Love it or hate it, as today is Valentine’s Day, I’m teaming with the theme and posting a romance story – The No-Show by Beth O’Leary. Also, this year I’m doing the Oxfam Reading Challenge which sets a monthly reading theme and February’s is Valentine’s related so ticking that box too.
Beth O’Leary is an author who really has a great take on this genre, blending realistic characters with funny moments and an emotional thread that never feels cheesy.
Opening sentence: He isn’t here.
Three Valentine’s Day dates
The premise of The No-Show sees three women get stood up on Valentine’s Day – on respective breakfast, lunch and dinner dates – by the same man, Joseph Carter.
Siobhan, of the breakfast date, is Irish and lives in Dublin but regularly flies to London for her work as a life coach. She is having a casual relationship with Carter (as she calls him) but is still rightly annoyed when he stands her up. She is outgoing and ambitious but her character really develops well and we learn so much more about her.
All three of the female leads are strongly developed through the story actually, and that definitely gives this book its heart.
Being a human is messy, Jane, Aggie told her the other day. No amount of rules can fix that.
Miranda, of the lunch date, is a tree surgeon – not a career I’ve come across in a novel before and her job does play a key role in a random way. She is in the most established relationship with Carter, having been dating him for a few months.
Jane, of the dinner date, completes the trio. We meet her in Winchester, where she moved to from London, for reasons later revealed, and she has the most friend-like match with Carter, but, of course, feelings bubble under the surface.
So, just why did Joseph Carter stand up not one but three women on Valentine’s Day? Well, I highly encourage you to read and find out – it’s an engagingly complex tale that feels fresh and will keep you guessing.
Love is complex
We get the story from the perspective of the women rather than Carter, so by default aspersions are cast about him as each woman tells her side of the story. What The No-Show does so well is regularly make you doubt something and then take his character arc in a direction you weren’t necessarily expecting.
‘He’s such a nice guy but I sort of feel like I don’t really know him.’
By the end of the book, the stories of all three women are seamlessly woven together and, again, not for the reasons you will likely think when you start reading the book.
This is absolutely a romance book which isn’t a genre I read a huge amount of but what I love about Beth O’Leary’s writing style is it never feels cliché or mushy. It pulls so hard on your heart strings and there’s always something else happening in the story to spin things on their head a little.
I was a huge fan of Beth O’Leary’s debut The Flatshare and really enjoyed The No-Show so will be adding her other books to my TBR for when I’m next in a romance read mood.
- Get your copy of The No-Show here;
- Published by Quercus 2022;
- 341 pages;
- My rating:
I loved this one. So cleverly done!