Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Sophie Cousens - Just Haven't Met You Yet

Laura's business trip to the Channel Islands isn't exactly off to a great start. After unceremoniously dumping everything in her bag in front of the most attractive man she's ever seen in real life, she arrives at her hotel only to realize she's grabbed the wrong suitcase from the airport. Her only consolation? The irresistibly appealing contents of the case: a copy of her favorite book; piano music; and a rugged, heavy knit fisherman sweater only a Ryan Gosling lookalike could pull off. The owner of this suitcase is Laura's dream man--she's sure of it. Now, all she has to do is find him.
The mix-up seems written in the stars. After all, what are the odds that she'd find The One on the same remote island where her mom and dad had first fallen in love, especially as she sets out to write an article about their epic romance? Commissioning surly cab driver Ted to ferry her around seems like her best bet in both tracking down the mystery suitcase owner and retracing her parents' footsteps. And if beneath Ted's gruffness lies a wit that makes their cab rides strangely entertaining, so much the better. But as Laura's long-lost luggage soulmate proves difficult to find--and as she realizes that the love story she's held on a pedestal all her life might not have been that perfect--she'll have to rethink her whole outlook on love to discover what she really wants.

Comment: This one was lucky enough to not wait too long in the pile. I only heard about it at the beginning of this year but really felt like trying it, so here it is.

In this story we meet Laura, who writes for a website and her most sought after segment is the one where she interviews couples who share how they met, and the funniest/different the better. However, online content has to keep being a novelty and Laura decides to travel to the island of Jersey, where her parents met because of a coin and if her father hand't died, theirs could have been a great love story, but the meet cute is something Laura believes would appeal to viewers. However, problems begin at the airport and she leaves with the wrong bag, meaning someone else has hers. The taxi driver annoys her even more but it turns out he is a good tour guide. In the meantime, Laura wants to discover more about her family, she wants to write the perfect content for the website, she wants to find a mystical love connection with the owner of the bag she brought, since it all points out to them being soul mates. Will Laura ever find her true path?

I had a good time reading this story. It's the first thing I try by the author but I felt her style and general idea were well planned and this turned out to be a cute, funny story, with enough serious issues to complement, making this more interesting instead of just a romantic comedy. I think, however, some scenes were a little too far fetched, but I can ignore them because the tone and vibe appealed to my personal taste.

The story starts a little confusing and Laura seemed a bit silly at first, not only because of her belief in soul mates and weird universe clues being the indication she needs to look for, but the whole idea the man who owns the bag the took by mistake is her perfect man felt a bit too cliché. I suppose that was the goal anyway, especially considering how suitable the content of the bag were to convince Laura of this. I found it cute they both liked Phil Collins, though.

I was more interested in knowing more about Laura's parents' history and since she still had family on the island, I imagined this would allow for necessary developments. We also have some intros into each chapter, mainly letters exchanged by Laura's parents and a few sentences of a famous book which took the world by storm on women's need to impose their wishes, as if they are tigers. This is a book Laura starts reading on the plane to Jersey and works as a way to set up some of Laura's choices and behavior on the island.

I found her work details to be a little intrusive, to be fair. I just don't think it's that easy or natural to simply start interviewing people and doing the kind of videos Laura does, but all social media videos would prove me wrong, isn't it? Still, while modern, I think I would have preferred Laura to be investigating her parent's story as the main goal of her work assignment and not as much to do so many things, because some scenes felt too silly and just for laughs, and because it distracted from what I think was the most interesting part of the book.

As the plot develops, two things started to become obvious: Laura's seeking of the mystery man was really only a cliche, as we got to understand her love match might be in someone else, and the allegedly love story of her parents wasn't that romantic after all, and the more Laura discovers, the less good she feels about the whole thing. I think this part was quite well done, how easy it is we just assume things and sometimes one version or another version of a situation might not be that linear. I was rather invested in this section and wish the predicaments Laura sees herself in at times wouldn't have been so comical, so that this could have had a bit more focus.

As for the romance, it wasn't that easy at first, in the sense that as soon as they assumed their feelings, the HEA was instantaneous. I actually liked they talked, that it took some time for their lives to find a common thread so that they could actually be together. Some scenes towards the end were just a bit too convenient and rather like a romantic comedy and, again, it took something out of the serious of some issues...if there is one general critique I'd have is this, the balance wasn't always really well achieved in my opinion.

Despite this, I liked the story, I loved who Laura ends up with (even if not that surprising), I think her family history dded a very interesting content to the novel and several of the secondary characters really added a cute and quirky feel to this book (I loved Ted's father). I will certainly try something else by the author at some point.
Grade: 8/10

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