Title: Never Say No (review copy)
Author: Elizabeth Neep
Genre/Themes: Contemporary Dramedy, Coming of Age as an Adult, Soon to be Thirty, Found Family
Blurb from the Publisher
It’s always been yes. Yes, I’ll be your friend. Yes, I’ll be your girlfriend. Yes, I’ll move in with you. Yes, yes, yes. I can’t just change my mind now. Can I?
Hailey has always been told she can have it all. And saying yes to every opportunity that comes her way seems like the obvious way to make sure she gets it.
- When she finds an engagement ring hidden in her boyfriend Dom’s closet, she knows she’ll say yes.
- Her best friend Sophie suggests they run a marathon together and although Hailey hasn’t done more than sprint for a bus in years, she says yes.
- And every time her new boss, the infamous Vivian Jones, asks her to stay late (again) at her dream job, the answer is always yes.
But somewhere between saying ‘yes’ to Vivian’s latest demands and still trying to make it home on time for boxsets and burritos on the sofa with Dom, Hailey has lost sight of what she really wanted in the first place.
Far from winning at life, Hailey feels like she is fighting to juggle two very different worlds. When those worlds finally collide, could having it all actually mean losing everything?
Fans of Mhairi McFarlane, Holly Bourne and The Devil Wears Prada will adore this funny, heart-felt and honest look at navigating those moments in life where you reach a crossroads and have to decide who and what it is you want to be.
From the cover of this book I sort of expected it to be a cute, contemporary romance which is a genre I love.
But this turned out to be so much more than I ever expected!
I completely enjoyed this read from start to finish. I was utterly invested in Hailey’s story and character arc; like Hailey herself I thought I knew what outcome would be best for her… but this book! It just took me places emotionally that I wasn’t expecting!
Hailey is nearing her thirtieth birthday and has just started a job placement with the very high-flying solicitor that is Vivian Jones. Vivian is everything that Hailey wants to be; Vivian is super successful in both her career and private life as she is a partner in a huge law firm and has been happily married to her husband for basically forever. They are #CoupleGoals for Hailey as well as Vivian being her career idol.
But then Hailey sees the truth behind Vivian’s veil of perfection as she learns that to be as happy as she is Vivian says yes to all sorts of desires, even ones that mean she’s less than faithful in her marriage. This causes huge reverberations in Hailey’s life as she struggles to find her footing in the world of high-profile, divorce court lawyering, and to somehow figure out how to marry this stressful and demanding new career with her home life and long term boyfriend Dom.
Hailey begins to question if she too should say yes to new opportunities, including a new love interest, and wonders if the familiar is just comfortable rather than what she truly wants.
This book is so well written! So well! Hailey is such an interesting and dynamic character. She’s far from perfect but it’s all these little flaws that make her all the more compelling to read about. At times she was quite selfish and incredibly blinkered about so many things (especially with boyfriend Dom and friend Sophie), but then she also had this great moral quality which juxtaposed nicely with those self-centred aspects she had. She was just brilliantly human and incredibly authentically written. And I very much found myself able to empathise with her even though our lives are nothing alike so kudos to the author for that!
Her relationship with long term boyfriend Dom was fascinating. Author Elizabeth Neep successfully managed to make Dom really likeable and unlikeable all at once! He had his charms and also some irritating habits that made me want to slap him oops! So I felt as conflicted as Hailey did about whether their relationship had any future and could not predict the outcome of their relationship at all.
In the mix in Hailey’s home life was also long term bestie Sophie. In fact, Sophie, Dom, and Hailey were all lifelong friends and it created a fantastic interplay between the three characters as loyalties were questioned and the meaning of unconditional friendship truly explored. It was brilliant being invited into the world of these best friends, and I loved the mini-flashbacks of texts and instant-messages that were used to show the development of their strong bond over the years. If you’re a fan of the ‘found family’ trope then this book is definitely for you.
In Hailey’s professional world I really enjoyed reading about Vivian. It’s so enjoyable to read about a woman who knows what she wants in life and isn’t afraid to get it. I loved how unashamedly in everyone’s face Vivian was about wanting to be successful and wanting to achieve. And to make things even better, Vivian wasn’t just one-dimensional ‘career career career’, as her character arc really opened up in ways I was not expecting by the end. I won’t say any more because of spoilers but yup, loved her!
Other characters that were really memorable were Hailey’s work colleagues Daniel, who was on equal footing to her, and partner wannabe Liam. Liam was proper smarmy but also super charming, and Daniel was just a character that was hard to figure out at first but in a good way!
Overall this book is so well worth the read. It’s a brilliant exploration into issues of loyalty and friendship, and dares to ask should we never say no to our desires despite the possible impact on other people’s lives and happiness.
*An e-copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*
Published 4th September 2020, Bookouture