Mormon housewife meets British heartthrob, and the two become best friends. Disbelief is duly suspended.
Hale, author of a number of imaginative YA titles and an adult novel (Austenland, 2007), here offers a strange concoction: a romantic comedy missing romantic leads. In Los Angeles to sell a screenplay (what luck, and on her first try!), pregnant Becky bumps into Felix Callahan (think Colin Firth/Hugh Grant). They engage in the kind of witty repartee that hasn’t been heard since Carole Lombard graced the screen, and become bosom buddies. Becky returns to Utah and her husband Mike, resuming their happy suburban life filled with church and children. This leaves little room for a movie-star friend, especially since Felix is sophisticated, in possession of a “potty mouth” and an atheist with an aversion to children, while Becky is devoted to her kids, baking and the million other domestic miracles that occupy a day. Yet this mismatched pair improbably adore each other, and Mike is jealous. Though concerned—as are friends, family and church—Becky finally decides it is alright to be at home alone with a man who is not her husband: Felix, who is happily married to a French model, can be her friend! They chat every day and even make a movie together. (Yes! Starring Becky!) The odd, safe fantasy Hale has created is then jangled by a more sober realism. Mike gets cancer, and the domestic bliss Becky has enjoyed comes to a crushing end. Becky’s devotion to her husband, her depression, her inability to see a romantic future for herself—all these elements ring true and tragic. Unfortunately, the novel hinges on Felix and Becky’s relationship, and aside from a mutual love of quick-witted banter, their friendship is largely unbelievable.
Hale’s prose is friendly and funny, but she doesn’t bring her premise to life.