What if you found out you were the ugly friend?
Emma Frazier is smart, hardworking, and loves her job as a journalist for a Florida lifestyle magazine. Emma knows she’s no great beauty, but she’s pretty certain she has a shot with her handsome new boss, Ben Gallagher—until Emma overhears a mutual acquaintance refer to her as the “ugly friend.”
In an effort to reclaim her battered self-esteem, Emma decides to impress Ben at work by promising an exclusive interview with NASCAR legend, Trip Monroe. Emma and Trip went to high school together and although it’s been fourteen years since they’ve spoken, Emma is certain she can score an interview with the elusive super star.
But connecting with Trip turns out to be harder than Emma imagined. Her quest for the interview leads her back to her tiny hometown of Catfish Cove, where old secrets and a new romantic interest shake up Emma’s views on life and teach her that maybe the key to finding true love is as simple as accepting yourself for the person you were always meant to be.
And here is Emily's review:
In a back from the dead twist, here’s chick lit! Chick Lit is still alive! Who knew?
Chick Lit seemed to me to die a fiery death after
a) selling out to become a pissing match of designer labels.
(Ex: I wasn’t sure he’d like me since my Prada suit was like a year old and I was wearing my favorite Manolo Blahniks from two years ago.)
b) The recession happened and people couldn’t afford designers.
I personally dislike designer labels in books and I hate when they are tied to the heroine’s self esteem or opinion of herself—see above. I think it’s incredibly shallow to judge anyone, even yourself, based on brands, and I would be pissed if a guy did that. Fortunately there were no designer labels in this book, although Krispy Kremes were included.
The point was I never saw myself as chick-lit kind of girl, and I enjoyed this book. It’s told in a first person that feels like you’re on the phone and she’s your girlfriend talking to you.
“Let me tell you about Torie.
I’ve known Torie Jacobs since I moved to Tampa after graduating from the University of Florida ten years ago. She was a friend of friend and at the time neither of us could afford our own apartment, so we were roommates for about two years. Until the Great Tuna Fish Incident. Which we can laugh about now, but at the time was pretty traumatic.”
There is more to that story, but you can see what the tone is like. In many ways, this book felt more like a comedy movie than romance, complete with some gross moments involving cows.
“Let me tell you about cow-chip bingo.
It is exactly what the name implies. Basically, you mark off a large field of grass into squares. Then you get some well-fed cows and wait until they do their business. If their business lands on a square you’ve bought, you win a prize. In this case it’s cash. Half the cash raised from selling the squares goes for prizes and the other half goes to the charity of choice. It’s a win-win situation for everyone. Cows included.” (Geraci, 55)
As a northerner, stuff like this seems weird and sort of gives off the wacky south or more accurately the wacky Florida image. I liked how embedded this book seemed in its Tampa setting. Emma, the heroine, works for a magazine called Florida!, and in a way this is a love story of a woman and her job. Occasionally, Emma seems like she could be anywhere between 35 and 5, and I doubted her. As I continued to read, I saw a woman who loves who she is, loves what she does, and has real understanding of her place in the world. She is still finding herself romantically, but knows who she is professionally, socially, and as part of her family. (I loved her moms and the relationship between the heroine and her parents.)
I also appreciated how up-to-date the whole book was. The heroine uses social media, and for the most part understands it. The one misstep was when she posted she was in a relationship with someone on Facebook and didn’t realize his family probably has Facebook accounts too. However, people text, use computers, and tweet. It felt very 2012 and not anytime between 1980 and 2010.
I haven’t mentioned much about the romance. Neither did the back of the book. There is an HEA and the hero is part of the story. Still the heroine spent more time going after other men. The romance is there, but I didn’t really feel connected to the hero as I would in a normal romance. I was disappointed so many of the men were so damaged and I felt my favorite male character was kind of ruined to the point that I wasn’t sure I liked him. I felt the other female characters deserved better. Even though the romance is light, this is a light-hearted comedy that’s soothing on a bad day and a fun read for the beach.