I was approached to read this book by One More Chapter via NetGalley. I was sold on a "hilarious, laugh-out-loud romantic comedy", but sadly I don't feel that that's what I got.
As opposed to finding it laugh-out-loud funny, I've actually come away from it thinking it should come with some sort of trigger warning; as someone with existing mental health issues, there were parts of this book that I found uncomfortable to read. It was mentioned in the blurb that Tess was a doctor, but not that she was a hospice doctor, meaning some readers will unexpectedly find themselves dealing with some emotionally sensitive content.
The blurb also mentioned voices in Tess' head that she has to contend with - an early insight into the fact that her mental health is not where it should be. I appreciate what the author was trying to do with these voices, kind of like a devil and angel on each shoulder, but the execution of her concept fell short for me. The angel voice was saccharine, and the devil voice felt overly mean and extreme. While this is probably an accurate reflection of what goes on in someone's head when they are struggling with their mental health, it seemed out of place in a book that's been marketed as the "summer's most hilarious romcom".
On top of this, I found myself contending with an eating disorder that was unexpected given the blurb that I had read. There is nothing wrong with including something like this in any book, but it seems unfair to spring it on the unsuspecting reader without warning. To add more challenge to the situation, it was spoken about enough as part of the plot that you couldn't just skim past it, but not enough that it was ever really properly dealt with or resolved healthily. Given how sensitive a topic like this is, it felt like a side-plot that was normalised instead of tackled, ultimately leaving me with the impression that the subject had been mishandled.
In large part thanks to this, and the extremity of the TV host (devil) voice in Tess' head, I struggled to connect with Tess as a character - I found her to be annoyingly self-pitying rather than rooting for her as I should have done. Similarly, Edward came across as unnecessarily arrogant and mean, and therefore hard to like. The character I ended up liking the most was Mary, the hospice patient; she was the warm and gentle touch that the book needed more of.
In terms of the plot, it was nice enough, and the pace mostly worked. My only issue is that the beginning and end didn't appear to be completely fleshed out. At the start, I felt like I had been abruptly and jerkily dumped into the middle of Tess' life without really being able to understand her. The end seemed to resolve everything quite speedily given how detailed the middle had been.
Additionally, while it won't be an issue for anyone reading this once it's published, the formatting of the unproofed copy I received was challenging to read and served to further distract and disconnect me from the material.
Ultimately, something about this book just didn't click, and it wasn't for me.
*I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley and One More Chapter in exchange for an honest review.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a Yorkshire lass in possession of a career, a house, and a cat, must be in want of a husb—
Oh get a grip!
Dr Tess Carter is no starry-eyed Jane Austen heroine. After all, if your dad left without a backward glance and you found your last boyfriend in bed with another guy, you wouldn’t believe in romance either. And the voices in Tess’s head – you know, the ones that tell you you’re not good enough, not pretty enough, not clever enough – well, these voices are very loud. Very loud indeed. Especially when the proud and disagreeable son of one of her patients starts challenging her every decision.
Edward Russell might have a big job and a posh voice, but Tess is determined not to let him get to her, especially if she can get her inner monologue to stop with the endless self-sabotage. And Edward, it turns out, may be less of a prat than he first appears; he’s certainly handy in a crisis.
In the real world, where gentlemanlike manners and out-of-the-blue declarations of love are a story-book fantasy, it’s up to Tess to decide whose voice to listen to … and how to make her own heard.
You can buy the book here. It's being published by One More Chapter on 16 September 2021.