By Melissa Amster
Before I even read "Helen of Pasadena" by Lian Dolan, I was instantly attracted to the cover with its vibrant roses and color contrasts, as well as its chick lit friendly design. The storyline also sounded like it would be interesting, so I dove in right away.
The book opens with Helen Fairchild attending her husband's funeral after he gets killed by a Rose Bowl float while text messaging the woman with whom he has been having an affair, just shortly after he announces the affair to Helen. Soon she finds out that he has also been mismanaging their money and she has to suddenly uproot herself and her son from their posh lifestyle and find a job, as well. The job she finds involves working for an attractive man as his research assistant on an archaeological study, which just complicates her life even more as she finds herself becoming attracted to him...
I found this book to be very lively and entertaining. I was book multi-tasking it between stories about women who have the chance to fix their marriage while facing some similar complications, but this was a lighter story. Usually there are books about widows where it's hard not to be depressed for them right away. This time, the reader is glad that the woman's husband is dead and they are rooting for her to pick up and move on. At least that's how I felt. The story is full of amusing characters who seem almost satirical at times.
The only criticism I had was that the story seemed to jump around in time a lot. I almost had to go back and check that I didn't miss something (like it seemed to skip from January to May a bit too quickly). However, there were some fun surprises to keep up the momentum of the story and the time "warp" seemed to fit well with the upbeat feel of the novel in general.
Overall, I had a fun time reading this book and recommend it as a beach read (or something to keep your mind off the cold weather at this time of year). I give kudos to Ms. Dolan on an enjoyable first novel.
Lian Dolan will be visiting Chick Lit Central soon to do a guest blog post, and you'll have a chance to win a signed copy of "Helen of Pasadena" at that time. Stay tuned!