After much anticipation, my little package from Amazon.co.uk arrived late last week. After a fun two to three day read, I’ve discovered a few things about Phillipa Ashley’s writing. For one, her characters work in these great industries in some seriously fun locations. For another, it seems someone is always relocating, either to run away to or run from something. Unraveling the mystery of why they are running and then watching her characters try to figure out the backstories that make them so interesting is an integral part of her modus operandi. But this book goes a bit further, as it actually teaches a lesson on abusive relationships.

Lucy Gibson meets Nick (Bagel Boy) Laurentis, a would-be entrepreneur working in a sandwich shop (aptly named Love Bites). When Nick wins the top spot on an Apprentice like show (complete with a British Donald Trump look-a-like), Lucy’s life is turned upside down, and the only one seeing what is truly happening is her author friend Fiona. Fiona tries to convince Lucy that Nick’s treatment of her is controlling at best and abusive at worst. Lucy does not see it, but we do. And so will you. And when the final show-down (literally) occurs between Nick and Lucy, unlike tens of millions of viewers of Hot Shots, you’ll be relieved. And that, without giving too much away, is the premise of this new novel.

Lucy is chased by the aftermath of her decision to Tresco Farms, a small holiday farm in Cornwall, where Fiona has a cottage. Assuming another identity so the paparazzi cannot find her, Lucy meets owner Josh Standring and his girlfriend Sara. (I must stop here and point out that fans of Richard Armitage will recognize a myriad of small references in this book that refer back to his acting career. They were fun to spot, and Josh’s last name is the most obvious of those. But enough of Richard.) Lucy and Josh don’t think much of each other at first, but that starts to change, and when Sara gets wind of it, she turns into pure evil, which is pure fun to watch.

Did I love the characters in this book? Yes and no. I absolutely loathe Nick, and Josh could stand to be a bit less morally upright, considering his background. I loved Lucy and Fiona, the latter because she sees things as they really are, and the former because even though she’s caught up in something she can’t control, she pulls herself out and makes something of her career and her life that she can be proud of.

There’s a rather nice surprise at the end of this book that you won’t see coming. I’ll add two further observations without giving away the ending. When a guy tells you he doesn’t like to be lied to, believe him. When he tells you there are no second chances, don’t.

Phillipa Ashley’s Just Say Yes follows in the footsteps of her earlier efforts. There’s lovely bits of humor where you least expect them. It’s also a page turner that leaves you with that feeling that you’ve spent some time with interesting people you would like to know yourself. I know that’s exactly what I look forward to when I open a book.

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