The Case Of The Missing Boyfriend – Nick Alexander

Thirty-nine year old CC’s life looks good on paper; a successful career in advertising, plenty of friends and a flat that she’s almost paid off. But something’s missing- a boyfriend- although a baby and a farm would be nice too, but first things first. CC approaches this with the same determination which which she handles her job, and attempts speed dating, but once is enough. Ditto for spontaneous weekends in France with VERY strange men. In the meantime her gay friends are living the dream, with coke-fueled parties, carefree hook-ups and occasionally finding love. Even her sexagenarian mother is sexing up a Moroccan twenty year old. Can CC get past the issues preventing her from opening up to new possibilities?

This is our second book from this author, having previously reviewed The Half-life Of Hannah, this one feels slightly younger and had more going on.

Kooks for your Kindle?– Apart from one girl, CC mainly surrounds herself with gay men friends, possibly in a subconscious bid to replace her late brother. Their dramas add to her own; there’s fun but depressed Darren, neighbour Mark is a little too desperate for a relationship, and lovely Victor, who doubles as her gynaecologist. Norman, the result of speed dating, seems hopeful initially but can CC see past his brown eyes? CC’s lonely mother is hard work, and has mysteriously taken up with her obscenely young holiday tour guide all of a sudden.

The Bella-Swan-Pathetically-Self-Sacrificing-Factor– CC is vaguely aware that she’s been damaged by losing her father and brother, and thinks she’s dealing with it by acquiring masses of self help books. Fortunately a bit of professional help works wonders. Her naturally diplomatic personality is not just useful with clients at work- it helps her handle her prickly mother. She’s mostly past her phase of abusive exes, but one continues to haunt her- why hasn’t she been able to cry for over twenty years? It sounds a bit doom and gloom, but CC’s proactive nature was positive, even if she didn’t quite know where to look for happiness. Sounds like she has a fabulous wardrobe though.

Painting a picture for your paperback?– This is all about relationships, how CC doesn’t realise she’s holding people at arm’s length, how her men friends choose disastrous ones, real life arguments with rude waiters and fellow customers, how her mother’s relationship is only borderline legal… CC believes that if she finds a good relationship, then the rest of her dreams will follow.

Evaluation of your eBook?– The irony of CC’s self help books hurting her didn’t fail to amuse, and it seems the author likes to throw a little surprise in for those among us who’ve led sheltered lives- in this instance, an unexpected fetish. I felt it could have been slightly shorter- I had time to devour it in one day, but those dipping into it might find it a little slow. While there are serious themes at work here (depression/drugs/ illness/fertility/bereavement), it is a surprisingly fun read with a sharp, witty narrative. Again, you wouldn’t know such a realistic everyday heroine was actually written by a man, she’s so convincing. The ending is satisfying, without being wrapped up too tidily, and now there is a sequel too- but don’t read the blurb on that or you’ll spoil the ending of this book! It’s currently a bargain on both sides of the Atlantic too.

Frothy Ranking: 4/5 cocktails.

Can be obtained from:

UK: Amazon, currently only 65p.

US: Not currently on Amazon, but kobobooks have it for $1.44.

The Half-life of Hannah – Nick Alexander

Hannah convinces her husband Cliff to take a holiday home in the south of France for two weeks, along with their eleven year old son Luke, Hannah’s free spirirted sister Jill and her teenaged daughter, and Jill’s friend Tristan. In this time long simmering tensions come to a head between Hannah and Jill, and then Hannah and Cliff when they receive a very unexpected visitor. The story is told in the third person but with a few first person (Hannah) flashbacks, this works really well for the story. The author apparently has his roots in gay literature, which makes this insightful look into a straight married woman’s life all the more impressive.

Kooks for your Kindle?– All the characters are strong and well fleshed out. Jill is a rather selfish sister to Hannah, but has her reasons and is a very different personality. Aisha, her teenaged daughter, makes a pleasant regression from sullen, Facebook-addicted teen to playful older cousin to Luke while on holiday. Tristan shares a few traits with the traditional ‘gay best friend’ trope, but is more than a flamboyant, outspoken, good friend. He’s a talented chef, translator, dedicated uncle to his friends’ kids and plays a discreet role in the final act.

The Bella-Swan-Pathetically-Self-Sacrificing-Factor– Hannah has been a passenger in her adult life up to this point, but the flashbacks reveal the reasons behind this. Cliff is outwardly affable, but under the veneer is a controlling, occasionally malevolent husband, so it’s satisfying to see his world begin to crumble.

Painting a picture for your paperback?– The drama takes place in the South of France, with the exception of the flashbacks. It’s a picturesque location for all these relationships to break down, with plenty of sunshine, good food, wine and mosquitos.

Evaluation of your eBook?– This exceeded my expectations, such a nuanced, well-written tale. All the characters are well thought out, and the surprises along the way (which I didn’t see coming) make it unputdownable once you’ve got into it. I’m a sucker for a tale of a long-manipulated woman finding her feet, and this is a good one which stuck with me for a while once I’d finished it- a sign of a thoughtful read. The low price is just a bonus! The ending is more ‘alluded to’ than ‘spelled out’, which left me wanting more- there’s definite sequel potential here. I’ve classed it as ‘much more substantial’ in the Frothy categories as it’s not a comedy, but it’s quite a short book, and light enough to read in a day if you have the time. Educational moment- I now know what Grindr is! It’s been a sheltered life…

Frothy Ranking: 5/5 cocktails.

Can be obtained from:

UK: WHSmith for 98p and Amazon for only 49p, although sometimes it’s even cheaper!

US: Kobobooks for $1.99 and Amazon for 99c.