Remember when I said I was going to spend 90% of my reading time reading silly British chick lit from now on? I’m sticking to it. Whereas Sophie Kinsella/Madeleine Wickham and Marian Keyes books make me literally LOL, Jill Mansell books make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside and want to live along the English countryside). Don’t Want To Miss A Thing is no exception.
Dex is one of London’s most eligible bachelors, partying every night and breaking up with a different girl every week. He is beside himself with love when his older sister Laura has a baby somewhat late in life, and then he is beside himself with grief when Laura dies in a freak accident and leaves the baby in Dex’s care. He is justifiably freaked out about going from party boy to caregiver, so he escapes to a cottage he just bought in Briarwood, an adorable English country town filled with its own delightful little characters.
Frankie and Joe run the local cafe, which exists solely because it was the setting of a short-lived but beloved British sitcom. Molly, Frankie’s friend, teaches art classes at the cafe in her spare time when she’s not drawing newspaper comic strips (one of those jobs you never realize is an actual job), and lives in the cottage next door to Dex. The two start out as neighbors, then good friends, then an undefined and complicated more-than-friends, but of course. Henry is a friend of Dex’s from London who falls in love with Frankie from just a picture of her, and that ends up working out fine because Frankie finds out through her daughter Amber that her husband Joe has been leading a double life with another woman and another child for the last 17 years. More awkwardness ensues when Lois, the abrasive and cleavage-displaying Briarwood pub owner, keeps hitting on Henry, who only has eyes for Frankie. Then there’s Lois’ father, Stefan, who is apparently the long lost love interest of Hope, former star of the aforementioned sitcom, who surprises Frankie one day by stopping into the cafe. And don’t forget about Amanda, the local doctor, who ends up in a sort-of relationship with Dex, which is only because Molly starts dating Vince, a stunningly handsome architect who also happens to be a complete dud, but possibly perfect for someone like Lois.
It sounds quite complicated, and perhaps we don’t really need ALL of these characters and stories, but the novel is so overall pleasant (except for Laura dying) that it doesn’t matter. The only thing that bothers me is that Dex quits his unspecified London job to move to the country and take care of the baby, but he never gets another job. He just lives in Briarwood, jobless, and is able to go out to dinners with Molly and Amanda and buy groceries and baby necessities from the money he already had? Now THAT’S unrealistic!