Sunday Book Club: An Offer You Can’t Refuse by Jill Mansell

I had actually planned to read a number of other books which are not of the chick lit genre because I really wanted to break out of my comfort zone. I’ve basically read nothing but chick lit for a few months now so I picked up a number of books that are not chick lit from the library a few weeks ago. Unfortunately that didn’t work out.

The couple of thrillers that I brought home was really not thrilling, and I couldn’t get past the first chapters because of the complicated and large number of characters. It’s so hard to find a good thriller these days! Also, I was feeling sorry for myself and didn’t feel quite ready to move on yet; with my state of mind, I thought I was better off sticking with some more feel good books for a while. Books are supposed to calm you, not frustrate you more.

Anyway this week’s read was An Offer You Can’t Refuse by Jill Mansell. I just finished another book of hers a few weeks ago which was what prompted me to pick this up because I remembered how much I did like the other one, which was Millie’s Fling. I got this from the National Library again, so I didn’t pay a single cent.

**This part of the review consist of Spoilers

Lola is 17 and happily in love with Dougie, so she was hurt and angry when his snobbish mother Adele offers her £10,000 to break up with him. She has no intention of accepting, but stumbled upon her step-father Alex trying to run away from home – which was when she found out that he had been secretly borrowing money to gamble, and he had to disappear since he can’t repay what he owed. With her best friend’s advice that Dougie would probably have broken up with her in the long run, and a desperate need for the money which would save her step-father, she accepts the bribe and breaks up with Dougie.

Three years later, after accepting the bribe and moving to Majorca to avoid Dougie, Lola is back in London to visit her family. Alex has stopped gambling ever since and focused all his energy in his business, which paid off handsomely and he sold is for £1.6 million. He gives Lola a handsome amount of it, which is enough for her to buy an apartment and move back to London. She finds a house in Nottingham and a job in a bookstore.

Another seven years later, Lola is now the manager of the bookstore Kingsley. She still lives in the same apartment, but with a wonderful neighbour Gabriel Adams. Gabe, however, is moving to Australia – he has fallen for an Australian backpacker called Jaydena, even though they’ve only known each other for a couple of weeks. On the way back from Gabe’s farewell party, Lola comes to a aid of a woman who was being robbed. At the hospital, she meets the woman’s husband Philip Nicholson and he invites her for a surprise party.

At the party, she is shocked to find out that the woman is Adele who has now remarried to Nicholson, but is still just as vile as ever, and she comes face to face with Dougie again. Dougie overhears a conversation between Lola and Gabe and realizes that Lola dumped him for money, which makes Lola’s plans to get back together with him much harder on top of the fact that Lola refuses to ever reveal the “real” reason she needed the money. Dougie is also dating a beautiful woman called Isabel who happens to be smart too.

Lola becomes great friends with Dougie’s sister Sally who ends up renting Gabe’s house living across the hall from Lola, after they ganged up and chased away a potential tenant so that Sally could have it instead. Unfortunately, upon arriving in Australia, Gabe finds out that Jaydena is getting back together with her ex-boyfriend and didn’t even tell him. So he returns to London and ends up having to flatshare with Sally, who is the polar opposite of him – she is incredibly messy and he is a clean freak.

As a side story, Lola’s biological father Nick comes back into her life. Her mother Blythe is now dating a man called Malcolm that Lola doesn’t approve of after her step-father passed away a few years ago – and Lola attempts to bring her biological father and mother back together. But eventually Malcolm wins her over by showing that he is really serious about Blythe and Adele is absolutely not interested in getting back with Nick.

Lola spends much of the book trying to get back together with Dougie but failed as Dougie does not trust or believe her anymore. Just as she has decided to give up, Nick manages to convince Dougie to think again about the real reason behind why Lola took the money back then; Dougie comes to the conclusion that all the secrecy could only mean that Lola was trying to protect the people she loved – and it has to be Alex. With that, they do get back together. Sally and Gabe has also fallen for each other. So it all ends happily ever after.

Final Thoughts

As I mentioned earlier, this was the second book from Jill Mansell that I’ve read within the last few weeks so the last book was still quite fresh on my mind and I can’t help but compare. And this book falls really short in comparison. Lola sounded really desperate for most of the book – and I felt that there wasn’t enough building up to explain how much indeed that Lola and Dougie had loved each other before they were split up by Adele. It didn’t feel like a very painful split so the eventual desperate attempts, or practically begging, for Dougie to take her back was a bit over the top.

I did enjoy the pace and there were sufficient side stories to move the book along. The characters are also rather likeable, although not too memorable. I don’t understand some of the character backgrounds – such as why Lola didn’t go to school at 17 and thereafter, while Dougie obviously did. The conversations between the characters were at least not too ‘cringey’; this was one aspect of Jill Mansell’s writing style that I quite like.

I think the worse part of it was actually the ending. While it was a happy ending, it was really abrupt. It kind of comes together with my first point that there wasn’t enough build up to show how much the two characters had truly loved each other, and how the spark was still there when they met again. It felt really flat between Lola and Dougie so it’s kind of a big question mark as to why they do get back together. It’s very abrupt and not romantic at all.

In all, while I did manage to get through the book quite easily in just a few hours without strangling people around me like I always do when I read a bad book, it was just not a great book. I was expecting a romantic book and while I did get a happily ever after, I didn’t feel the love or romance at any part of the book so that’s pretty disappointing. So I guess for me, this is a book that you can refuse.

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