here. The main secondary characters in that book are Beth’s best friend Jane, and Will’s cousin Bingley McNamara. These two characters were both wonderful but pretty different.
I absolutely loved Jane in the first book. Aside from liking her in her own right, because she was funny and intelligent I also liked her because she was such an amazing friend. Since single mum Beth had no family living close to her she relied on her friend Jane, who helped out with babysitting, provided a shoulder to cry on for Beth when required, moral support, fashion advice and practical support in terms of helping out providing meals for Beth and her son Charlie when Beth was strapped for time or cash. She was the type of friend that anybody would count themselves as lucky to have.
Bingley was likeable but maybe not so entirely admirable as Jane. Rich boy Bingley was responsible for Will registering with the dating agency in the first place, having offered to fund a clinic for single mums in return for Will having 5 dates with a woman. Although it may have seemed to Will like Bingley was just having fun with him in fact Bingley was trying to get Will out there and opening his heart to someone. Bingley is a good man but nowhere near as nice as Charles Bingley of Pride & Prejudice – imagine more of a Charles Bingley/Colonel Fitzwilliam hybrid who is similar looking to Darcy – very pleasant thing to imagine isn’t it! With such wonderful secondary characters in the first book I was so pleased to see that there was going to be a second book, this time featuring on Bingley and Jane.
We start the story at Beth and Will’s wedding – something has gone awry between Jane and Bingley. She is angry and hurt, and extremely prickly towards him due to him having let her down, and he feels pretty much the same.
‘Jane had seemed so...nice, for want of a better word. Too sweet for him to want to tamper with or tease too much, although Beth hinted there was more to Jane than her pleasant veneer might suggest.
He hadn’t believed that at first but, oh, he believed it now, as she swivelled to face her friend, shooting another death stare in his direction’
Actually, Jane has done Bingley a disservice – he isn’t what she thinks. In fact, both of them mislead people into thinking they are different than they are under the surface. She thinks Bingley is an uncaring player, but although he’s played the field quite a bit and has a shedload of money and a propensity to gambling he is a decent man, and he’s a lot less thoughtless and selfish than Jane believes. Jane is very cautious with men because in her experience they don’t have genuine long term interest in her. Her last serious relationship left her very badly hurt which has left her unwilling to take the risk of trusting a man or letting him close to her. Her misunderstanding with Bingley just reinforces her belief that she needs to keep her defences up with him.
Jane also suffers from being labelled as ‘nice’. This is something that I think canon Pride & Prejudice Jane would definitely have suffered with. If you are too nice people feel they can ride roughshod all over you, put upon you and generally be selfish while you put up with it. Jane has been overlooked, taken advantage of and under-esteemed for far too long, and she’s only really beginning to realise this. Bingley is a nice guy, but he doesn’t let people take advantage of him or make him feel guilty for ensuring that he’s treated properly, and that’s something that Jane could definitely learn from him.
Forced to spend time together while spending time with Beth’s son Charlie, Bingley realises that he has misjudged Jane:
‘She was passionate and genuine with the people she loved... He didn’t know what she was hiding or why, but he knew he’d only gotten the briefest flashes of the real Jane so far.’
So he sets about improving their relationship, and he and Jane work on becoming friends. But can men and women ever be friends?
I so enjoyed this book. I loved the humour, both Bingley’s and Jane’s, and there were some really funny scenes, such as their surreptitious face pulling contest while having a trip out with Charlie, Bingley’s summary of the artistic movement of pointillism, and Jane’s feelings on Emo haikus. There are a few nods to ‘When Harry Met Sally’ aside from the ‘can men and women ever be friends?’ question, including references to a couple of my favourite scenes from the film. I also loved that fact that when Bingley’s selfish, spoiled cousin Caroline comes to stay that he calls her out on her behaviour – how I would have loved to have seen canon Bingley do that! I feel a little traitorous in admitting this, but I preferred Jane and Bingley’s story to Beth and Will’s! I would definitely recommend reading this book, but to get the most out of it, read Pride, Prejudice and the Perfect Match first.
Disclaimer – I received an e-arc of this book from the author for my honest review.