Better in the Morning
by Fern Ronay
When Veronica’s own personal Mr. Big took her out that night, she was sure it was THE night.
She just knew her handsome boyfriend John was going to drop his hunk of an Italian body down onto one knee and pull out a little box. Maybe a robin egg blue one, from Tiffanys? An oxblood red box, from Cartier? Or could it possibly be a princess-cut pink diamond, snuggly cushioned in the pillows of a navy blue Harry Winston box?
Veronica had been dreaming about it for days, her mind lingering upon images of herself floating down the aisle on the arm of her father with her big Italian family full of bright smiles and teary eyes as she made her way forward to their pew. Her best friends would be bridesmaids of course, their long dresses made of something suitable and flattering like chiffon, but nothing that would overshadow her and all her bridal glory. Muted tones of blush and ivory with plenty of sparkle and shine. A multi-tiered wedding cake and perhaps some of those cannolis her grandfather loved so much – maybe even a whole dessert table, the fine linen groaning with the overwhelming amounts of sugar and savory.
She’d be a beautiful bride and he, a handsome groom. And the best part was, once Veronica was Mrs. DelMonico and they were back from their exotic honeymoon somewhere in Bali or Fiji, she could finally quit the job she loathed and become a proper housewife.
It would be a life full of luxury. Days spend lounging in front of the computer in a silky dressing gown, a steaming mug of coffee and a sweet pastry not too far out of reach, and the headlines of her favorite online news website keeping her enraptured for hours upon hours. Maybe she’d have a baby or two, join a health spa a few days a week to help keep her body in shape, maybe she’d learn to sew. She’d have dinner ready every night when John came home and they’d share a glass of fruity wine before heading to bed and making love. It would be a life worth living.
John had no intention of asking Veronica to marry him. The only thing he was proposing that night was that she drop everything and move her entire life to London where he would be starting a new job – if she felt like it.
If not, no big deal, right? They’d been together a few years and if she wanted to continue on with their romance across the pond, John was more than willing to let her come along for the ride. If she didn’t, well, it was nice knowing her.
Trudging home on the streets of New York City that night, among couples cuddled together as they walked hand in hand, Veronica felt depression sinking in on her from the top of her professionally blown-out locks down to her flirty Jimmy Choos. The dreams of a custom Vera Wang gown, visions of John looking dapper in a tux, and most importantly – the prospect of quitting her job – all went down the drain with the sewer rats.
Everyone assumed that being an attorney was exciting and full of adventure. But in fact, the job was nothing more than waking up each day before the sun came up to get into the office and spend her afternoon and well into the evening being a slave to her boss. Veronica was overworked, not to mention underpaid. Even though she’d been at her firm for an extended period of time, nothing seemed to be moving forward in any sort of positive direction. The passion was gone, if it had ever even been there in the first place.
The one thing that kept her going at the law firm (with the exception of the paycheck it took to pay those hefty student loans that were constantly darkening her doorstep) was the hours she could wile away in front of her computer, where she loved reading up on the mysterious circumstances of an attempted murder (actually, the multiple-attempts to murder) of a prominent doctor’s wife. Apparently the doctor was involved in the murder-for-hire scheme, yet the wife was choosing to stick by his side. Veronica loved allowing herself to get caught up in the drama of it all and if only for a few hours, she could forget about her depressing existence.
She’d had to let go of her apartment in the city. Move back home with Mom. John was long gone into the great unknown, no doubt wearing some devastatingly attractive London Fog overcoat. She’s lost her favorite piece of jewelry – her grandmother’s ring. And the law firm . . . . well. There was no sugar coating it – her boss was a nightmare.
Veronica needed a change. Pronto.
Throwing caution (and a pretty penny) to the wind, Veronica decides to take her life into her own hands piece by piece. First, she allows her friends to sign her up on an online dating website. Two, she decides to enroll in a local news reporting class and see if she is cut out – in any way – to change her career into something she’s passionate about.
But can she do it? Every date she goes on seems to end in disaster, getting worse and worse as the prospects move on to the next. Eventually Veronica ends up meeting a nice guy that makes her laugh, but the new relationship comes with its own set of problems. The news story she’s proposing to her teacher is not only controversial, but it might end up getting her sued, not to mention the entire experience is so overwhelming she’s sure she can’t live up to the hype. Veronica begins to question everything she’s doing and wonders if she made the right decision by striking out on her own and chasing her dreams.
Can Veronica learn to let herself be led by her heart and not by her head? Can she take a chance on a sure thing – herself? Or will her Manolo Blahniks slide 10 steps backwards and land her in a pile of disaster?
Full disclosure – I was sent this novel by the author with a request for an honest review if I could fit it into my schedule. She sent THE sweetest email and I just couldn’t say no to her after that (I’m a real sucker) even though I was booked several months out. I was so worried I wouldn’t like it; that is always the feeling I have when authors personally send me copies of their novels. I am an aspiring novelist myself and I know just how hard it is to allow others to read and critique your work. It’s like placing a copy of your diary into their hands and asking them to be kind while reading all of your deepest and darkest secrets and desires.
Oh, but how wonderful it felt when I ended up LOVING this book. I am a huge fan of Sophie Kinsella and Jennifer Weiner, and this book had all the vibes of those two authors, with Ronay’s own personal flair, of course. I adore good chick-lit when I can find it, and the author hit it out of the park for me.
A few of the things I loved most:
The fact that this was not a romance novel. Did it have romance? Yes. Veronica is devastated when she realizes that John was not as emotionally invested as she was and she is worried about jumping back into the dating pool. Very relatable and on-point in the Internet day and age. The men she goes out with from Match.com are all so terrible, that it became fabulously funny. I loved Veronica’s commitment to not settle and instead, to live by her “must-haves in a man” after her relationship with John comes to an end. But regardless of the fact that romance was involved in the storyline, the real purpose never faltered – this book was about Veronica finding and empowering herself and conjuring the strength to follow her dreams. Romance was a supporting plot, not the main focus.
The grandparents. When the book opened, I was a little confused . . . and as the chapters went on, I began to wonder if this “dreaming of her dead grandparents and having actual conversations with them” was going to cheapen the experience just a little. It’s a fine line between sweet and silly when it comes to hearing voices. But as I read, I began to fall in love with Veronica’a grandparents and the relationship she had/has with them. They were truly her guardian angels and were so focused on propelling her forward in life with as much love as they could send her way from the heavens. It gave me some feels. I would LOVE to have a prequel written about these two.
The other supporting characters. Veronica’s mother, her father and his new wife, the best friends, the terrible boss. There aren’t enough words for me to describe how much I fell head-over-heels in love with Syd. Each character was written vividly and with purpose. The author was not so in love with her main character that she forgot about the others. There was great development and progression for each of them, and it all ended with the perfectly wrapped white ribbon, like that on a Tiffany box. This is what I expect out of chick-lit and I was not disappointed.
I have to give this novel 5 out of 5 stars. I just had such a wonderful and fun time reading it. I laughed and laughed. If you’re looking for a read in the spirit of girl power and friendship, this is the one for you.