Thursday, 2 February 2017

Emma's Review: How to Get a (Love) Life by Rosie Blake

Reviewed by Emma Crowley

Nicola Brown doesn't like to lose control. Her flat is always meticulously tidy and her weekly meals carefully planned; Nicola keeps her life in order. When her carefree colleague Caroline challenges Nicola to find a date for Valentine's Day, it's a surprise to them both when Nicola agrees. 

As Nicola's search for a man begins, she is thrown in at the deep end - sometimes quite literally - of the dating scene. From men more likely to sell their mother than open their wallet, to those who are determined to find a girlfriend who shares their passion for extreme sports, Nicola has to run the full gamut of dodgy dates. But as the deadline looms closer, Nicola realises it isn't so bad to lose control. It turns out that trying to get a love life can be rather a lot of fun...

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How to Get a Love Life is the debut novel from Rosie Blake now being republished with an updated cover to fit in more with her two books recently published, How to Stuff Up Christmas and How to Find your (First) Husband, both of which I have read and enjoyed. So by reading this book featuring Nicola Brown and her quest to complete a challenge set down by her co-worker and friend Caroline Harper I would be up to date with the wonderful, humorous writing of Rosie Blake. I loved this book from beginning to end, it was just the read I needed as I like to mix it up between genres especially as I read so much historical fiction.

In the brief prologue we meet a woman arriving at an airport, she is on the way to Greece and is vastly different from the abundance of families waiting to travel abroad. This woman whom we discover is Nicola is embarking on her first singles holiday. The holiday booked in a moment of desperation the night before is a last chance to find that one true love but something is niggling away at Nicola and she wonders is she making the right decision going away. The reader is instantly left wondering just what was it that got Nicola to this point and will she find the love she so desperately craves?

When the book properly begins we meet Nicola as she works for an advertising agency looking to find new talent and making bookings. Caroline is her co-worker, she is  married and has two children so love is not an issue or her although work/life/kids balance can be. I loved the camaraderie between the pair, they bounced off each other and although they were work colleagues there seemed to be a deeper friendship and Caroline always provided the push or support that Nicola may have needed at any one time. Their boss James flits in and out of scenes but both women seemed to have a mutual affection and appreciation for him and enjoyed their work.

Nicola is an organiser and likes to stick to strict routines and time plans. Things don’t vary with her. She is a creature of routine and predictability and Caroline knows every day what time breaks should be as she looks at Nicola and what she will have for lunch. Nicola lives alone and is meticulously tidy. She loves regular habits and letting going and being free is not on her agenda. ’Just me in my house, no hassles, no fighting over the remote, no petty things to fall out over, no seemingly innocuous comment that plunges you straight into a hideous row you never wanted .Nobody to break your heart’. To be honest I kind of agreed with Nicola in some of the ways she lived her life as I would feel the same about some things. We don’t need a man to make us totally happy but if Nicola had stayed with this viewpoint we wouldn’t have had the very funny, engaging story that followed.

As regards Nicola’s anticipation and calculation of aspects of her professional and home life, the same couldn't be said for her love life. Well basically it’s non existent. Even Nicola’s brother Mark starts to get onto her that she needs to get out there and throw caution to the wind and experience life in all its forms. Find some sort of love which may make her realise that routine is not all where its at. ‘You should be out there and living your life, not worrying about whether your carrot stick is exactly five centimetres long. You should be meeting people, you should be out with friends, you should be dating, seeing people, having fun’. I agreed with Mark on Nicola’s behalf because I could see beneath her exterior and bravado she did long for some form of friendship that could develop into something more. Mark was a brilliant addition to the story. He popped in and out at the most apt times and brought even more humour to the overall story and his own little grapples with love were a joy to read.

So Caroline double dares Nicola to have secured a date for Valentine’s Day as she has never been on a Valentine’s date before and with only a few weeks to Christmas Nicola says yes. Here is where we see the more adventurous side of her start to emerge and fair play to her because I wouldn’t have accepted the challenge. I suppose it was the side of Nicola coming out that wouldn’t ever say no to something and always wanting order in her life.’ Perhaps I could be brave enough to take a risk because I knew in my heart that I didn't want to live like this'.

What ensues is a series of dates providing inumerable hilarious moments which showcase the writing talents of Rosie Blake and proves she is a genius when it comes to writing romantic comedy. The date with Steve was perhaps for me the funniest, I couldn't even imagine myself in that situation and although I was laughing at Nicola I did feel desperately sorry for her. It was the date from hell well for me it would be anyway. As I kept reading the pace of the book was great and I didn't even notice the pages whizzing by so engrossed was I in Nicola's story and whether she would find a love life. I liked how the author started to include a bit of history re Nicola and things started to make sense as to how she found herself in the position she was in today.

How to Get a Love Life was a fantastic book that I read in a few hours as it became increasingly difficult to put it down and I have no hesitation in recommending it. For me Rosie Blake is fast becoming an author you who just buy no questions asked because you know you are guaranteed a great read full of lots of laughs combined with a good storyline. Does Nicola find the happiness I believe she deserves? Are the dates a complete disaster or will there be someone perfect for her that will make her feel complete? Do buy this book to discover the answers, you won't be one bit disappointed.

Many thanks to Alison Davies from Corvus Books for my copy of How to Get a Love Life to review and to Sharon for having my review on the blog.

I also received a copy of How to Get a (Love) Life from the publisher but as I've already read and reviewed the book when it was originally published as an eBook, I have decided to do a giveaway for my copy.

As with all giveaways on the blog, this one is open to existing followers of the blog as a thank you for your support.  The winner will be selected at random next week and contacted for their postal address to enable me to post the book.  NB. Please do not add details of this giveaway to other sites without my permission.

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  1. This is definitely on my need to read list! 📚

  2. I would love to read this! 😊

  3. Thanks for the chance Sharon. Lx

  4. Thanks for another great giveaway Sharon xx

  5. This is a great giveaway as this has been on my TBR list!

  6. Hi Sharon,
    Thank you for this lovely giveaway. I would really like to read this book. It sounds really enjoyeable. :)