A Passionate Love Affair with a Perfect Stranger by Lucy Robinson
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Publication Date: May 2013
Publisher: Notting Hill Press
Target audience: Adult
Keywords: dating websites, career, Edinburgh
Format read: ARC provided by author. (Thank you!)
Summary: A break from a bustling career for a workaholic is never a good thing. Charley is determined to make the most of her time, and decides to start her own business — ghostwriting for those on dating websites who need a little help making the initial connection. So what happens when she begins falling for one of the guys she’s writing to for a client? Things only get more complicated when she goes back to her “real” job, the guy she’s been in love with forever admits he’s getting a divorce, and a sneaky coworker is determined to take her job. And that’s only at her day job! Can she juggle it all?
Having the busiest week last week, it was a treat to pick up A Passionate Love Affair… during my down time. Charley is so zany, so intensely intense — she wormed her way into my heart and is one of the more memorable characters I’ve met in a long time. (I was reminded so much of reading Sophie Kinsella and Emily Giffin back in the day with this title.)
First of all, starting a company where ghostwriters are hired to help those who are having trouble on dating sites? Total genius. It seems like everything goes right for a person like Charley — she has the career, she makes good money, she has great friends, an awesome family — but the love part just hasn’t clicked for her yet. It’s not surprising either… she’s been crushing on a guy in her office for years (too many years) and his flirtation keeps her hanging on (even though he’s having an affair with a married woman).
Right off the bat I loved the premise, but it wasn’t until Charley starts writing notes for clients (specifically for a very very busy career woman named Shelley) that she starts a bit of self-actualization. Has she been ignoring friends and family because work is her life? Has she pretended to be someone else in relationships and that’s why they never worked out? So as she talks to William as “Shelley” and he starts hitting all the right buttons about letting her hair down, enjoying life, Charley gets a little smitten. Like, a lot smitten. To the point where you will NOT believe the lengths she would go to. (But I was along for the ride and loving it.)
I can’t tell you anymore.
But there’s a surprise, and then another surprise and whoa, Robinson took this story to a whole different place than I would have ever thought. It was fantastic, though, because I had no idea how things would end, how all of this might blow up in Charley’s face, and what it would mean for her career, and her love life. It’s good stuff; I promise.
Clocking in at almost 500 pages (I’ll admit I was a little nervous about this), we get a full picture of Charley’s family including her banjo-playing dad and her two sisters. There are also her friends — Sam, her childlike but adorable roommate who is recently engaged, and her best friend, Hailey, who is the best kind of gal pal because she tells the harsh truth even it’s the last thing that Charley wants to hear. Of course, the work drama played a big part in A Passionate Love Affair too… the crappy coworker (in the inappropriate short skirts) who wants to usurp Charley’s job and most importantly, figuring out proper work/life balance. Was it even possible for her?
In her 30s, Charley was still someone trying to figure out who she was and I really liked seeing that, especially because so many experiences and such different people had an influence on her conclusions. We never know who is going to have that kind of effect on us, and it just goes to show that learning to love and trust yourself is an on-going life lesson. I couldn’t have asked for a more fun and charming book, and I loved the emphasis on dating in the digital age. (While I was reading this, quite a few convos popped up about dating websites and I couldn’t help but smile and think of Charley.) It’s such a relevant experience these days, and no matter how hilarious Charley’s experiences are throughout the book, it will no doubt give you something to think about how you approach relationships and balance work and play in your life.
P.S. I can assure you this review was not ghostwritten. 😉