From Notting Hill With Love ... Actually (Actually #1) by Ali McNamara
Published: 1 November 2010 by Sphere
Pages: 448 (paperback)
Genre/s: Adult, Romance
Source: Own library
She was just a girl, standing in front of a boy . . . wishing he looked more like Hugh Grant.
Scarlett loves the movies. But does she love sensible fiancé David just as much? With a big white wedding on the horizon, Scarlett really should have decided by now . . .
When she has the chance to house-sit in Notting Hill - the setting of one of her favourite movies - Scarlett jumps at the chance. But living life like a movie is trickier than it seems, especially when her new neighbour Sean is so irritating. And so irritatingly handsome, too.
Scarlett soon finds herself starring in a romantic comedy of her very own: but who will end up as the leading man?
When I was packing for my trip to Australia, I allowed myself to take five paperback books with me. Primarily for the purpose of airplane reading I chose books that I didn't actually have to concentrate too hard to enjoy - and I chose From Notting Hill With Love....Actually because it sounded like a book I could read in bits and pieces and not get frustrated with myself if I had to re-read a few pages because I wasn't concentrating.
The premise of the book is a fun one, particularly as I love the same types of movies as Scarlett - Love Actually is one of my favourite films of all time, and I also really liked Notting Hill. And there are a lot of movie references throughout the book which I really enjoyed.
Scarlett is, for the most part, a pretty likable character. Although her motivation is a little questionable when it comes to her fiance, she's not an overly complicated character - what you see is pretty much what you get, and considering the situations she finds herself in, the plot fits her personality. However, it's also a little bit of a downfall because I found it hard to take her very seriously, and even though I was looking for a lighthearted read, having a character that is so straightforward was a little bit disappointing.
However, the romance is really sweet - it's lighthearted at times, but there's also a serious side, and the interactions between Scarlett, David and Sean felt realistic - the whole book gives the feeling of reading a romantic comedy with a serious edge.
The plot edges on the side of predictable, but there are also some other elements that I didn't expect, especially when it came to Scarlett. By the end of the book she'd dealt with some issues not related to her romantic relationships even though she had obviously found it difficult to deal with, and I really appreciated that McNamara put that extra element into the story.
From Notting Hill with Love....Actually is a fun book, and I'd definitely recommend it as a lighthearted holiday read, and I loved the romance and movie references - and now I'm off to watch Love, Actually.