When Kate Billings, a second-year lawyer at Krapp & Lipschitz, attends her annual performance review, the partners object to her freckles and pro bono work, ignoring the record amount of billable hours she has put in for the Scottsdale, Arizona, firm. While Kate waits for news about her bonus, journalist Dylan Mathison interviews her about her pro bono case and asks, “Are you happy?” After Kate gets only a ham and concealer for her bonus, she trashes the office that night, although the evening maintenance staff quickly cleans up the damage. Still, Kate decides a change is in order, so she books a flight to Barcelona to find Diego, the handsome exchange student who lived with her family 10 years ago. She considers him the love of her life; he was nice to her even though she was overweight; she shed her extra pounds in law school. Upon arriving in Barcelona, Kate undergoes a series of adventures. Bonnie, a boozy pal met on the plane, doesn’t remember offering up a crash pad, and when treating herself to a swank solo dinner, Kate attracts the attention of a suave playboy celebrity. Kate eventually connects with Diego—although it’s while she’s wearing her retainer—and enjoys brief yet lucrative modeling and lawyering stints that both focus on feet. By novel’s end, Kate faces several truths and takes the steps that will allow her to affirmatively answer that journalist’s question. Parker has a lot of fun with this tale of ugly duckling empowerment, a hybrid of Ugly Betty and Bridget Jones’s Diary. The narrative is littered with wonderful snarky swipes at the legal profession, such as Kate’s difficulty in breaking the billable hours habit in her personal life (“Drink coffee: 0.2 hours”) and a partner’s boast that she files briefs that contain no verbs. Sometimes Kate’s wisecracking undercuts her vulnerability, although she’s ultimately endearing and always entertaining.
Enjoyable chick lit with a rollicking, humorous plot.