his second wife are born-again hippies. Martin is an old man waiting to happen, and it’s not hard for everyone except Caroline to see how he still pines for her. Toby is the married man, he puts on such a show of normality I think there might be a touch of the sociopath there. His poor wife Rachel was lovely, and really well done. Finally Lexi, I adored. A girl with no appropriateness-filter when she talks, open and honest, she makes friends easily. Of course this also means she’s a target for those taking advantage, but she’s such a ray of sunshine she bounces back and is an inspiration.

Painting a Picture for your Paperback?– I’m not a fan of London, but books like this make it seem really nice in the summer, and the houseboat featured reminded me of The Pollyanna Plan, as did a few other aspects. If you enjoyed that you’ll probably like this too.

Nookie for your Nook?– Quite spicy, would fail the Mother-In-Law test.

Evaluation of your eBook?– Caroline’s character was a little mixed, she’s an uptight, control-freaky list-maker who claims to be the last person that would sleep with a married man, but she comes across as quite scatty and uninhibited. It’s a quintessential frothy read, girl meets boy, girl makes mistakes, things eventually get fixed in the end and she’s a better person for it. The younger sister as life-teacher theme has popped up a few times lately but this doesn’t feel unoriginal, the characters are distinctive enough to make this their own story.

Frothy Ranking: 4/5 cocktails.

Can be obtained from:

UK: Amazon for £5.29, although sometimes on special for less.

US: Not on Amazon, Kobobooks have it for $8.39.