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Claire Robyns – Second-Guessing Fate

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Putting your entire trust in a fortune teller rather than your man doesn’t tend to be the best thing.

Publisher: Carina Press (Harlequin)
Pages: 142
Type: Fiction
Age: Adult
ISBN: 978-1-4268-9232-5
First Published: 26th September 2011
Date Reviewed: 26th November 2011
Rating: 3/5

Gemma has been unlucky in love. Her previous long relationship ended when the man left her a day from the aisle and it took her some time to get over it. Being anxious that her friend should move on properly, Helen takes her to have her fortune told; Gemma is to suffer heartbreak again before meeting her soul mate, and while she finds nothing credible in the old woman’s tarot cards – indeed the woman didn’t even finish the story – Helen will be there promoting the mystic’s words, every step of the way.

Second-Guessing Fate is, in summary, the Hollywood film How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days. The only major difference between the two tales is that Robyns replaces the writing gig with a fortune teller. But that doesn’t mean that it’s automatically bad for being a duplicate, and in many ways Second-Guessing Fate is better than the film, being that there is more time for character development and that the hero, Nick, is simply sublime.

Gemma is, for the most part, a good character. She doesn’t fall for the fortune teller’s words and laughs at Helen’s thoughts. Depending on the reader’s own beliefs on relationships one may find it difficult to understand why Gemma is so adamant that her time with Nick is going nowhere simply because they haven’t had sex, and her ideas for her business are peculiar, but it’s hard not to like her. Nick is, as said, sublime. He has just been dumped by a woman who told him how bad a boyfriend he was, and is on a mission to change. His development is very apparent, because it is his subplot. Although Gemma throws some awful things at him he takes it in his stride and continues to love her.

So it would be best right now to say what does not work in this book. Unfortunately it is predictable that as the book continues, Gemma suddenly changes her tune and starts to believe in the fortune. It occurs when Helen remarks that Gemma looks exactly like her grandmother, and is just too unrealistic – Gemma would’ve seen the photograph of her grandmother before and should therefore know that she looks like her. The strong woman suddenly changing and becoming silly is off-putting.

However silly it can be, though, it is still rather funny. In fact if Gemma’s story is trying not to love a man she “knows” will dump her, then Nick’s is trying to love a girl despite the sudden changes that come over her when she seemingly becomes a parasite – he clings on right back while she is trying to get him to hate her. The scenes between Nick and his married friends are both funny and endearing, and the way the men come across makes one quite sad that their conversations were written by a woman and not a man.

Gemma is a cook, the owner of a tiny catering company, and Robyns uses this when she’s writing about body parts and sex scenes, and also, sometimes, miscellaneous things. This reviewer doubts that any more description is needed here for the reader to imagine the sorts of things that get included. Besides from the cooking metaphors the sex scenes are comfortable enough to read. There are just as many fades to black as there are full descriptions and there is no awkward terminology.

But the subplot of the burgeoning company is another negative. Gemma wants a contract with a big name supplier and in order to be in with a chance she has to attend a blueberry pie fair. Her blueberry pies get ruined so instead she fills bowls with liquor and puts blueberries in them. A cute idea perhaps, but hardly a show of talent.

Second-Guessing Fate could have done without the sudden yet all too predictable changes in thinking, but it’s not past the use by date (sorry, I couldn’t help myself). And it’s worth the read just to meet Nick.

I received this book for review from Carina Press.

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