I read Lucy Bexley’s Must Love Silence last year and enjoyed it so much that I snapped up her newest book, No Strings, when I saw it.
Ms Bexley writes a great rom-com with quirky characters that, despite their personal oddities, feel well grounded and real. You can’t help but feel engaged by the characters and situations and there’s often some underlying seriousness that balances things out.
Elsie Webb is the lead puppeteer of Fangley Heights, a children’s show featuring a blue vampire who lives with a foster family in Brooklyn and has weekly adventures and teachable moments. Elsie is impulsive, sweet and prone to hilarious tangents. She really doesn’t care what others think or do; her heart is in her art and her motto is to ask for forgiveness rather than permission. Unfortunately, her rather slapdash nature resulted in her engaging a rather questionable agent and she’s stuck trying to renegotiate a contract with a smarmy executive who seems intent on ousting her and promoting his nephew on the popular show that she created. Elsie’s the kind of person you want to hang out with – you never know what the next adventure’s going to be and she’s really got a heart of gold. There are some really great scenes with her BFF/roomate Avery, and quite honestly, we all should have an Avery in our lives.
Enter Jones Haelstrom, the interim CEO for Haelstrom Media after the sudden death of her estranged father. Not only is she running the company she never wanted to be involved in, her (younger) step-mother has foisted her six year old brother (whom she’s never met) on Jones when she leaves town for some “me time”. Jones is a fascinating character – she’s led a relatively socially isolated and structured life and now she’s trying to figure out how to deal with a six year old and reassess what she wants out of life. There’s a sweet kind of vulnerability and socially awkwardness that seems to leave her a bit perplexed as she navigates the new stresses and trying to do what’s right. There’s a wonderfully understated line in the book that seems to be a bit of a turning point where she stops overthinking and “stopped wondering what the right things was and just focused on making the things she was doing right.”
The pairing of Elsie and Jones is particularly effective. Not only is there a nice chemistry between them; their personalities, as opposite as they are, compliment each other perfectly. You can’t help but think they really are a perfect match and root for them as a couple. This is primarily a light-hearted romance – a meet cute and a nice build up of the relationship – with a lot of humour and fun thrown in to keep the pace moving. There’s some more serious undertones in the book, specifically with Jones’ Bipolar disorder (handled remarkably well) and some drama around a controversial episode of Fangley Heights.
All in all an enjoyable read with fun characters and a lot of antics that made me smile.
Ms Bexley’s novels are available as part of Kindle Unlimited, so I really do recommend you give her a try – there’s no risk and a lot of reward.