Sunday, 29 March 2015

"Meet Me in Manhattan" by Claudia Carroll

Holly Johnson has met her dream man.  Clever, handsome, articulate and, more importantly, single.  A transatlantic pilot from Atlanta, Georgia, he is as real catch and sets her pulse racing everytime she hears his voice or reads his messages on her phone.  The only thing is, they can't seem to meet face to face.  Welcome to the world of online dating.  Where little white lies ping into inboxes all over the world, and for every success story, there are plenty of disasters too.   
Holly soon discovers that all is not quite what it seems, and her ideal man is far from the character she fell for.  There is only one thing for it: A trip to NY where she can confront him...

Claudia Carroll is one of Ireland's best loved authors and rather than shying away from the dreaded 'chick-lit' label, she embraces it.  This is an admirable act, as there seems to be a note of distaste lately for said label.  Personally, I have no qualms whatsoever about admitting to reading (and enjoying) these light, fun and relaxing books.  I read most genres and sometimes there is nothing nicer than closing the cover of an academic title, a harrowing newspaper article or even just closing the door at the end of a long day, and picking up a book that means you can switch off, unwind and escape the real world for an hour or two.  If this sounds appealing, then Claudia is the one for you...

From the opening pages it was obvious to the reader that Holly had fallen for the new trick on the block; the Catfish.  A hurtful, dishonest side effect of online dating, these people create completely fabricated online personas and reel in their victims.  The image of Holly sitting in the middle of a busy Dublin restaurant, on a Saturday night, waiting for Andy to arrive on their pre-arranged date, was a little bit heartbreaking.  Then the vision of her dashing across the city to meet him in The Shelbourne Hotel before closing time was a little bit cringe worthy.  But the moment where she realises that she has been duped was the sad part.  Her well meaning friend, Joy, along with her Polish security guard boyfriend, have to break the news that the Southern 'pilot' is not who he seems.  The reader is then brought across the Atlantic as Holly faces the truth, head on.  The descriptions of Manhattan and surrounding areas, are just awe inspiring.  The author obviously has a deep love of the city that never sleeps and adds a touch of sparkle to the pages where Holly comes across its well known sites for the first time.  It is years since I have travelled to New York and having been there during a snow storm, I could identify with the setting of this novel straight away.  A delight to look at and wonderful to experience on foot, not so great for catching a flight out of...

The use of humour is one of Claudia's trademarks, and this novel oozes wit and charm.  I loved Holly's innocence, while the sharpness of Joy and Krzysztof added extra entertainment.  I just wish there was more from this great couple.  All chick-lit has its predictability, and this is no exception.  But, as far as escapisim goes, you could do a lot worse than hanging with Holly as she discovers the delights of New York (especially Grand Central Station).  This is chick-lit as it's meant to be.  Warm, entertaining and with destinations to die for! 

Meet Me in Manhattan is published by Avon Books and is available in TPB and ebook format

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