What A Girl Wants (A Girl #2)
Copy courtesy of Harper Collins AUS
Please note: This review assumes a familiarity with the first A Girl novel, About A Girl and will contain general ***SPOILERS*** for the happenings in that book. This book is best not read as stand-alone and should be read after About A Girl.
Tess Brookes still has a choice to make. She could stay in London and start up a new advertising company with her best friend, and the man she’s loved for the past decade. Or she can throw caution to the wind and jet off to Milan to help Albert Bennett by photographing his latest project. And Tess cannot decide which one she wants to do. She’s a planner, so the safety of London and the promise of security with the new job and agency, beckons to her. She has no where to live at the moment, no money and she doesn’t cope very well with not being gainfully employed.
But then there’s Milan. And the dream of photography, which is something that has always been in the back of her mind and, as it turns out, something that she might be really good at. And of course it’s not just a choice between London and advertising versus Milan and photography. It’s also about Charlie and Nick.
Charlie is the one that Tess has loved since university. But after his awkwardness and inability to return her feelings, she jetted off to Hawaii under false pretenses and there she met Nick. He was difficult and rude and gorgeous and irresistible and many other things and Tess knows she needs to fix how it ended badly between them.
But the problems only keep piling up for Tess – she finds herself agreeing to both things and caught in an even more complicated position between Charlie and Nick. Is she ever going to figure out what she wants? And if so…is she going to be able to actually tell the people involved?
So About A Girl, the first novel in this series was lots of fun and I was so keen to dive into this one and find out what Tess decides, because basically she’s hopeless at making decisions and the previous book ended on a cliffhanger. To most people, this would be a no brainer: go to Milan! Take beautiful photos! Enjoy seeing people like Al and Kekipi again! And of course, find out what is going on with that angry ball of angst, Nick. But because Tess is Tess, she gets herself into an even more complicated situation with Charlie first.
And yet I can’t help but love Tess, despite the numerous mistakes she makes and the fact that she cannot seem to express herself properly to people! All she needed to do was actually talk to people in this book and it would’ve gone so much easier for her. But she hides and procrastinates and put things off until the end when she’s finally ready to talk to everyone about everything but by then so much has happened and people have discovered things and it’s messy. But I am someone who avoids confrontation too and hates putting myself out there, so I also understand her, even as I’m cringing for her and at her!
Nick is as bi-polar as ever in this novel, but not without good reason. At the end of the previous novel he found out that “Vanessa” was really Tess and given the issues he has around truthfulness and honesty he’s angry. And yet he can’t keep away from her either and when he turns up in Milan to work with Al as well, the two of them have some amazing moments of chemistry and heartbreak. Nick is so angsty and he’s such a bastard at times but you sort of can’t help but like him anyway because I think he keeps Tess on her toes. She needs someone that believes in her but also someone who really challenges her and forces her to be open and not hide herself away. She wasted years of her life pining after Charlie, who never really saw her until he was given no choice. And I get the feeling that Charlie is so lazy that Tess has become the ‘easy option’ for him. She’s someone that he thinks will probably always be there, steady and reliable.
I loved the setting, it’s always nice to visit exotic locations in fiction given I’m not about to visit them in reality! I really like the character of Al and the relationship that Tess has built up with him. He believes in her as well and he’s always encouraging her to go for it and just trust in herself. He has given her such amazing opportunities and I also really enjoy the little plot that concerns him and his son and I’m so keen to see where that goes. This book is obviously not the last we’ll see of Tess, Nick, Al and the gang and I’m sure there’s a lot more still to come.
There’s one thing that kind of does bother me and that’s the fact that Tess keeps claiming to herself that she’s not a drinker, that she doesn’t drink, that she can’t handle it but then basically drinks until she vomits every night, sometimes into gutters. She is a drinker and she’s drinking quite a lot. I didn’t count the amount of drinks she consumed in this novel but there’s a lot of her grabbing another glass or pouring herself another drink, or knocking back the one she’s holding, or ordering another round. It gets a bit wearying at times, because she’s on this job and it seems like she’s getting hammered every night and complaining of a hangover every morning. Her friend Amy wasn’t much help here, seeming to view this as one huge party (why was she even there anyway? The way she shoehorned herself into this trip was ridiculous, and I basically hate Amy and think she’s a terrible friend and don’t know why Tess thinks she’s so amazing) guilting Tess into going out with her and drinking all the time and sulking if Tess actually wants to stay back and work. Um, Tess is working. Or supposed to be? Not a lot actually gets done in this book, really!
The way this one ended has made me quite anxious for the next one and it’s going to be quite a long wait! Lindsey Kelk has created a really fun character in Tess and put her in a situation where you want to see her succeed and learn to just believe in herself and have the courage to stand on her own two feet. She knows what she wants now and I think the next book is going to hopefully be all about getting it.
Book #159 of 2014