Excellent Case Study In Storytelling. Over the last month, I’ve read all three of the books Marsh is releasing (from three different publishers) over the course of six weeks from early October 2020 through mid November 2020 (when this, the last of the books in this “series”, releases). And each has been dramatically different from the last, which speaks to Marsh’s true skill as a storyteller. Second Chance Lane, the first of the series, was a Hallmarkie romance. My Sister’s Keeper, the second, was a weaving, winding, soap opera of a tale that my wife says would work well as a Lifetime Movie.
And here, with The Boy Toy, we get arguably the most cinematic of the three books, in the vein of a multicultural Knocked Up / Hundred Foot Journey. We get an older lead female. We get a look at various facets of Indian culture (that as my friend Ritu says in her own review, many of Western cultures won’t be as familiar with – more on that momentarily). We get a more-balanced-than-usual look at the struggles of infertility as it relates to those who actually want children. (Vs childfree people like me that *don’t* want children and thus infertility is actually a blessing of sorts.) We get an age-gap *ish* romance with the *female* being the older person in the couple.
And yes, we get sex. A lot of it. And all over the place, beginning as little as 10% into the book. If you’re looking for a “clean” / “sweet” romance… you’re not gonna want this one. 😉 Similarly, getting back to the cultural issues… Marsh does a good job of not hiding at least one Indian equivalent of what I call “Talibaptists” in the US. She does a great job of showing the pressure they can wield socially and the damage it can wreak, and she doesn’t shy away from this aspect at all – instead giving a solid example of how to overcome it. Every culture has these types, sadly, but Marsh shows them in depths not often explored, particularly in a romantic comedy, and again – shows her strength as a storyteller in doing so.
Ultimately though, this is a fun and funny romantic comedy that hits all the right notes, discusses some heavy topics, but leaves you satisfied in every way text on some surface can. Very much recommended.
This review of The Boy Toy by Nicola Marsh was originally written on October 23, 2020.
Literary Soap Opera. This is a tale of dual sets of sisters roughly three decades apart making uncannily similar boneheaded moves, told primarily from the perspectives of two of the sisters in one timeline and one from the previous timeline. It is a compelling mystery with all kinds of interweaving and looping drama that truly makes it feel like a soap opera, but in a very approachable and enjoyable way. Some reveals were telegraphed early, others not until the very moment – with some pretty solid misdirection thrown in at times. Overall great story and great execution, and a remarkable contrast in storytelling style from Marsh’s earlier October 2020 release, Second Chance Lane. Very much recommended.
This review of My Sister’s Husband by Nicola Marsh was originally written on October 23, 2020.
Typical, Yet Not. This was a solid genre piece with a few nice wrinkles. If you like romance novels generally, you’re going to like this one. If you don’t, you may still actually like this one specifically because of the wrinkles. Without going into spoiler territory, the drama here just seems far more realistic than some others of the genre. You’ve got the mother with a secret. The haunted rock star. The rambunctious and inquisitve 12 yr old. But you’ve also got a second romance in this particular tale – a feature so rare as to be seemingly unique in all of my reading. Normally you get a secondary character blatantly introduced to continue the series in the next book. Here, this secondary character gets their own full story-within-the-story. This story-within-the-story serves to fill out the town and its wide cast even more fully, even as the main story does a good job in and of itself with this. Ultimately this *is* a romance novel and hits pretty well everything one expects – including on-screen (though not erotica-level explicit) sex. So if you are a reader that can’t handle such a scene (and there are less than a handful of them here, basically enough to fulfill the genre requirement and little else) or you can’t handle the occasional “curse” word (again, not prevalent, yet present), you may want to skip this due to your own hangups. For the rest of us, this was an excellent read. Very much recommended.
This review of Second Chance Lane by Nicola Marsh was originally written on October 2, 2020.