In Wells’ debut novel, a young editor embarks on an affair with a rock ’n’ roll guitarist in 1980s New York City.
Julia Nash is living a 1980s New York dream. She works at a publishing house (under the thumb of a lecherous boss), lives in a then-affordable walk-up apartment in SoHo, and regularly goes out dancing with her best friend, Vicky. It’s on one of those nights dancing in a club that she meets Jack Kipling, guitarist for the fictional band Four to the Floor. Despite her reservations about getting involved with a famous musician, Julia begins a romance with Jack, who seems to be genuinely interested in her despite their differences. However, as she becomes more and more involved in Jack’s life, Julia must figure out how to balance her own career with Jack’s claims on her time and emotions. Plus, is he really being as faithful to her as he claims? Wells, herself a longtime editor, does an excellent job capturing the milieu of 1980s New York, when cocaine was everywhere and cellphones were nowhere. Julia is an appealing heroine, and her quest to navigate work and love in the big city is a familiar but winning one. The other characters, from Jack and Vicky to Julia’s brassy mother and Jack’s odious band mate, Patrick, are recognizable archetypes but still unique enough to keep the reader’s attention. At times, dialogue is a bit hokey—Jack has too many lines like “You’ve really gotten under my skin. Which is where I want you.” The novel’s central idea is admittedly a bit of a fairy tale—would a rock star really fall for a brainy publishing employee?—but one that’s still delightful enough to get readers to suspend disbelief and come along for the ride. Wells includes pages from a sequel at the end; here’s hoping the next installment keeps up the charm and spirit.
A lighthearted, romantic romp.