2 years ago I posted a review of You had me at Merlot by Lisa Dickenson, the novel was released in 4 parts and I loved reading it over the summer. To be honest I can't believe that was 2 years ago! But finally the day has come when this fabulous book has been published in paper back and if you haven't already grabbed a copy then I suggest you do as its amazing and perfect for the summer holidays.
To celebrate its release I have posted you my review of the brilliant book, I hope this urges you go and buy a copy.
About the book:
Elle and Laurie are the last ones standing: they're single, they're not having babies any time soon and their weekends aren't filled with joyful meetings about mortgages. For Elle, this is fine - she likes her independent life, she loves her job, and she has no desire to walk down the aisle anytime soon. But Laurie wants love and she wants it now.
So when Laurie begs Elle to come with her on a singles holiday to a beautiful vineyard in Tuscany, Elle is reluctant. You Had Me at Merlot Holidays promises crisp sunshine, fun and a chance to stir up some sizzling romance. Elle has no intention of swapping her perfectly lovely life for someone else's idea of her Mr Perfect, but ten days under the Italian sun with her best friend and lashings of wine? How bad could that be?
I have decided to review this in different parts as there are 4 parts to the story.
Elle loves her life, she is single and can do whatever she wants. She doesn't have to answer to anyone about what to watch on the T.V, how she decorates her house or how much of her life is devoted to her work. Laurie is her best friend but is completely different. She has decided that it is about time she settled down. The problem is though she is still single and is miserable because of it; she decides that it was about time that her and Elle went on holiday, not just anywhere though but to a wonderful place in Italy. What she reluctantly tells Elle is that it is a singles holiday. This does not thrill Elle with excitement but as she is a good, supporting friend, agrees to go along.
I really liked Elle and Laurie as characters, right from the beginning I felt I could connect to them and wanted to tag along with them on their holiday to Italy. Although both girls are on the holiday for different reasons, they seem to balance each other really well and they both have some great one liners!
At times I was laughing out loud! I must say the funniest part of part 1 I think has to be the incident with the Botox...
'Laurie dunked her face back in. I sat on the toilet (with the seat down, we're not thatclose) while she repeated the face- dunking several times and admired the bathroom.'
I could not stop laughing about this, I could actually see this playing out in my head and wanted to be in the bathroom with the girls!
Part one is a great introduction to this book, it allows you to feel familiar with the characters and gives you a snippet of what you are in store for. This is a brilliant entrance to 'You had me at Merlot' and after reading this part you are going to want to download the next straight away!
Part 2 is where we meet Jamie! The owners son and the vineyard creator! We also are in for a surprise when we meet Elle's boss! This is not something you expect to happen to you on a singles holiday, oh and poor Elle, she has worked so hard with her image and reputation at work and now she feels she can't let her hair down as her boss, Donna will look down on her...
There is so much we learn in part two and the pace of the book is excellent, we are introduced to the first 'getting to know one another' challenges is a blindfolded wine tasting game. This is where guests will be matched up depending on the wine they seem to have a taste for. Then jumping straight into grape crushing and a trip to Florence! This part really has it all; if you weren't already racing through the book, you will be now!
We also begin to see a different side of Elle, she wants to keep a low profile and has stated she is not interested in finding a partner, this is not the reason she is on the trip! However 'George' the most annoying character in the world is born and continues to try his luck!!!
I absolutely loved the trip to Florence, from visiting myself I felt I had been transported back there again and could picture where all the characters were. If you haven't been to Florence, after reading part two, you are going to want to jump on the next plane there, even if it is only to see the statue of David...
I would say the trip to Florence I think is one of my favourite parts of the book at the moment, not only is it a beautiful setting but it just seems to be turning out wrong for poor Jamie and Elle, everyone on the trip is annoying and you just wish they would bug off!
So here are some of my favourite quotes from part 2...
''Yes, go in, look around, go up the dome if you dare.'
Jane stepped forward. 'Is there a lift?'
'There's not going to be a bloody lift, you bloody idiot!' shrieked Vicky.'
I loved this, had me rolling in stitches! I also loved the photo incident with David, couldn't quote that! Would be the longest quote in the world! You will just have to grab yourself a copy to know which bit I am talking about!
''Well those mannequins do have fantastic bums,' I coughed.'
Admiring the views in a sexy undies shop... again very funny!
As you can see things are hotting up and you will need to pre order part 3 to continue with the story, it is ace and once you will want on your kindle this summer!
I began to really get hooked into You Had Me at Merlot in part 3, I was loving it and racing through the pages so quick I didn't want it to end!
I really enjoyed the misinterpreted marriage proposal and this had me not wanting to put the book down. Barriers between Donna and Elle begin to break down and they both realise there is more to each other than their work lives. Elle, becomes enlightened about aspects of the company she works for she didn't know and Donna is thinking about changing direction, can they help each other?
I really love this part of the book, everyone is beginning to come together and it shows that strangers can come together to make something wonderful happen. New friendships blossom and the setting just keeps getting beautiful, god! Take me to Italy now!
Some of my faviourite quotes from this part? Oh go on then!
'Nothing. Shit - ask me.'
'Do you mean "shoot"?''
I actually could not stop laughing when I read this! I had to calm down before I could carry on as I thought I would be missing the next part!
''What if I didn't shave my legs?'
'I don't shave mine, so I can't complain.''
Another classic and I wonder if all blokes look at it this way?
Another brilliant part from Dickenson and if you already have not downloaded part 4 you need to now as you are not going to want to miss it!
Although the book is a very funny one, there are also moments of sadness and times to make you think and question your own life, which is done brilliantly. Friendship is covered brilliantly and the strength and what you would do for your friends really brings it home. Elle never wanted to go on a singles holiday but she did for her best friend; as it turns out she discovered a lot about herself and others around her.
There is something that will really shock you in part 3 and you will not have been expecting it at all! This as a reader changed my opinion on some people in the story (I don't want to say too much so not to spoil it for you.)
This is a whole journey, you feel you have been on along with Laurie and Elle and all the other guests that have arrived on their holiday.
So favourite quote of part 4?
''Owww,' she warbled from inside the hedge. 'Get off, these are expensive knickers.'
The story as a whole is not that long, however it feels so much longer, Dickenson has a way with words to include so much into paragraphs. I was only a few pages away from the end and another big part of the story happened, I had no idea how it was going to end. It was wrapped up wonderfully though and didn't feel rushed at all.
I thoroughly enjoyed all parts of this story and it is one I would read again and again. It is one to include in your suitcase for you holiday; if you are not going away this year you are still going to not want to miss out on this! It is perfect even for afternoons in the garden and of course with a lovely glass of wine!
I would like to thank the publisher for sending me this in exchange for an honest review.
About the Author:
LISA DICKENSON was born in the wrong body. She was definitely meant to be Beyonce. Despite this hardship, she grew up in Devon attempting to write her own, completely copyright-infringing versions of Sweet Valley High, before giving Wales a go for university, and then London a go for the celeb-spotting potential. She's now back in Devon, living beside the seaside with her husband and forcing cream teas down the mouths of anyone who'll visit. She is sadly still not Beyonce.
Lisa's first novel, The Twelve Dates of Christmas, winner of the Novelicious Debut of the Year Award, was an instant hit with readers who were won over by her wit, charm and naughty sense of humour - she's got her fingers crossed that everyone feels the same about You Had Me at Merlot.
Follow her on Twitter for all her book news and Beyonce-related chatter: @LisaWritesStuff