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On a Night Like This by Lindsey Kelk
January 18, 2022, by Harper360/ HarperCollins
Review by Iby
I love a good contemporary British romance book… something halfway between women’s fiction and a romcom, strongly character-driven focused on a woman who needs to make changes in her life. The hero is usually in the background, and the romance is usually slow burn and clean. If you like books by Josie Silver, Mhairi McFarlane, or Maxine Morrey, this newest release by Lindsey Kelk will be right up your alley.
Fran is engaged to her college sweetheart, Stew, and feeling stuck in her life, when she accepts a job as a temporary assistant to a famous singer for five days. Suddenly, she is leaving her dour fiancé behind and is on a yacht in the Mediterranean Sea, sailing to an island off the coast of Italy for the very exclusive Crystal Ball. In the midst of her new experiences, she meets an American man, Evan, who is handsome and clever. From the moment of their meet-cute, both Evan and Fran are struck by their immediate connection, and so when Evan proposes escorting Fran around the ball (keeping everything PG), she accepts.
This book is for anyone who wants to feel like Cinderella for a day. It reminds me of a glass of champagne or a decadent truffle – I had a smile on my face for most of the book and was entertained by the secondary characters (Juliette – the pop star, and Jess – Fran’s best friend, are phenomenal). The story is pure wish fulfillment, and sometimes we need that in a book. Celebrity friends, glamorous ball, hot male love interest, even a makeover scene – all a true delight to read.
At the beginning of the book, I was worried, as Fran comes across as a bit of a doormat. We know that she has traded in her dreams for her fiancé’s comfort, and the author lets us know from the first time we meet Stew on-page that he isn’t worth it. However, as soon as Fran is aboard the yacht, I started to like her and feel committed to her happiness. With some celebrity romance books, the secondhand embarrassment of one main character being a huge fan, or not knowing who the famous person is, is real. Luckily, Fran is level-headed when it comes to Juliette – she is aware of who Juliette is, and maybe a little starstruck – but not over-the-top with her enthusiasm. I think this is aided by the fact that Evan is not a celebrity, just a very wealthy and privileged man. Based on the set-up, I was also worried that there would be cheating in this book – luckily, the author steered clear of that, and the love triangle isn’t much to write about either, with Stew set up to be very bad and Evan set up to be unbelievably good.
I love character growth in books, and we see that Fran has a lot of growing to do. She is clearly unhappy in her relationship and seems unable to change it. Unfortunately, her reasons for not leaving her fiancé are flimsy at best, and ultimately not as believable if the reader had seen any of the good parts of their relationship. I wish the author had given us some nice moments or flashbacks with Stew and Fran, so we could understand why it has been so challenging to leave this 12-year relationship. Instead, I wanted to shake Fran and yell “why are you still with him?!” multiple times throughout the book. We also never learn too much about Evan, and he stays rather perfect. If you read other books in this genre, you will not be surprised, but because we don’t know Evan very well, I’m not fully convinced of the HEA at the end.
Overall, I think this is a great book to read the next time you are in the mood for a modern-day fairytale, with some very clever dialogue and a dreamy hero. The book releases on 1/18/22, and I am sure many will enjoy the luxurious fantasy of it – especially around award season. I love when the hero falls fast, hard, and very transparently, and Evan’s obvious interest was a delight to witness. I do not regret reading a single star-struck moment of this romp – a solid B rating from me.