From British author Noble (The Reading Group, 2005), a romance that revolves around an alphabet’s worth of dates that climaxes on a trip to Las Vegas.
After 35-year-old Natalie is dumped by her snarky longtime boyfriend, her oldest friend, Tom, proverbial boy next door, takes her out for New Year’s Eve for some cheering-up. He half-jokingly proposes a game to prove to Natalie that she could fall for him: They will go on 26 dates, taking turns choosing the activity, one for each letter. Don’t expect suspense here. Tom is kind, sensitive, cute and easy-going, yet manly. He is obviously crazy about Natalie, and all of Natalie’s friends and family recognize he’s perfect for her. In fact, he has already started to win her over by B, when the difficult Birth of her sister Bridget’s new Baby allows them to escape the Ballet. (Proudly low-brow, Tom and Natalie disdain high-falutin’ culture like ballet, opera and Ian McEwan.) In H for Hotel, they drunkenly make out but pull back. In P for Paris, they spend a romantic day and almost kiss, but again are not ready. It takes the magic of V for Vegas to ignite their passion (the alphabet’s last four letters are the anticlimactic wind-down to the inevitable proposal of marriage). In counterpoint to Natalie and Tom’s blossoming romance, Natalie’s parents struggle to find equilibrium as they age and as illness enters their lives, while the marriage of Tom’s brother Patrick and his wife Lucy disintegrates after Patrick loses his job and Lucy has an affair with her best friend’s husband. Meant to be a warning, Lucy and Patrick steal the show by allowing in an occasional fresh breeze of unhappiness.
Slick, skillful, predictable—and bound to be a bestseller. The cover includes a “win a trip to Vegas” offer.