This was another #LMPBC book (thankfully much better than Not the Girl You Marry!), and yet another book that I’m not completely sure I would have picked up on my own. I tried a Mansell book once and didn’t really warm to it, and while I haven’t been actively avoiding her since then, I haven’t been especially keen to pick up another of her titles. All in all, while Take a Chance On Me had it’s slower moments, it still ended up being an enjoyable read, mainly because I found the main character to be likable – something that, for some reason, many authors don’t seem to think is an important characteristic for their leads!
Cleo is one of those people who hasn’t quite done much with her life. It isn’t bad, but she still lives in her hometown, she doesn’t have a college degree, and she’s single. These aren’t necessarily negatives, and I liked the fact that Mansell didn’t paint Cleo as a loser. Instead, she’s a hard worker (with a completely random job – she’s a driver for a company that picks up and drops off people, so she gets to drive limos and other fun, fancy cars) and lives an overall contented life in her small town, next door to her best friend who is a guy but who (surprisingly, honestly) isn’t gay. Still, like most people, Cleo yearns for that special relationship, and is wondering if she may have found it with Will, a dashing, handsome fellow she’s been dating for a few months.
Of course, romance novels being what they are, things go sideways pretty quickly. Turns out that Will is a bit of a stinker, but because the rest of the men in this book are actually decent and likable human beings, I didn’t mind the fact that Will was a jerk. I was also concerned because from the synopsis it sort of sounds like Cleo is mentally-cheating on Will when her old childhood nemesis, Johnny, moves back into town, but Will is actually out of the romance picture pretty early in the story, which made the slow burn between Cleo and Johnny much more enjoyable for me.
This is a chunkier book than a lot of romances I’ve read, mainly because there are multiple stories going on. While Cleo is the main character, a large part of the book is devoted to her sister, Abby, who is about ten years older than Cleo and has been married for a long time to Tom. This was another storyline that I was leery of because, as my readers may have picked up, I really don’t like reading about cheating, but Mansell handled this entire situation deftly, creating the necessary drama without actually making anyone a bad person somehow. Abby frustrated me a LOT more than Cleo – it really felt like, after all these years of marriage, she should have been more trusting of/had better communication with her husband – it was still an interesting part of the book.
The third love story is about Cloe’s neighbor/best friend, Ash, who is kind of a nerd. He isn’t particularly good looking, but he jokes that that doesn’t matter since his job is working as a radio host. While he is witty and entertaining on the radio and with people he knows well, he’s extremely shy when it comes to girls, so much of his love story is a series of miscommunications between him and his crush. Mansell manages to not make it horrifically embarrassing, though, so I could roll with it for the most part.
Like I said, Cleo’s story is the main thrust, and I really loved watching not just love, but friendship grow between her and Johnny. They have some history to overcome and discuss, but for the most part it felt natural.
There were a few times where the drama just got to be a bit much, a few times where I was incredibly frustrated with the lack of communication between various characters, and spots where the pacing seemed to drag, which means this read hovered between 3.5* and 4*. But I rounded up to 4* because I think I will give Mansell another go, especially since this book stayed out of the bedroom (yay), which is getting harder to find these days.
While Take a Chance On Me didn’t blow me away, it was still a perfectly enjoyable and pleasant read, and I’ll keep an eye out for more Mansell titles in the future.