An Offer You Can’t Refuse by Jill Mansell

17 year old Lola is blissfully in love with Dougie, but his mother is disapproving of their relationship. With Dougie about to go to university, his mother offers Lola £10,000 to break up with him, and she is aghast at this. Yet, new problems surface and Lola is forced to reluctantly take the money, breaking up with Dougie and starting a new life abroad. 10 years later, Lola returns to the UK and soon crosses paths with Dougie again. Upon seeing him, Lola realises that she still loves him, but Dougie seems far from forgiving. Lola sets her sights on winning him back, but can Dougie let go from the past?

The story is funny to read, and Lola is extremely likeable as the main character. Although you cannot always condone her actions, and her self-confidence is enormous, she comes across as a witty, smart and fun person. As a reader, you get gripped by her story. Some of the supporting characters were good, such as Blythe – her relationship with her daughter is a joy to read – loving but real, as Blythe is not afraid to confront her daughter at times. Sally is a good comical character although she can veer on irritating at times. One character that I have to criticise is Dougie. Mansell provides no insight into his character, so the reader is unaware that he still loves Lola until the very end, and throughout the story, he only really comes across as one-dimensional. He acts hateful towards Lola and there is nothing redeeming about him that the reader wants the two to get back together – in fact you think that Lola should find a new guy instead!

When it comes to the ending, as a reader, you are happy for Lola in that she got what she wanted, but it doesn’t seem to come together well. This is partly because there is no indication into how Dougie feels and he only decides to confront her towards the end about what happened in the past. Surely he would have thought to have done that earlier on in the story if he still loved her so much?! The part when he mentions that his mother approves of their relationship at the end seems tacked on. His mother spend so much effort and money in keeping the two apart and yet the reader is meant to believe that she is now ok with the whole thing?! The story resolves itself in a happy ending, albeit in an uneasy and uncohesive manner.

There are also issues in the story, such as Gabe and Sally’s romance. It was predictable but the way it was introduced into the story didn’t work for me. It seemed random and out of place. It isn’t really believeable that the two would become a couple. Similarly, I felt that the storyline between Gabe and Savannah was a bit of a distraction to the main story. It didn’t really add anything to the narrative and felt a bit tedious to read. I’m not criticising Gabe’s character completely though. I like the platonic friendship he shares with Lola, just not his romantic relationships.

Overall, it is a good story although let down by weak characterisation and poor plotlines. 3 stars (just)

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