A Walk in the Park

Jill Mansell
November 2012, Chick Lit
Sourcebooks Landmark, $14.00, 448 pages, Amazon ASIN 1402269943

Grade: B
Sensuality: Subtle

The beginning of A Walk in the Park was a bit slow for me. Add into the mix a secret baby plot and I wasnít sure how much I would like this. But fairly soon I realized I was smiling. And instead of taking copious notes for my review, I was reading and enjoying the book. Not only is this good, itís lovely.

Lara Carson is in Bath to attend her fatherís funeral. She hasnít been in town since she was 16 and her father and step-mother threw her out of their home for missing curfew (yes, they were just that awful). Laraís at the funeral because an attorney called and told her she to come to learn about the will. When Lara leaves the church she finds her former best friend Evie is waiting for her. Evie always wondered what happened to Lara, as Laraís father would only say that Lara was gone and wouldnít return.

When Lara learns sheís inherited the family home she and her 16-year old daughter move back to Bath. This is tricky as her daughterís father Flynn, Laraís love when she was 16, doesnít know he has a daughter. Iím not too fond of secret baby stories, but as I learned more about the circumstances of Laraís actions they made more sense.

The story shifts back and forth between Lara and Evie. I took to Evieís story more quickly. Evieís getting dressed for her wedding to the man sheís loved for years, and thought was too good for her, when she discovers heís been cheating on her. Although Evie dumps him at the altar, I wasnít certain the decision would stick. Evie loves his parents and works for the family business. And to make things more complicated, both her ex- and his parents seem determined that the two will get back together.

Neither Lara nor Evie have a straight-forward romance, but I found their journeys enjoyable. Itís obvious early on that Flynn and Lara still love each other; but whether theyíll ever get together remains in doubt. While Lara wants her daughter and Flynn to get to know each other, sheís determined that sheíll just be friends with Flynn, a decision that didnít make complete sense to me. As Lara builds a life for herself in Bath she gets a job with an interesting jeweler, and also begins a quest to learn more about her mother, who died when she was a young girl.

Evieís love life is much more prominent. In addition to her ex-, Evie meets Ethan, an intriguing man she assumes is the Odd Job man at a large hotel. Despite her determination to stay single, Evie eventually has dinner with Ethan. I loved their date, loved Ethan, and could have done with an even stronger focus on Evie.

There are some great secondary characters including Laraís Aunt Nettie, the woman who took Lara in when she had nowhere else to go. I was thrown when the action shifted to someone called Harry, the owner of a stodgy shirt company; stodgy and little-known, until a famous rapper comes into the shop and makes Harry famous. This was a funny story, but it didnít immediately make sense to me. But once the author weaves the plot into the heart of the story it was effective.

Although the focus isnít completely on romance, there are eventually enough happy endings for several books, and I found myself smiling as I read the last page. If you like your romances strong and straight-forward this isnít for you. As for me, while this isnít my favorite by Jill Mansell, I enjoyed it and look forward to her next.

-- LinnieGayl Kimmel

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