I ordered You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me by Sarra Manning from the Book Depository even before I read her debut novel Unsticky because I had a feeling I’d want to read the former as soon as I finished the latter. I was right! Good thing I didn’t have to wait too long for the book to arrive.
Here’s the summary from Sarra Manning’s website:
Sweet, bookish Neve Slater always plays by the rules. And the number one rule is that good-natured fat girls like her don’t get guys like gorgeous, handsome William, heir to Neve’s heart since university. But William’s been in LA for three years, and Neve’s been slimming down and re-inventing herself so that when he returns, he’ll fall head over heels in love with the new, improved her.
So she’s not that interested in other men. Until her sister Celia points out that if Neve wants William to think she’s an experienced love-goddess and not the fumbling, awkward girl he left behind, then she’d better get some, well, experience.
What Neve needs is someone to show her the ropes, someone like Celia’s colleague Max. Wicked, shallow, sexy Max. And since he’s such a man-slut, and so not Neve’s type, she certainly won’t fall for him. Because William is the man for her… right? Somewhere between losing weight and losing her inhibitions, Neve’s lost her heart – but to who?
Neve is a relatable character, with her love for the written word and her determination to trim down her weight. I always enjoy reading about bookworms in fiction and Neve’s literary passion is pretty obvious in the way she narrates and how she uses big words that people around her don’t understand. She also rereads old favorites when she wants to be comforted and I’m sure that’s something many of us do. So many girls will also be able to relate with her struggle to shed off pounds. I sure did! I’m too lazy to exercise properly and I love to eat and I know it doesn’t work but I keep hoping that wishful thinking will enable me to lose weight. I should be inspired by Neve and her constant vigilance when it comes to staying fit. She’s just like Vaughn in Unsticky – in fact, they share the same trainer, Gustav. And Neve’s sister Celia works in the same magazine as Grace. So there are glimpses of the two main characters from Unsticky in this one. Max, the male lead in this novel, also works in the same magazine as an editor. Neve and Max are total opposites and at first glance, they don’t have anything in common. But they find out that they get along well so they agree to try having a practice relationship. Practice for Neve for when her true love, William, comes back and practice for Max because he’s never been in a committed relationship.
I’m becoming fond of lengthy women’s fiction novels because there’s more room for character growth and development. Readers find out more details about the characters and see them slowly get to know each other instead of being instantly attracted. Months occur in these novels and there’s enough time for the characters to pick apart each other and discover what makes the other person tick. Sarra Manning does these things and more in her two adult novels. I love that her characters, like Neve and Max in You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me aren’t perfect and they have to work around those imperfections to build a solid relationship. Just like Neve, Max has his own issues and I found it hilarious that even his dog, Keith, had problems. I didn’t even notice the length of the novel and consumed it as fast as I could. You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me is different from Unsticky because it’s not as dark and edgy but I enjoyed reading this just as much. When it comes to her adult books, Sarra Manning has now made it to my auto-buy list and I can’t wait for her next novel. In the meantime, I’ll check out her YA books to see if they are as good as their adult counterparts.