Title: The Lucky Escape (review copy)
Author: Laura Jane Williams
Genre/Themes: Contemporary Light Fiction, Romantic dramedy, Left at the Altar
Blurb from Goodreads
ONE CANCELLED WEDDING
When the day finally comes for Annie to marry Alexander, the last thing she expects is to be left standing at the altar. She was so sure he was Mr Right. Now, she has no idea how she could have got it so wrong.
ONE UNEXPECTED ENCOUNTER
After a chance meeting with Paddy, an old friend who reminds her of who she used to be, Annie takes a vow of her own: she’ll say yes to every opportunity that comes her way from now on.
ONE SPARE TICKET FOR THE HONEYMOON
Could a spontaneous trip with Paddy be the way to mend Annie’s heart? She’s about to find out as she embarks on her honeymoon – with a man who’s not her husband…
Back in 2020 I read “The Love Square” by this same author, Laura Jane Williams, and although it wasn’t a perfect read there was a lot that I admired a lot about it, especially the author’s eagerness to write a diverse cast of characters and her willingness to buck the heteronormative trends that are present in contemporary light fiction. So when I was invited to read “The Lucky Escape” through NetGalley it was an absolute no brainer to say yes as I was eager to see how Williams’ storytelling had developed.
“The Lucky Escape” is all about MC Annie and what happens to her after she is left at the altar with the blurb informing us that she goes on her honeymoon with a man who is very much not her husband. And this is the first strike against the book. Why did the blurb reveal to us that she would embark on her honeymoon with someone else and yet she doesn’t get on the plane with him until 29% of the way though the novel?
The buildup felt utterly tedious imo….
And okay I get it.
A lot of backstory was built up in that 29% but it was backstory that didn’t make for engaging reading as the pace of the novel felt completely off kilter with the book genre; to me a book in this genre should feel lively and be peppered with sass and snappy banter, but instead this just dragged on and on. Of course there was going to be some sadness and heartache at being jilted by the supposed love of your life, but I just felt the author didn’t find that perfect balance between deep emotion and feistiness that a heroine in this genre should embody. And to add insult to injury the supporting cast of characters were less than authentic in their descriptions.
Annie could have been such an interesting main character. I really liked how on the surface she was this modern woman who had it all together eg said the right things to inspire her much younger sister, had a successful career, a great group of friends but then when you dug a little deeper into her character you could see that much of her life was a charade as she had a lot of anxiety and worried about what other people would think ie she was always the good girl because that’s the role she thought she should play.
And yet despite this contrast between the inner and outer Annie she was rather dull to read about. Instead of being written with real depth she was essentially a bunch of stereotypes all mangled together in one unimaginative lump.
Then there was new man Patrick who became the love interest.
Oh boy, where do I start….
At one point in the novel Patrick describes himself as a manic pixie dream girl. If you’re not familiar with that trope it’s basically a beautiful young woman that is perfectly quirky and epically beautiful but doesn’t quite know it. Her personality is purely that she’s wild, careless and free, and she really only exists in the plot to help the male lead discover something about himself. Her storyline is never developed and her personality even less so.
So what was truly ridiculous about Patrick in saying that he was Annie’s manic pixie dream girl is that that really was all he was! He was spontaneous and free, and lived to serve Annie’s storyline. Okay I will admit we learn more about his past but I still felt he was criminally underdeveloped, and honestly if you told me he was eight years old rather than twenty- or thirty-something (I can’t recall if we were told the characters’ ages) I would have believed you as he acted so much like a spoiled child that it really got on my wick.
Speaking of characters that don’t act their ages!
Annie’s little sister Freddie was supposedly thirteen years old. Eh no. I think the author did an incredible disservice to young teenagers with the way she wrote Freddie. She acted more like an immature five year old.
And the last character I’d like to touch on is Annie’s mother.
Can authors please stop throwing in conflict between mothers and daughters just for the sake of *drama*.
There was absolutely no rhyme nor reason to the way Annie’s mother was written in this novel. She was a complete wagon of a woman but without any explanation as to why. At the end of the novel there was about a page given over to her saying something along the lines of “I only ever want what’s best for you oh daughter dearest and I’m sorry it comes across as mean”…. And I’m there reading it like huh??? All that vitriol and nastiness and it suddenly disappears in a few paragraphs? Make it make sense please.
There were other allegedly important-to-the-storyline characters in the book too: a best friend at work and a “core four” from either Annie’s childhood or university days, I can’t remember exactly. Either way they all blurred into one other as it read as if zero effort was put into creating unique personalities for each of them.
Ultimately this book just didn’t work.
The romance did feel rather rushed and unbelievable.
I know, I know… I should suspend my belief a little with the romantic genre but I just didn’t buy the relationship between Annie and Patrick. It 100% felt like a rebound fling rather than a happily ever after … I wish the author had been braver with the ending too. It just all wrapped up too neatly considering there was supposed to be all this emotional drama that both Annie and Patrick were dealing with.
And lastly, the death knell for me was the inclusion of the storyline about Annie’s dog going missing while she was on holiday…
SPOILER ALERT the dog is eventually found safe and well!
…However this little plot point caused me such stress. My dog is my everything. If she went missing I would be beside myself with fear, worry, stress, heartache, devastation etc etc. So when Annie was able to continue having fun on her holiday all while her supposedly beloved pooch has gone missing at home… yeah. Made me not like her as a character at all. And I think that was the time the book went past the point of rescue in my eyes and instead it became a book that I was reading to just be done with.
Overall this book really wasn’t to my liking which is a shame as I do believe it had a lot of potential… but sadly that potential was never fulfilled.
Not for me.
*An e-copy was kindly provided to me by the publisher via NetGalley for honest review*
Publishing 10th June 2021, Avon