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Take a Chance on Me by Jill Mansell

Jill Mansell‘s Take a Chance on Me is another romp in England with some outrageous characters from the chauffeur Cleo Quinn to teenager Georgia Summers.  Set in Channings Hill, Cleo has been unlucky in love for a long time, but she’s had dreams of meeting Mr. Right for a long time, so long as he meets her expectations set by her sister Abbie’s marriage to Tom.  Johnny LaVenture, a former classmate and now famous sculpture, was the closest to her dream boy until he asked her out on a bet in high school and ruined her impressions of him forever.

The drama in this novel is over the top, but engaging.  Each character is quirkier than the last, but each is endearing to readers in their own special way.  Cleo is often helping her friends find their true love while sitting on the sidelines, and for too much of the book, she seems to be the supporting character.  However, readers soon discover that she is the glue that holds this madcap bunch together and keeps them rolling.

“He was looking smarter than usual in a dark suit and with his habitually wayward black hair combed back from his forehead.  For a split second, he glanced to the left and their eyes met, prompting a Pavlovian jolt of resentment in her chest.  She couldn’t help it; old habits die hard.  Then Johnny looked away, carried on past, and took his place between his ancient aunts in the front pew.”  (page 3 of ARC)

Despite her disastrous love life, Cleo manages to help her DJ friend Ash snag his dream girl, repair her sister’s marriage, and help Johnny meet the needs of his aunt.  Mansell has a gift for witty dialogue and creating characters who are memorable and that you love to hate.  Georgia is forthright to a fault, and Fia fawns too heavily over Johnny, but eventually even these characters mellow and stabilize.  Another fun, quirky winner from Mansell.  Take a Chance on Me is more than a fun chicklit novel, dealing with not only promiscuity, alcoholism, shyness, and childhood trauma, but also finding oneself, learning to stand on your own, and learning to love without fear.

***Thanks to Sourcebooks and Jill Mansell for sending me a copy for review.***