Within days of wishing she could change her life, Fran Cooper is acting assistant to a celebrity, on a yacht in the Mediterranean, and en route to a tiny Italian island and the glittering Crystal Ball, along with the world’s rich and famous.
When she – quite literally – bumps into a handsome American called Evan, a man able to keep his cool in the face of chaos, the magic really begins.
Evan makes her a promise: no last names, no life stories, just one unforgettable night. Yet Evan belongs at the Crystal Ball and Fran is a gatecrasher. They may be soulmates, but their homes are an ocean apart, and their lives a world apart. They’ll never meet again – unless, on a night like this, everything can change forever…
This is like a contemporary version of Cinderella, a light, warm and fun delight of a novel. 32 year old Francesca Cooper is engaged, she has been with boyfriend Stew for 12 years since university, leaving behind her beloved London to move with him to Sheffield when he inherited his nanna’s house. Fran is a temp out of choice, she prides herself on being an efficient assistant, but in the run up to Christmas she is out of work and feeling anxious. When best friend Jess tells her to think out of the box, she gets in touch with an old contact who tells there is an assistant job that will last 5 days, a job that Fran would be perfect for, but she has to sign an NDA agreement prior to the London interview. Despite having promised Stew she would not take jobs that took her away from home, Fran jumps at the opportunity, and finds herself working for the famous celebrity singer, Juliette.
To her surprise she is making her way to Italy and then boarding a billionaire’s yacht, The Songbird, making its way to the island of Panarea in the Mediterranean. Juliette is set to perform at the exclusive Crystal Ball, and it’s Fran’s job to make sure that nothing derails this purpose. This turns out to be easier said than done, Juliette turns out to be nothing like Fran expected, she is friendly and not the difficult diva that she has a reputation for being. However, for the first time Fran struggles to fulfill her responsibilities as she fails to stop Juliette’s drinking. After a drunken night in which she gets completely plastered with Juliette, she wakes up to find an unco-operative Juliette declaring that she has no intention of honouring her obligation to sing at the Ball. Stranded on Panarea, Fran uncharacteristally gatecrashes the Crystal Ball in a beautiful designer gown and trainers, experiencing a night to remember when she meets the unforgettably charming Evan.
What is with chic-lit novels and their first boyfriends they mention, there’s just something about them, their all the same, assholes that the main character somehow forgives and lets their behaviour slide. The romance elements of the novel play a minor role in this entertaining modern day fairytale, this is more about the self effacing Fran, with a talent for fading into the background, sacrificing who she is and her needs, to support Stew and others around her. With input from Juliette and Evan, Fran’s world, as she knows it, begins to painfully collapse around her as she faces up to the hard and testing challenges in her path. She can no longer ignore the holes in her relationship with Stew, but as she readjusts her life so that it reflects who she is, she is blessed to be supported by the irrepressible Jess, and has gained a job that makes her happy as she gears up to the first Christmas celebrations in a long time that bring joy into her life. This is a feel good read to pick up when you want a much needed lift in your life.