Friday, July 11, 2014

Book Review: Elly in Love

By Kathryn Hamilton

Elly Jordan has not had the easiest go of it. She grew up never knowing her father. Her mom recently passed away from cancer. Her husband cheated on her then married his mistress. Not to mention her toxic relationship with a local artist. All that is in the past and Elly is in a good place in her life. She runs a very successful floral shop (did I mention she was the florist for the aforementioned wedding? Yikes!) and is in a healthy relationship with a wonderful man. However, before she can get too comfortable, life begins to throw curveballs Elly’s way, from the appearance of a mysterious young man to the job opportunity of a lifetime. While all this is going on, she begins to wonder if her lovely boyfriend, Keith, is everything he says he is. Will Elly find a way to handle things with grace, or will she fall apart and risk losing things that matter most?

Elly in Love by Colleen Oakes is the second in the series that follows Elly Jordan. I don’t feel that readers are at a disadvantage if they haven’t read the first novel, Elly in Bloom (as I haven’t myself but intend to now). Ms. Oakes does a great job of catching the reader up to speed without it being a complete re-hashing for those who have read the previous story.

I only have one negative thought about the novel, so I will get it out of the way now. Throughout the entire story, Elly never refers to her young assistant by name. There is one instance where she is about to give her name but gets interrupted. I found it to be a bit annoying and condescending. On one hand, Elly refers to her assistant as her protégé, but on the other continuously refers to her with this moniker. I don’t know if this is a running joke that has carried through from the first novel (if so, I do apologize for sounding a bit harsh). It was my only point of contention. Having said all that, other readers may not be as grumbly about it. I think what bothered me most was the disrespect towards her assistant I felt it suggested, rather than being the endearing nickname it might have intended to be.

That is only one small part of this otherwise well rounded novel. The opening scene reminded me a bit of how the movie The Wedding Planner starts and I knew this was going to be a novel I was going to enjoy. It has its humour, romance, drama. In short, everything we love about chick lit. Elly is the kind of woman that we all relate to and most likely can identify a part of her in ourselves. While she is very competent in her professional life, personally she struggles with confidence. She doesn’t hide how “uncool” she is and this makes her so relatable. She is self-aware, acknowledging that her husband’s betrayal affects her in her current relationship. Elly is so critical of her weight (well, aren’t we all?) that she laments gaining three pounds. She displays an immense amount of grace under pressure when dealing with her clients. Elly is just real.

As a character, I really enjoyed Elly’s assistant. She is spunky and delightfully tells it as it is. A senior in high school, she is at that age where she is finding her identity, wanting to spread her wings and gain independence. Elly is more than a boss to her assistant. She is a mentor and in many ways a mother figure, which I sense is important as it is suggested that this young woman does not come from a supportive home. This young assistant is easily my favourite character.

Elly’s relationship with Keith starts off smoothly, but as I started to notice red flags, I honestly didn’t want her with him. Everyone around Elly keeps telling her that Keith is a great guy, but I felt something was off. Was I right? Were her friends right? Not telling!

Ms. Oakes has a real winner with this novel and I look forward to reading the next installment in Elly Jordan’s adventures.

Thanks to BookSparks for the book in exchange for an honest review. Check out Book Mama Blog's review, as well!

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