Tess is edging toward 30 and she has her life all planned out. She is an advertising and marketing whiz and is expecting a big promotion at work for all the years she's made her job her priority. Instead of the promised promotion, she's let go. Then she subsequently goes home for a christening and has a justified fight with her mother. Her relationship with her half sisters isn't outstanding either. Then, one of her two best friends, on whom she's had an unrequited crush for ten years, comforts her and when things get too close and personal, he runs for the hills. As if that isn't enough, she lives with a completely horrid, bitchy flatmate named Vanessa who once took Tess' good camera in lieu of a rent payment and has since refused to sell it back to Tess. Completely shattered with her long range plan down the tubes, Tess wallows in the ruins of her life, but when she answers a phone call offering the unpleasant Vanessa a photography gig in Hawaii, Tess, posing as Vanessa, inexplicably seizes the moment and accepts the job for herself. With Vanessa out of town, Tess grabs some of her designer clothing, re-appropriates her camera, and hops on a plane to Hawaii to take a fashion shoot centered around a legendary department store mogul.
Once in Hawaii, Tess rediscovers her love for photography; finds herself alternately attracted to and aggravated by the incredibly good looking, arrogant ass of a journalist assigned to write the story to accompany her photos; learns a little about herself and about love from an old guy on the beach; and faces up to the identity crisis she's having and the reasons behind it. Tess starts off the book as a perfectionist defined by her job. She's been straight and narrow her entire life but suddenly she's grabbing at spontaneity and damning the consequences. She can come across as immature and whiny at times, especially when she's moaning about her long time love for Charlie. Mostly though, she's pretty sympathetic, even when she's up to her eyeballs in lies and mistakes of her own devising. The secondary characters are a little bit stereotypical: the fun gay major domo, the ballsy and supportive best friend, the wise man on the beach, and of course, her nasty and talentless roommate Vanessa and Nick, the sizzling, broody love interest. But this is really Tess' fantasy life wrapped up in a completely over the top situation so their being a bit stock is forgivable.
Everything about this book is frothy and escapist, both for Tess and for the reader. The tone of the book is generally lighthearted despite the dire beginning and the book as a whole sparkles with entertainment. It is predictable but also fast-paced and humorous. The ending is frustratingly unresolved; you have to read the sequel to find out how Tess comes out in the end. But this fun and flirty caper that looks at learning to have confidence in yourself and your skills and at facing life's bumps, big and little, head-on is a delightful beach read of a tale and will make you want to grab the sequel in any case.
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Thanks to Trish from TLC Book Tours and the publisher for sending me a copy of the book for review.